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News on the RC Car

October 13, 2002 12:36

To give a brief history on the RC Car. Back in early 1999 I bought a $20 radio shack toy RC Car and hacked the remote control unit so it could be controlled via computer, and therefore was controllable via the internet. A month or so after getting that working, I bought a video transmitter and receiver and a small B&W camera along with a battery pack. Wired together, it functioned exactly as I would have hoped, except for one small problem, the car dragged on the carpet and couldn't move due to the excessive weight of the batteries. I solved this problem by wiring the camera & trasmitter directly to the car's batteries so they both ran off the same powersource. This worked much better, but I only had 3 hours worth of runtime, and the recharge time for the batteries was about 12 hours. Needless to say, the best I could do each day was about 6 hours of runtime with 2 sets of batteries. I also had the problem that people wanted to play with the car, but by the time I got it set up and working, they had given up and left, then the car would sit there, draining batteries for 3 hours until it was dead, without anyone playing.

So I devised a solution. I bought a new RC Car, actually a large pickup truck model that would be able to handle a lot of extra weight. It also had sufficient clearance, so carpet wouldn't be such a drag. I bought a 12V 4 Amphour gelcell battery, which has sufficent power to run the camera and transmitter for 21 hours and will recharge in less than 2 hours. This will ensure that the car will be functional most of the day, if not all of it by purchasing a second battery and running them in 12 hour intervals. Only problem is, while I was moving the cam & transmitter over to the new car, I managed to kill the transmitter.

Since there was no reason to continue moving over the interface until I got a new transmitter, I simply sat on it for a while. People complained about not being able to play with the car, so for a while I ran the old car in the living room and repositioned the camera in there so people could play. Of course, as usual, people will bitch about it, then play for 20 seconds and leave, and now the cam is in the wrong position and people complain that they can't see the lights. Eventually all the old batteries gave out, so I just junked it and told people it was completely dead, which for all practical purposes it was.

Lately with all the renewed interest in it, I've gotten the new rc car fully converted over to be computer controlled now, so it is in the state that the old car was before I added the camera. I will tomorrow attempt to obtain another camera so I can have a cam dedicated to watching the car. It still won't be as much fun until I get the transmitter replaced, but at least I'll have something people can play with until then.