Hacked Gadgets Forum

August 17, 2006

Inside the Spy Video Car

at 6:01 am. Filed under Cool Gadgets, Toy Hacks


What is Hacked Gadgets doing with a toy? Taking it apart of course! What makes this thing tick, and how else can it be used? This Spy Car is no normal RC car, there is a cool black and white camera mounted on the car that sends live video back to the hand held controller. A head set plugs into the hand held controller and presto your right eye is watching whatever the car is pointed at. If that isn’t enough there is a switch on the side of the camera that turns on some IR LEDs to allow the camera to see in the dark. It reminds me a bit of the Dragon Runner

Not interested in the guts and just want to see the car, no problem. Check out the pictures on page two.

I can imagine numerous projects that this car could be used for:
1) Feed the video into your computer and build an interface to control the remote. This would allow the car to be driven around from your computer (or any other remote location).

2) Using the same interface from #1 use some artificial intelligence to drive the car around autonomously.

3) Rip out the original car control circuit and build your own. The size of the car is perfect for mounting all sorts of external sensors etc.

4) Use the electronics to control a large battery operated power wheels type vehicle.

To crack this thing open all you need is a Phillips head screwdriver, pop out a few screws from the bottom and pull.

The connector on the left (red, yellow and black wires) is for the camera. It simply unplugs from the main circuit board. There is also a single black wire that goes from the circuit board to the antenna screw, it is hard to see but this can be easily removed by unscrewing the antenna.

The camera and the head set is sealed, I could have taken the dremel to it but I will leave that for another day…

The large white unit at the bottom of the picture is what makes the car turn. Seems to have lots to torque so this unit could be used for many things. It is not proportional, so you only get hard right, center and hard left.

This is a great setup. The large chip lower left on the main board is the video transmitter. Seems like it is very separate from the rest of the system. It even has its own antenna, look for a small wire sticking out of a tube to the left of the transmitter chip. You might have noticed a small shark fin on the top of the car; this is not for styling, that is where the video antenna is.

The gearbox is very simple; it would be easy to control from any other circuit. Lots of electrical noise suppression on the motor so ditching the original control circuit and hooking up your own Microcontroller should be free of noise related restarts.

Nothing special about the front wheels, I love how modular they are though.

This is the back of the main car circuit board. Lots of surface mount components. Looks easy to mod though. Trace out what you want to take control of and cut the trace.

The remote comes apart as easy as the car does. You only need a Phillips screwdriver for this also.

The thumb controls are potentiometers that have spring returns.

The controller is also modular, you can see the video receiver in the lower left. The small antenna goes inside a small shark fin that is on the opposite side from the large antenna.

Lots of places to hijack the original circuit, though I didn’t trace things out it looks like it would not be hard.


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20 Responses to “Inside the Spy Video Car”

  1. Smarter than you Says:

    Damn, I think whoever shot this video may be either retarded or 12.

  2. JJ Says:

    This is one cool car! Thanks for sharing.

    Hey Smarter… Grow up are you 12?

  3. Chaz Says:

    It’d be cool to be able to control this via psp.

  4. Acren Says:

    Wow… it would be pretty fun… I need one of those.


  5. blue Says:

    You can see a similar project here:
    The robots are autonomous (AI) instead of human-controlled…

  6. Been there done that Says:

    Built this same kinda thing a while back. Mine probly cost more but still think its hot. Check it out.


  7. Alan Parekh Says:

    Nice job Ryan (6), looks great!

  8. Jim Vandiver Says:

    I was just wondering how hard it might be and how to encourage comments
    about some device exactly like this to run thru my ventilation ductwork
    to check it out for a possible rat! A cheap device should be great
    for anyone who has a need, such as folks that do duct cleaning. I’m going to
    pursue the idea now that a ready-made and inexpensive tool is available.

  9. 3D Joe Says:

    You can get your own spy video car at: http://www.shopwildplanet.com

  10. 21suicide Says:

    hey, as an avid airsofter, exposing myself completely around corners or over trenches usually ends up with me getting tagged out. since “gun” hits do not count as a kill, i have purchased one of these spy cars with hopes to rip off the wireless camera and attatch it to my gun (sig 552). since this thing runs off of AA batteries, i have chosen THIS over 12v wireless backup cameras. the black and white screen and resolution is acceptable for CQB work and the IR nightvision is decent enough to work with. what i want is some help excising the car’s wireless camera components AND equipping the power source to it,


  11. Dan Greere Says:

    I am very interested in the camera element. They must have done something tricky
    because they cannot be using NTSC transmission given the price of the toy. Do you have any
    insight as to how the camera works?

    You have a great sight!

  12. MLKatz Says:

    The Transmitter / receiver is a standard 2.4GHz wireless video link, cost about$20USD in qty from Taiwan, check out Lawmate.com / Anaposi(if they still exist) – Camera is a cheap B&W CMOS camera with IR LEDs for illumination, they are probably making the whole car for $50 packaged. The neat thing in this device is the monochrome LCD HMD (head mounted display) with the receiver. Like a camcorder viewfinder. The LCD and backlight is made by Kopin..

  13. jim, again Says:

    Second thoughts: when we do a test drive of these things I’d like to see how well they handle rougher terrain, across a lawn with long grass and bumps and a hose and maybe over a brick, mulch — to see how versatile they are. Thanks again.

  14. arturo Says:

    men im a mexican student, and my engliish isent berry good but since I saw this I was like , damm I nedd to buy one, but mi fathers bitday was in tose days, maby it was destini but, I went with a friend to a place were they sell amerian stufs loke toys, and I saw the car for only 10Dll the problem, it dirent have the LCD, since im in electronic I want to make it to see it in a normall tv

    do any body nows if it is posible that usin the vss and the video outs from the jack port in the control its posible to past it to a RCA cable for video? im going to buy a cable and try to make it

    triying to conect it like te ipod video, the only tink that worries me, the video signal, and if I can use that vss .
    if any body have made it please tell me how, If I make it im going to be sooo fuking happyy 😛

    still and Idea but usefull if I manage to maque it 😛

  15. Shaun Says:

    According to http://jakeofalltrades.wordpress.com/2007/09/30/25-head-mounted-display/ the camera and display are PAL. The display however has a resistor that when removed sets it to NTSC mode, and with a little re-wiring of the video plug can accept any NTSC input. Funny I thought the same thing about using it for Airsoft even though I’ve never played.

  16. tick control Says:

    […] there is a cool black and white camera mounted on the car that sends live video back to the handhttp://hackedgadgets.com/2006/08/17/inside-the-spy-video-car/Flea and Tick ControlIt&39 sa barely noticeable sensation, just a whisper of a tickle. You reach to […]

  17. bigbossvickey Says:

    can i get the circuit of the rc car since i have a 49 mhz remote i intend to build a rc car

  18. Alan Parekh Says:

    Hi bigbossvickey,

    It was actually put back together.

  19. Jacob Brown Says:

    I am trying to put together a similar system in an RC airplane.

    here is some info i found on the video 2.4 Ghz TX/RX pair that i found in my automotive backup camera(google: PEAK PKC0RC)

    this TX/RX pair is common in a lot of video transmitters (info from FCC database)

    the TX/RX pair is capable of full color composite NTSC/PAL video and stereo audio, so you could swap out the camera with a color one and add sound as a first mod, you would also need to add a color monitor and speakers/headphones to the receiving end.

    the TX/RX has 3 channels that can be selected, by tying one of three pins to ground

    now i don’t know everything about these transmitters/receivers but here is the schematic

    looking down at the Transmiter you should see a white triangle in the upper left corner (if it’s not in the upper left orient yourself so it is), numbering the pins counter-clockwise
    pin 1: +5V
    pin 2: CS0 (channel select 0, tie to ground for channel 0)
    pin 3: CS1 ”
    pin 4: CS2 ”
    pin 5: BX (not sure what this one is, but mine is tied to ground)
    pin 6: GND (ground)
    pin 7: RF_OUT (antenna)
    pin 8: RF_SHLD (antenna shield)

    and on the other side, continuing counter-clockwise
    pin 9: GND
    pin 10: VIDEO_IN
    pin 11: GND
    pin 12: LEFT_AUDIO
    pin 13: GND
    pin 14: RIGHT_AUDIO

    and the Reciever
    orient yourself so the antenna wire is in the upper left
    call the antenna pin 1 and the antenna shield pin 2

    pin 1: ANT
    pin 2: ANT_SHLD

    now going from left to right along the bottom, or counter-clockwise around
    pin 3: BX (again not sure what it is, but its tied to ground)
    pin 4: SPIDATA/CS2 (channel select 2)
    pin 5: SPILE/CS1
    pin 6: SPICLK/CS0
    pin 7: +5V
    pin 8: LEFT_AUDIO
    pin 9: RIGHT_AUDIO
    pin 10: VIDEO_OUT
    pin 11: GND

    the CS[0-1] pins look dual use and, in my case are connected to a PIC.

    i hope this may help others


  20. Spy Video TRAKR Claw Attachment Hack - Hacked Gadgets - DIY Tech Blog Says:

    […] TRAKR. The new version of the spy car has a ton of additional features when you compare it to the older Spy Video Car that we took apart. Wildplanet has really gone in a good direction with this new device since they […]

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