Introduction: Hacking RC Remote to One Handed Usability.
Controllers of all kinds are difficult to use with one hand, so we figured out how to hack them as kids so my brother and myself could play video games together. Fast forward About 20 years, we have both graduated engineering school. (myself bachelor in Civil ENGT) (brother masters in mechanical engineering (building RC airplanes)) Brother has been trying to inflict me with the RC hobby for a few years now, then I take a ride on his FPV (First Person View) and see the incredible use having real time areal views could have for farming and surveying. Now I must figure out how to use a conventional remote (sticks are to wide to use without setting on a table restricting safe flight space) or hack and create a control interface for one handed use.
I only have a few minutes of flight time so far (planes crash and had to go home with my brother) this is the video from that and how it works.
It should be noted that this project was created during the pandemic and on a vary small budget (the stuff laying around) and all controls were salvaged from PS2 remotes and old RC car remote.
Stuff you will need (your list may vary depending on your needs)
- RC plane remote to hack into.
- Joy stick/s and other switches and the like. (if you want you could completely cannibalize the plane remote for the parts (but then you have to figure out how to make it all work again later))
- Wire to connect the old remote and new
- Soldering stuff (iron, flux, solder) other tools of this task you may need
- Some way to make a housing that fits your individual needs. (we 3D printed this one)
- a plane to fly and crash (you will crash don't get attached to it Flight test is a good resource to plane plans built from $1 foam board, for your smashing pleasure.)
Step 1: Figure Out What You Need and Get Your Parts.
After some stick time using a remote that had a conveniently placed scrolling wheel I could use as a throttle, we figured out that I can fly using only 3 channels (throttle, aileron and elevator) BANK AND YANK
Knowing what was needed I started looking for a joy stick or two (control surfaces) and or a potentiometer to use as a throttle. A Xbox remote has all of this in it (because of its shape the primary buttons are out reach so we use Play Stations). Between a PS2 controller and a old RC car remote we were able to find all we needed.
Take the remotes apart and carefully separate the parts you need from the rest (save the rest of the electric bits they can be used for other projects or later version) the joysticks need the circuit board to hold them together so I carefully cut them out with a jewelry saw. the throttle was just unsoldered.
Step 2: Mockup Controls to Fit Your Needs and Design the Body
Card board (or foam board) is cheep use it to try and figure out where you want the controls and the general shape of the thing.
You could make the test body's out of cardboard if you like. (I'm pretty tough on things so I printed the body's) totally not necessary but is sturdier.
I used fusion 360 to design the body around the parts I found and how I determined it needed to be shaped.
you can get the STL file at thingiverse.
I used a SLA Photon UV cure resin printer to print the parts.
Step 3: Test and Solder Leads Onto Controls
Use a ohm meter to determine whats what on the joy sticks.
Solder the leads onto the parts so you can wire it into the standard unit.
One hand soldering tip use objects to hold the wires your working with down to solder (and use lots of flux)
Step 4: Hack Into Master Controls.
Ok my brother has always been an electrical wizard and he wired this end up. The switches on the sides of the controller (standard) turn on and off the channels on the adaptive unit and appear to be wired into the buss bars on the lower left and right nets to the switches. We used tiny pugs to connect and create the leads to the adaptive unit.
The trick is to get the right leads from one unit connected with the corresponding control on the other. We goofed and got the elevator reversed but got it promptly repaired.
Step 5: Put It All Together
Tiny bolts (with tweezers) and hot glue worked for me but do it your way.
Step 6: Test and Maiden Flight.
The video from the beginning again.
Make their stuff fit you! And Make on.
Participated in the
Make It Fly Speed Challenge