Pinewood Derby Video Car (with Suspension)




This year my eldest sons Cub Scout pack had an open division. I believe the cars that the kids race should be their own creation. So after serving as a safety monitor for the creation of the true car. I created a video car with my younger children.

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Step 1: Resaw the Pinewood Derby Car Blank

The first thing you will want to do is cut the car blank down to a thin plank.

I made a mark down the car about 1/16 inch above the holes for the axles (nails).

Then I clamped it into a vice and (with a little help from the little ones) cut the car down.

Step 2: Sand the Car Plank Flat

Do not worry if the first cut looks really bad, we will make everything look much nicer with some sanding.

I do not have a picture of the sanding process, but I taped a couple of sheets of sand paper to the table then ran the board back and forth.

Step 3: Make the Cut for the Suspension

I made a mark down the middle of the plank and cut from the front to 1 inch from the back

Step 4: Optional: Modify the Camera

This camera is a bit too heavy to be used in a true competition car. Since was running in an exhibition Open heat… I knew a couple extra grams would be ok. If you are competing, you might want to consider removing the video out and audio out plugs, removing some of the metal casing to the camera, and even hardwiring the battery connection in directly.

I did not modify the camera because I wanted this to be a temporary mounting. This camera has a lot more adventure coming before it gets permanently mounted.

Step 5: Add the Electronics

I put the camera far enough back that you could see the tip of the car in the shot. (I hoped it would add a perspective of speed.

I used superglue to mount the camera to the base (a strong twist on the mounting bracket would remove it)

The wires are tucked under the camera and the battery will sit behind the camera.

Step 6: Optional: Run Around the House With the Racecar Cam

If you are reading about a pinewood derby car, you probably have kids. This was silly fun! Interview the kids with the racecar cam. Chase the dog with the camera. Use it like an airplane and fly around after the kids.

Step 7: Add the Wheels

The most significant thing that affects the speed of your car is your wheels. There are numerous resources online that discuss spinning the wheels on a lathe, lubricating the wheels with graphite, reducing the contact area of the wheel and getting them on perfectly straight (to incredible tolerances).

I ignored them and simply pressed the wheels on

Step 8: Watch the Car Run

I used connected the receiver to the video input of my portable DVD player.

Be careful when you reveal this car, it can be quite a distraction. (One of the nice things about running in an exhibition race is you can keep the car hidden until the end.)

I saved a couple of runs to my video camera, which is unfortunately down for maintenance at the moment. I will try to post them to this Instructable latter.

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    16 Discussions


     cool that camera you have wireless? the camera you have and the one on the link you put up don't match


    13 years ago

    Where did you get the camera/what brand is it?

    4 replies

    Reply 13 years ago

    Did it come with a transmitter for the video output?


    Reply 13 years ago

    Yes, it came with the video camera and the receiver (with RCA video and audio out). I connected to the line in of my portable DVD player for people to watch. I also recorded a couple of races by running from the receiver to the line-in on my camcorder.

    My boyscout troop had a derby. you could do anything. I put a model rocket engine with an rc igniter. Our track was 30 feet long. part of the way down, I fired the rocket. You can guess who won. The car somehow jumped over the stopper and shot across the parking lot. fun.

    3 replies

    Combining gravity-racing and rockets is always fun! My friends and I used to do the same to hot-wheels cars with no-report bottle-rockets taped on and sent down the roof with fuses lit. Caused a lot of neighbors some wonder how we got cars in the gutters (we used dollar-general type cars, not actual hot wheels so we wouldn't mind losing them if things went 'bad'. (like the car landing on the roof or using a reporting rocket and blowing the roof off...)

    forget no report bottle rockets, I do the same thing with whistling dual report bottle rockets. it makes the effect more dramatic.

    We did this with no-reports to avoid damage to decent cars we liked. Any others, we tried to destroy. We sent a truck down the ramp once with 2 M80's stuck to it and a single rocket. We blew a hole in the neighbor's trash can...


    hey buddy i jst wanna ask u a quest that can we use our cell phones camera as a spy cam with the receiver in our PC ?????? plz help me out ????


    12 years ago

    If you have an amateur radio license - you can get a tiny camera and tramsmitter around a hundred or so bucks (I think I paid 125.). These guys are neat because on the 70cm portion of the bands, we can transmit on cable channel 59 - no special setting. Just change the TV to channel 59 and it works. My sons derby is next month.... I just might have to add this "weight". Really neat idea.


    13 years ago

    These are the kind of instructables I like to see..