Pimp my Car — Hacking an RC-Toy to perform stunts

This toy car appears in shops for less than 10 EUR. I added an Atmega 48 microcontroller to allow modification of its behaviour. This modified toy can now serve as a vehicle for beginner class computer science students, to learn how to program an 8-bit microcontroller.

This article shows the needed hardware modifications. This requires some hardware hacking skills, like cutting tracks on a PCB, soldering wires, and some initial programming, so that the microcontroller passes through the signals from the remote control. A robust motor driver library should be provided to the students, so that they cannot damage the power electronics while experimenting.

Finally, a first excercise can be programmed. We implement a function that triggers, when the user pull right-right-back on the remote. It runs a manover turning the car around on minimum space. The steering is more limited than what one would expect from a real car, thus the best we can achive is a 7 point turn (Wenden in sieben Zügen).

The source code for the Microcontroller is available at github.

This video shows the final result: