Intro: Miniaturization/ Enhancement of an RC Transmitter & Reciever Using Altoids!!!
OK, this is going to be my first posted Instructable :D so go easy on me. I recently went to Washington and I received several RC related components including 3 transmitters and one receiver out of a few old toy airplanes. Anyway I decided to take one of the transmitters and make it one- smaller, and two- better looking/ working. My goal with this is to make a system capable of being easily transported and set up and that is small and lightweight. I would be able to use said system in a small gym or medium sized room, possibly outdoors or at school. If you have any questions at all about this, please ask them and I will do my best to answer them. Also any input on making this project and Instructable better would be greatly appreciated. This Instructable assumes that you wont mind if any thing happens to the transmitter. Also this Instructable will probably work best on a cheapo 10-30$ system because they use a minimum amount of components and are therefore have smaller circuit boards. Keep in mind that this will be different for everyone as there are many different systems available all over the world. Before you start read through the entire Instructable to fully understand what is going on.
PS. I don't and wont assume any responsibility for any thing you do to yourself or your project.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
OK, You are going to need several components and tools to get started
Dremel (with cutting and grinding attachments)
Several types of screw drivers- to take apart transmitter
Third Hand Tool
Sharpie/ writing utensil
Hot glue gun + glue
Phone Battery (one you don't mind destroying)/ Li-Po (one cell)
Switches (I used a rocker switch from a camcorder and two push button switches)
Wire- should be fairly thin and flexible
Magnet wire or other really thin wire
Heat Shrink Tubing -not required but certainly useful
Connector from Computer board (two connections) - Both Male & Female parts
The most important part... Altoids Tin!!!! (looks better if you can find one with a flat smooth top)
Spray paint for metal
And That's It. If you use something not pictured or written above please tell me so that I can add it.
Step 2: Dissmebering (sounds Greusom Dont It?) the Transmitter
This is probably the easiest step of all. Basically Find all of the screws on the transmitter case and take them out. Be careful and save them in case you change your mind at the end. Once you are able to open the case up take out any other screws that are holding the parts together. Gently remove the circuit board and anything attached to it. You can set the case aside as we wont be needing it any more. Before you throw it away make sure once again that you got everything control wise.
Step 3: Figure Out What You Have
By now you have everything dissembled and are looking at a circuit board. It should be marked with ground, antenna, power, forward, left, right... On mine the throttle was simply two switches, one gave 3/4 power and one full throttle. This makes it really simple to mod and so from here on we assume that this is how yours works. I found that my circuit board can run from a nine volt battery which saves space from the 8 AA's that it previously used. I don't think that this will fit into the Altoids tin if your transmitter cant do this. You also want to trim off the telescoping antenna right at its base.
Step 4: Solder on Replacement Switches
OK, I used a rocker switch (basically two switches under a "teeter totter") for the steering and two push button switches for the throttle channel. Also use a slider switch for the on/off.
Step 5: Painting the Altoids Tin
All you have to do in this step is spray paint the Altoids tin with the metal paint. Go for whatever color scheme you see fit. To get a better paint job you can take the cover off of the body of the tin by GENTLY bending the hinges back.
Step 6: In the CASE of Fire...
Sorry no fire but defiantly a case :D So take your Dremel tool with the cutting attachment and cut out holes for all of your switches and double check that they are just the right size. Next using the grinding attachment file away at the edges so that they are not sharp. Lastly put a piece of duct tape in so that the Altoids tin wont short out the circuit board.
Step 7: Cramming
This can be somewhat tricky as you now have to figure out a way to fit everything that you have into the space of the Altoids tin. Mine just barely fit at all and I had to modify the wiring to better fit. I then used hot glue to make sure that nothing was going to go anywhere. Make sure that all of your switched are lined up and work properly before gluing them. Now take the telescoping antenna that you cut off earlier and measure out how long it it fully extended. Then cut off a piece of wire the same length and solder it onto the existing antenna wire, securing it with some heat shrink tubing. Next drill a hole in the side of the tin that will eventually be facing away from you when you use the transmitter and thread the antenna through it.
Step 8: Close It Up and Admire
You can now close up your transmitter and admire all of the hard work you put into it. Heck give yourself a pat on the back and a congratulatory hug and kiss :D
Step 9: The Receiver
Test you receiver and see if it will work with the one cell lipo or phone battery. If so great you can make an Indoor plane. If not you can try to make one, no guarantees. If yours works with the 3.6 or 3.7 volt battery then you can replace all of the wires with a really thin wire to further lighten it up. Make a battery plug out of the computer connectors with the female side on the battery. You can take the cover off of a phone battery to make it even more light. Here is a link to a really good place to get more info on indoor planes if you want to do that. http://www.rcgroups.com/indoor-and-micro-models-85/ The transmitter will still work with the original aircraft if you don't want to make your own. Pictured is a model I built for the Science Olympiad which could be converted over to RC
Step 10: Das Ende/ the End
As I go along I will think of improvements that can be made and if you have any ideas please tell me, as I said before, so that I can add them to this page.