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.