Rocket Brand Studios Transmitter Kit





Introduction: Rocket Brand Studios Transmitter Kit

The Transmitter Kit from Rocket Brand Studios is a perfect way to add RC control to your robot or electronics project via a X-bee unit. We start with a FetaDuino, the Arduino-based LCD backpack system, add a nice Playstation-style joystick and then throw in some pots and buttons for good measure.

  • 16x2 LCD
  • FetaDuino -- An Arduino-based backpack with volt regs, EEPROM, room for an X-bee and more
  • PlayStation-style joystick
  • 2 Potentiometers
  • 2 Momentary Push-buttons
  • Cut-outs for IR LED's 
  • Laser-cut acrylic caseAll assembly hardware
  • Plenty of room for all your extra doo-dads (5v and 3.3v available from the FetaDuino)
  • Available for lefties and righties


Now, don't let the X-bee scare you. Most of the Series-one's work right out of the box with no configuration. If I still don't have you convinced, there is plenty of room inside the case for just about any flavor of transmitting unit --from those little $5 guys up to those fancy 2.4g units. You can even just add some IR LED's in the provided holes for IR control via "Sony protocol" or via serial data. Heck, why not use it as your TV remote while you're at it?

Step 1: The FetaDuino Assembly

We need to start with putting the FetaDuino together. Instead of repeating the instructions here, you can simply skip over to the FetaDuino Instructable itself. Follow the instructions and get 'er together.

Step 2: Getting Started

This will be a pretty easy kit to put together with just a wee bit of soldering. We will "prep" each of the individual pieces/parts and then put them all together. 

The assembly process is almost identical for left handed and right handed models. If you are building a right handed model, the blue transmitter shown in the pictures is for you. If you are building a left handed unit, pay attention to the florescent green model in the pictures (in addition to the blue).

It should be said...
The acrylic has a distinctive smell upon exiting the laser cutter. You may notice it when you first open the bag. It is just sorta a plasticy smell. The good news is that 95% of that glorious funk is contained by the paper covering, not the acrylic itself. First things first, go ahead and carefully peel off the protective paper and throw it away outside. The smell will go with it, I promise. I tell ya, you should smell my shop after I do a day of cutting! --Whew!

You will need:
  • Soldering iron and rosin-core (flux-core) solder
  • Small pliers
  • Wire Strippers
  • Small screwdriver

Step 3: Assembly 1

  • Go ahead and solder the joystick to its breakout board. Be sure you solder the joystick to the correct side! (note picture(s))
  • You can also solder the 5 male pins into place as well. Again, look at the pictures and be sure the pins go on the correct side. They should be sticking out of the "bottom" of the board. 
  • Finish off the assembly with the (2) 10mm stand-offs and M3 screws

Step 4: Assembly 2

Prepare the back plate
  • Locate the (2) pots in the kit. We will need to bend the legs to a 90 degree angle so we can more easily connect wires later. Take note of the picture(s) and gently bend your pins to match with a small pair of pliers.
  • Install the two pots on to the back plate. Notice that each has a little "pin" sticking out the front, next to the main shaft. This has to go in its respective hole on the back plate. Tighten the nuts just a bit past finger-tight. If you go crazy here, you risk breaking the acrylic. (stick the knobs on too, if you want)
  • Install the (2) push buttons. This ain't rocket science here, stick 'em through and tighten the nuts
  • Install the switch. It can go vertically or horizontally, whatever you like.
We have assembled these pots and buttons to the back plate now because I believe that it serves well to hold everything when you are soldering later. If you are new at soldering, are concerned about having a soldering iron so close to the acrylic or you are a drip-solder-everywhere kinda person, you may want to skip this step, solder the parts first, then assemble them to the back plate.

Step 5: Assembly 3

Prepare the bottom plate
  • Locate the bottom plate and note the etched rectangle on one side. You should be able to actually feel this rectangle with your fingernail. This side, the side you can feel the rectangle on, is the side where we mount the battery pack. Look at the pictures.
  • Locate the 4AA battery pack and the squares of double stick tape. Apply the double-stick to the battery pack as shown in the pictures.
  • Route the wires from the battery pack through the hole in the bottom plate. Carefully! Carefully! Align the battery pack with the rectangle outline and stick it down. Take your time here, Skippy --You only get one shot at it.
  • Install the (4) 40mm stand offs in the corners

Step 6: Assembly 4

Prepare the front plate
  • Install the FetaDuino LCD using (4) 5mm stand offs. The male end of the stand off goes through the LCD and is secured with (4) 3mm nuts. The LCD is then mounted to the acrylic using (4) M3 screws. 
  • Install the joystick with (2) M3 screws. There is a wee bit of play in the screws in the case and also in the joystick breakout board. If you mount the joystick, then loosen it slightly, you will be able to fudge it around a bit so the joystick itself is centered in its hole. When you are happy with how it sits, tighten it down.

Step 7: Assembly 5

  • Locate all the small jumper wires and set the red and black ones aside. The rest will be assorted colors and it simply does not matter what color you use for what, just sorta keep track in the back of your mind. When we are doing final connections, it will be pretty easy to trace everything.
  • Grab (4) of the assorted color jumpers, one red and one black. Cut the connector off of one end of each wire. Strip the ends about 1/4" (1cm) deep. I recommend "tinning" the wires --Pre-solder the exposed ends of the wires.
  • Tin the connectors on the 2 buttons, the center pin of the switch and one of the outside pins on the switch
  • Of the (4) assorted-color wires, solder one to each of the contacts of the 2 buttons.
  • Solder the black jumper you prepared to the black wire coming from the battery case. I personally like to use a little shrink-tube to cover the joint, but you can use a bit of electrical tape if you prefer
  • Solder the red jumper to one of the pins on the switch
  • Solder the red wire from the battery holder to the other pin on the switch
This was a big step with a lot of things to do. Now may be a good time to go back over the list above and double check you have done everything. Please consult the pictures as they may do a better job at explaining than the text above.

Step 8: Assembly 6

Prepare the Pots

I have found that the little jumper wires actually fit fairly well directly on the little pins on the pots. It is a little tight, try to think "going straight" thoughts as you plug them in and you will do fine. 
  • Using the last (6) assorted color jumpers, connect one to each of the terminals on each potentiometer 

Step 9: Assembly 7

Plugging stuff in

It should be noted now, the orientation of the pins on the FetaDuino. If you look at the "main row" of 3-pin-headers, the ground pin is closest to the edge of the board. 5v+ is the center pin. The signal pin (data pin) is closest to the processor or the center of the board.

You will be using your remaining jumpers and/or the jumper you soldered earlier for all these connections

Joystick to FetaDuino
  • VCC ---> Center pin of A0
  • Vert  ---> Data pin of A1
  • Horz ---> Data pin of A0
  • Sel   ---> Data pin of D2
  • GND --->Ground pin of A0  (outside pin)
Pots to FetaDuino
  • Center pin of pot A --->  Data pin of A7
  • One of the outside connectors of pot A  ---> Center pin of A7
  • The other outside connector of pot A  ---> Ground pin of A7
  • Center pin of pot B ---> Data pin of A2
  • One of the outside connectors of pot B  ---> Center pin of A2
  • The other outside connector of pot B  ---> Ground pin of A2
Push Buttons to FetaDuino
  • One wire from button A  ---> Data pin of D3
  • The other wire from button A  ---> Ground pin of D3
  • One wire from button B  ---> Data pin of D11
  • The other wire from button B  ---> Ground pin of D11
Power from the switch

     It may be a good time to take a quick peek at the instruction manual for the FetaDuino. There is more in-depth information regarding different voltage battery packs.

      If you intend to use alkaline batteries, the total voltage of your battery pack will be just over 6v. This will require you to use the on-board voltage regulator of the FetaDuino.
  • The black wire from the battery goes to GND on the 5-pin header
  • The red wire from the switch goes to VIN on the 5-pin header
  • The small jumper block should be installed over the 2 switch pins
  • The on-board voltage monitoring circuit will work in this configuration
     If you intend to use rechargeable batteries, the total voltage of your battery pack will be 4.5v to just over 5v. This is perfect for the Arduino, and is actually too low for the voltage regulator to be of any use. In this case:
  • The black wire from the battery goes to gnd on the 5-pin header
  • The red wire from the switch goes to 5v on the 5-pin header
  • The small jumper block should be installed over the 2 switch pins
  • The on-board voltage monitoring circuit will not work in this configuration.

Whew! Did you make it? Again, may be a good time to stop and recheck yourself everywhere. Read the text above again and recheck everything and study the pictures. Remember, the color of the wire is not important, where it is connected is quite important.

Step 10: Assembly 8

Put 'er together

I think at this point you should be able to figure out how to get this guy together...

Stick the tabs in the sockets, tuck your wires in and stick the top on. The back plate (with the pots and the buttons) is just a wee bit taller than the main stand offs. When you tighten on the top plate, the back plate will be held snug. 

You may also want to take a quick look into the rectangular hole in the back plate. This is the access port that allows you to get your FTDI board or cable into the FetaDuino to program it. It is quite likely that some of your jumper wires are in the way of this hole. With some kinda sticky-thing, encourage these wires to get out of the way.

More info:

Rocket Brand Studios 
Link to Zip File of Examples
Easy Transfer Library



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    Hey thanks everybody. This one was a long-time commin'. I appreciate the kind words.

    I think I may do a small one without a screen, I would love to see if I could do a proper remote for less than 35 or 40 bucks. I have been playing with AAA-size 3.6v lipos for a while now, maybe I should try stuffing one of those and an atmega168 into some kinda little case? Hmmm.. Gosh darnit! Now I'm thinkin'.... (This "thinking" thing has been problematic in the past)

    I love it!!!

    o my god))) i think this good things!!!!