Electronics

Electronic ChipsThe electronics and components you need will depend both on your skill and on the complexity of the tractor you wish to create. If you just want to create a simple radio controlled tractor you can try getting a cheap RC car removing the innards and then modifying them to fit into a diecast tractor model. Its nice and simple however you are unlikely to have speed control or be able to control lights, you are limited by the controls of the car.

One step up from this is to buy RC components separately for example you would need a controller, a receiver, a servo motor, an electronic speed controller and a motor/gearbox assembly. This gives you slightly more control however these components are usually quite bulky so they may be hard to fit into your diecast model. The benefit on the other hand is that you should have good speed control and very precise steering. There should also be a method of turning on LEDs as other RC car enthusiasts would have done that before.

The final solution to the problem is to use completely customised parts, use a Transceiver module to send signals and use a PIC microcontroller to control everything in the tractor. The downside of this is obviously the greater complexity involved in designing this set up, you need to program your microcontroller both in the tractor and in the controller, you need to be careful to regulate voltages where necessary. The benefit is you can add as much functionality as you like, control LED individually, have them flash, with a motor control chip you can control the motor, you can control the servo directly, you can easily send signals to trailers, the parts are smaller so you can fit them into anywhere there is space on your tractor. On the controller side you can add as many switches as you like, you can add an LCD display and then select between your fleet of vehicles using the one controller.

Probably the best advice is to start with the simplest and cheapest design you can come up with, electronics can be expensive so try to avoid complicated designs unless you know you can finish it. I found after building my first tractor that the second build was much simpler. This was because I knew what the problems were going to be and came up with simpler solutions, the end result is a much better tractor so try keep things as simple as possible and take inspiration from the RC car world, they’ve been building RC vehicles for a very long time so they’re bound to have learned a thing or two.



General Components

Common electronic components are cheap and having a good stock of the basic components like resistors, capacitors an transistors can make your RC build much easier.

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LEDs and LED Calculator

One of the most satisfying things to add to your RC vehicle is the LED lights. They are a simple feature to add once your worked out your currents and calculated the correct resistor.

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Microcontrollers (MCUs)

The brain of the RC vehicle can be hard to choose as there is a lot of MCUs on the market however most of you will want to choose Arduino modules because they are easy to learn and easy to use.

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Radio Modules

The next decision to make is what radio module to use, there is a huge choice of these as well and there is no clear winner. You’ll need to decide which suits your application best.

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Motor Driver Modules

Motor drivers can be tricky, I’ve used quite a few and the best I’ve found if the TB6612FNG motor driver. Other motor drivers like the L293D didn’t perform well with 3.7 Volts but might work well with higher voltages so again it depends on your build.


Siku Control 32 Drive Motors

Your choice of drive motor is limited by the space of the model you choose that is why using Siku drive motors makes a lot of sense, they are designed to fit in 1:32 scale tractor models. The downside is they are hard to find and expensive when you do find them.

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Tamiya Drive Motors

The Tamiya motors are a good alternative to the Siku Control 32 motors. They are a little bigger and with plastic gears are much more likely to break but they are cheap, readily available and you can change the gear ratio to suit your model.

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N20 Motors

N20 motors come in a huge range of gear ratios which gives you a massive amount of choice when it comes to deciding whether you want power or speed. They don’t come in a dual output version so you’ll need to figure out how to get the drive to the two wheels.


Model Speed Motor rpm Calculator

If you are trying to get a realistic speed from your RC Vehicle then you need to get the motor rpm correct. This little tools uses the real vehicle speed and the wheel diameter to calculate the required motor rpm.


Standard Hobby Servos

There is a huge range of choice in servos as they’re used in everything cars, boats, helicopters and planes. All these different applications have different requirements so you are bound to find something to suit.


Siku 4 Wire Servo

The Siku servo is a bit of a mystery with it’s four wire output. It appears to use a serial interface to a chip on board device which uses a camera motor driver chip to control the motor in the servo.

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555 and 556 Timers

The 555 timer is the basis for many electronics projects, particularly for those beginning to learn electronics. It is a simple integrated circuit capable of generating a number of simple waveforms.


Displays

If you want to monitor your RC vehicles battery voltage or you want a visual aid to know which vehicle you’re trying to connect to then a simple character LCD is what you need.

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