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DIY remote controller for RC vehicles

A remote controller and receiver for radio-controlled model vehicles. Based upon Arduino UNO and cheap 433Mhz modules

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I am making a remote controller and receiver for radio-controlled (RC) vehicles - cars, boats, planes, etc- because I think it can give more people opportunity to enter this hobby.
It is basically two standalone Arduino UNO talking to each-other over-the-air using a simple and cheap 433Mhz link. They are running @16MHz and 5V, using the Arduino UNO bootloader.

The emitter ("remote controller") features:
- 6 Push buttons
- 2 LED's
- 1 analog Joystick (real X and Y analog)
- 1 analog potentiometer
- 433Mhz radio transceiver

The receiver features:
- 8 I/O's (all of which will most likely be used as O's)
- 433Mhz radio transceiver


Plans are that I will power both the controller and receiver with 5V USB power banks (the cheap ones using a single 18650 battery).

I have ordered PCB's for both circuits from JLCPCB in China, but they will still take some time to arrive.

Sooo basically I want to challenge myself into building a radio-controlled toy from scratch. I am more inclined to electronics than mechanics, so I decided that the mobile mechanical platform would be just any one I can put my hands on. Now the electronics are of my interest!.

I bought the RC toy car above for around US$5 (actually R$30 in Brazil) as a first platform for tests.

I confess that I am not a RC hobbyist myself, so I have never had contact with any aspect of that world. I didn't really know how an ESC (electronic speed controller) worked before starting this project; so I decided I would implement every line of code of this project without looking at anything already available on the market.

That means I would try to make everything (code, hardware) from scratch; what a challenge!.

The first step was to define which microcontroller platform to use on the project; of course I decided for Arduino (haha!), mainly because I own a bunch of ATMEGA328's and also because I currently run a blog on embedded systems ( www.FritzenLab.com.br ) and use Arduino as the core and for most articles.

Second step was to assemble a (half-functional) mechanical prototype of the circuit boards, just to have a feeling of the size and look/feel of it. Pictures are below for both the emitter (radio controller) and the receiver (motor controller).

From the picture you can see a bunch of details of the hardware, but never forget all files (Eagle, Fritzen, Arduino code) are hosted in this Github.

The emitter (controller) features:

- One true analog X-Y joystick

- Six push buttons

- Two LED's (outputs)

- One analog potentiometer (for analog trimming)

- Pin header for radio (I plan to test and use most-likely the 433Mhz HM-10)

- USB connector for power

The receiver (motor controller) features:

- Eight IO's (Inputs or outputs) from ATMEGA328 (Arduino UNO)

- Pin header for radio (I plan to test and use most-likely the 433Mhz HM-10)

- USB connector for power

Third step was to draw schematic diagram and PCB for the prototypes. I did it in a couple of hours using Eagle CAD and some Adafruit and Sparkfun libraries. Results can be seen below.

This project is an ongoing thing, I don't even have the code to test it. At the moment I am waiting for prototype PCB's to arrive from JLCPCB China (this thing take 2-3 months to arrive in Brazil, seriously).

  • 2 × ATMEGA328P-PU Microprocessors, Microcontrollers, DSPs / ARM, RISC-Based Microcontrollers
  • 6 × Push Button 6x6 + plastic knob
  • 2 × Printed circuit boards (see GIthub link for files)
  • 2 × Crystal oscillator 16Mhz
  • 4 × Ceramic capacitor 22pF

  • 1
    Buy or manufacture the PCB's at home

    Both PCB's (emitter/controller and controller) were designed in Eagle CAD and had their GERBER files generated.

    Receiver Files are HERE, and emitter/controlle files are HERE.

  • 2
    Assemble both PCB's from the schematic diagrams

    Receiver (motor controller) Eagle CAD files are HERE, while transmitter (controller) schematic files are HERE.

View all instructions

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