Pirate Radio Control

Status: Framework completed. Various vehicles completed.

RC Hardware
1/10 Scale RC Car [Post Archive]
Twitch, Jr. [Post Archive]

I've been building custom RC equipment since 2007, when I helped developed a 2.4GHz control system for 2.007: Design and Manufacturing I as part of my S.B. Thesis. Even though I've gained an appreciation for the quality of commercially available 2.4GHz systems, I still use my own RC hardware whenever I get a chance. Since the framework hasn't changed since 2007, it's mostly a plug-and-play solution that I can stick on any vehicle I want.

RC Hardware:

The transceivers are simple and reliable XBee modules from Digi and the carrier board is a custom-designed microcontroller development board (...like an Arduino...) based on the MSP430F2274 or more recently, the STM32F103. Since each module can transmit and receive, I can also do data acquisition over the same connection. One module goes with the RC vehicle; the connects via USB to a laptop computer. Being tethered to a laptop has its disadvantages, but it also opens up the opportunity to use any USB controller as the input.

1/10 Scale RC Car:

Of all the various vehicles I've worked on, this RC car is the fastest. Think about that for a second. I've done robots, scooters, go-karts, segways, generally things you ride on. But this tiny 2kg RC car with a $13 motor beats them all, hands-down. It does 0-30mph in 1.7 seconds and reaches a top speed of 45mph. That's breaking the speed limit on most Cambridge streets. The original build report and follow-up have all the details.

Oh yeah, and I have the data to prove it.

Twitch, Jr.:

This odd-looking creature is Twitch, Jr. I built it after I saw this video of FIRST Team 1565's 2008 robot, Twitch. (Okay, so some years passed in between, but I always had it in mind as a potential project.) Here's the post archive. It's not as fast as the RC car, but it can do tricks. Check it out in this MITERS TV shoot @0:49: