Components

Building your own RC vehicles can seem like a daunting task at first but once you get familiar with the components you’ll realise it’s not that hard. You can go down two main routes:

  1. Buy off the shelf transmitters and receivers. This is a good approach to start with because it is basically plug and play however it is usually expensive and you can be limited in how many controls you can fit into the model.
  2. Build your own custom circuit from scratch. This is my preferred approach but it has a steeper learning curve as you’ll need to learn about electronic components and programming. On the other hand you can pretty much add an infinite amount of control to your model.

RC Controllers

A good RC controller is essential to your radio control set up. You need to choose or build one that will have enough controls for everything you expect your RC model to do. A screen is not essential but if you are planning to control a large fleet of models without having to turn them on an off it will make selecting between them much easier.

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RC Receivers and Transceivers

Choosing the right receiver can be tricky, if you’re buying off the shelf then you are probably best to buy the controller and receiver as a package. If you are making your own then you need to decide what sort of radio you want whether communication will go one way (receiver) or two ways (transceiver). You need to decide how many controls you need e.g. for LEDs and servos and how many motors you want to drive. Then you need to make sure all the voltages are correct so you don’t damage the electronics.

RC Vehicle Control PCBs

Basic Control Boards

Sometimes you don’t need radio control to upgrade a model, you might want to automate something e.g. some sort of factory in your diorama or you might want a model to take instruction from another model e.g. a trailer with lights. You might also just want to add automated features to some static models so that you can position them around your diorama just to make it a little more interesting.

RC Tractor Guy Flasher Unit

Electronics

The trick to building your own RC control system is to take it stages. Get your receiver working, then add some LEDs and then add a motor driver IC. If you perfect your circuit is steps and save all you code separately then when it comes to putting it all together you’l find it easier to figure out which element is causing problems if you have any.

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