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Cheap radio control car low frequency PWM Arduino control proof of concept (part 1)

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Published on Jun 10, 2009

This is an experiment I've done today to try to control a RC car from a PC by hooking an Arduino to the radio controller. The cool think here is that although the radio controller has binary controls, I'm using PWM with a very low frequency (10 Hz or less, approx) to trigger them so I can make it run faster or slower without having to switch on and off the motors by hand.

The software on the Arduino generates the PWM signal by software (i'm not using the "analog" outputs) and receives dutty cycle commands from the computer by serial connection. On the computer I'm running a perl script that uses the Linux::Joystick module to monitor the position of the axis of the joystick and sends a 6 bit dutty cycle command to the arduino.

As you can see the forward direction control is the only one that works by now. I plan to extend the trick to the direction control and improve the communications between the Arduino and the PC to be able soon to control the car from the internet with a camera attached to the car.

As I'm doing this in my spare time (of course), don't expect me to release detailed plans soon or even finish the project before the XXII century. I've done this video to share my idea hoping somebody will find it useful.

A final remark: to get a smoother response, maybe we could raise the PWM frequency but I fear the frequency range may be limited by the protocol the controller uses for radio transmissions. I haven't done much research on this subject yet.

The ribbon in the controller is connected to the positive and negative pole -the circuit ground- of the 9V battery the controller has inside (so I can get rid of the battery some day) and the 4 control switches.

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