1.3 Hacking The RC Receiver

Considering that this is an RC Robot, the first part we should get is the receiver.

First, go to any store that sells small RC Cars, such as RadioShack or The Source, where there are ZipZaps and Microz GT cars. As I said earlier, any cheap car will do.


Here's a video of me dissablembling a ZipZaps and a Microz GT Car:



In this tutorial, I will use the ZipZaps receiver. The Extraction of the receiver is similar to the Microz car, and almost any car for that matter.

First, you must remove the aesthetic portion of the chassis.

Aesthetic Portion of Chassis is Removed

Now you'll need your small screwdrivers. Remove the single screw that's holding the main cover on. Remove the cover. There will be a small plastic tab that will need to be broken, just break it.


Now remove the screw holding down the circuit board. Be cautious, for this is to be your RC receiver on the robot.

Remove the Screw holding down the Circuit board


Now, Just cut the wires from the motors and the battery asclose as you can to th board. You may want to salvage those for much smaller applications.

Circuit Board flipped overCutting wires as close to the board as possible


Now that you have your receiver, you need to solder wires onto it and a battery connector. Cut 2 Red and 2 Black wires of the same length, any length will do. Strip half a centimeter of insulation of the ends of each wire.


Before we start soldering on the receiver, I IMPLORE YOU TO FOLLOW ALL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS AND MESURES IN ORDER TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF YOURSELF AND THE OTHERS AROUND YOU!!! Wear eye protection, wear a mask, whatever. Just STAY SAFE!!!

Now you may heat up your soldering iron. First we must remove and lefover solder from the receiver using a solder vacuum (sucks up molten solder) or a solder wick (draws out molten solder). Be careful not to remove the small surface mount transistors, for they are CRUCIAL to this robot.

Now, solder on the wires to the contacts of the board. Remeber, all you should need is 1 or 2 seconds of applying heat and a quick dab of solder. The transistors may try to move around, but keep them still. Don`t apply too much heat, else you risk frying the transistors.


Now, Solder on the battery snap connector leads using the correct polarities. (Using reverse polarities just won`t cut it, trust me, I`ve tried... ...okay, it was by accident, but still, reversed polarity is typically a BAD THING!)


Now for the final part of hacking the receiver; crimping on the connectors. To do this, you could use the nice Molex crimpers that are out there... ...but I don't own one. Instead, I used a small pair of pliers I typically use for electronic prototyping. They work just as well. If you are going to use the Molex crimper, then read this and follow its steps untill all your wires are done. That tutorial does use different contacts and headers, but the principals are generally the same. If you will use pliers (like me) then keep reading.


Place the contact on the wire so that one pair of flaps is covering the insulation. If you must trim the wire a little, then do so. Now, carefully fold the flaps on the insulation around it, one over the other, to create a firm bond. Do the same on the non-insulated sections.


Wires with Molex Contacts crimped onto their ends


 Next, we must insert the contacts into the housings. On the contact, you will notice a small tab on the back.

Molex Contact (Locking Tab is on top)



This is called the locking tab. Insert this into the housing so that the tab locks into the small rectangle hole. Don't insert it backwards, else you won't be able to get it out! Repeat these steps for all the wires.

Inserting the contact into the Housing

There! You're done hacking into the receiver. This is what the finished product should look like.

Finished product!

If you want to run a functionality test, hook it up to a multi-meter, insert a 3V battery pack and turn on the transmitter. Your output should be around 2.5V to 3V while pushing on the joysticks.


WAIT A SEC!!!!!!! What happens if I don't use that ZipZaps car? What if I use a different toy altogether?

Well, first determine where the motors were connected. You can easily do this by probing around with a multi-meter. Afterwards, just follow the rest of the steps for wiring connectors to the receiver.


Moving on to the Construction of the Chassis.



I remember back when I used to do the pliers method, but after learning the crimper method I realized how much better it is.

Also, for anyone who has a receiver board that doesn't look like this (from a different toy), just get out a multimeter and poke around while the circuit is powered. Look for signals/voltages that you can hack.

Thanks for mentioning that

Thanks for mentioning that Admin! I keep on forgetting to add it to the tutorial, I'll do that now.