Inexpensive Arduino Rock Crawler - RC Groups
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May 12, 2012, 11:08 PM
Crash Pilot
kjhawk2k's Avatar

Inexpensive Arduino Rock Crawler

After reading a few webpages about people hacking inexpensive RC cars with arduinos I decided to try it. When I went to the local Wal-Mart the most attractive thing there was a "Rock Crawler" by Maisto for around $30. I recently purchased an Arduino Uno Rev3 ($25), Seedstudio Ping sensor ($15), and already had a few servos lying around ($0).. so the total cost ended up being around $75.

When I got home with Rock Crawler I noticed that PCB wasn't the same as the TX2/RX2 that was being used in tutorials on the web. After experimenting with for a while I discovered the solder points as follows:

A: VCC (optional, 9v used for powering the arduino from the car)
B: Ground (arduino ground pin and also optionally used for powering the arduino from the car)
C: Backward (arduino digital pin)
D: Forward (arduino digital pin)
E: Right (arduino digital pin)
F: Left (arduino digital pin)

So to get it all working just solder a jumper wire to each solder point and connect it to the arduino. To make the truck move use the "digitalWrite" function with the parameter HIGH to enable moving and a parameter of LOW to disable moving or turning.

Next I will be attaching the ping sensor and a servo in the bed of the truck in order to look from side to side and avoid obstacles.
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May 14, 2012, 08:51 AM
Registered User
I was thinking of going to my local hobby shop, they have several "consignment" rock crawlers. A little dusty, but fully functional . .
May 18, 2012, 03:57 AM
Registered User
if you already have hobby quality RC equipment, you can easily convert toy quality RC Vehicles to proportional control.

This is an example robot I have built using my existing RC Transmitter/receiver and a motor controller IC -

I really want to do the same with my sons Lightening McQueen, but he gets very upset if I approach any of his cars with a screw driver.

Duane B
May 18, 2012, 08:16 AM
Registered User

Great blog!! . . . I have it bookmarked on my Favorites tab!! I'm currently learning how to use the Propeller chip, so I plan on converting some of your work into ".spin" once I get my bearings.
That video reminds me of the Jawa's transport . . .
Oct 04, 2012, 02:20 PM
Registered User
Any updates on your project? I am looking to do the exact same thing and your post is a big help because I picked out the same RC car as you without the standard tx2 chip. I am planning on putting a wireless camera on it and try to control it remotely through a wifi shield and network so I could control it from anywhere.

I would love to see any updates you have.
Apr 02, 2013, 09:49 PM
Crash Pilot
kjhawk2k's Avatar
Hey sorry for the incredibly late reply. I attached a compass and a GPS to the rock crawler and got it crudely moving between waypoints. It is really good for outdoor use since it can drive over almost anything, but is terrible indoors since it isn't proportional and makes a lot of noise.

Recently I received a DFRobot MiniQ 2WD and have attached an ultrasonic sensor, bluetooth module, and compass (on top of the built-in IR tx/rx, line sensor x5, and wheel encoders). I'm using ATTiny 85's to control IR beacons which blast unique identifiers. Not completed everything yet, but getting close to an autonomous indoor robot.

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