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My kid's first motorized vehicle... already significantly modified :)


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#1 UselessPickles

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 09:01 PM

My 2-year-old son got a Power Wheels ATV for his birthday:
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(stock photo)

My father-in-law picked this one out specifically because it has a throttle grip like a motorcycle, and my kid definitely already likes throttle grips (click here for evidence). Unfortunately, it turned out to be quite lame. The throttle doesn't actually make it go. The pedal (what would be a brake pedal) makes it go, and then the throttle makes it go faster if you are already pressing the pedal. Even worse is that there's no proportional control. Just 2 on/off switches. It jerks pretty badly and scared my kid enough that he refused to get back on it.

That's all fixed now :)

I made some extensive modifications to the throttle tube and pedal so that they actuate potentiometers instead of switches. A friend of mine then helped be setup a custom circuit board with a microcontroller that I programmed to read the potentiometer positions and output a signal that is understood by speed controllers for R/C cars. Rewired the motors to hook up to a speed controller, and now I have fully proportional throttle, braking and reverse.

The throttle is now actually acting as a throttle, with 1/8 rotation of movement. The brake pedal acts as a brake if you are moving forward, but then also doubles as reverse if you release the pedal after stopping and press it again (this bit of fanciness is handled by the speed controller).

Full details and many pictures of the modification process can be found here: http://forum.modifie...php?f=26&t=1724

I'll include a few pics here for those too lazy to click a link.

Original throttle assembly:
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Modified throttle assembly:
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Modified pedal assembly:
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Custom electronics:
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The new complete electrical system:
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(big blue rectangle is a battery, much smaller and lighter than the original lead acid battery; small blue/black thing is the speed controller)

All installed:
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And a test ride courtesy of my sister-in-law:



I actually have it setup to go slower than stock right now until my kid gets more coordinated (he's a year younger than the minimum recommended age), but there's plenty of room for enhancing the speed now. It's at about 1.5mph now (slower than in the video), stock is 5mph, and I can get it up to about 8.5mph just with more/different batteries. A cheap ($40) motor upgrade should put it over 10mph :)
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#2 phroenips

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 09:09 PM

That seems like a whole lotta work! :P
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#3 UselessPickles

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 09:22 PM

That seems like a whole lotta work awesome! :P


I fixed it for you
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#4 FJR-RemingtonRider

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 10:00 PM

Wow!
Now that's a MOD.
Move the furniture about, he's about to sharpen them driving skills for the dirt bike coming next year.
You are gonna get an AWESOME Father's day present!

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#5 yamafitter

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 02:33 AM

Next Tech Day I'm bringing my R/C Star Wars Laser System and blowing that 'Traffic Copter' out of the sky.

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#6 El Toro Joe

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 03:27 AM

Pickles...your a wild man

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#7 Denver_FJR

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 05:22 AM

That is awesome work! It's like the electronic version of the G2 Throttle Tamer and custom Power Commander MAP all in one. Let the farkles begin!

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#8 BikerGeek99

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 05:48 AM

'Pickles was tellin' us about this at Tech Day II.

Once you meet him, you'll understand.

Personally, I think that's awesome! :good:
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#9 Jeremy

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 05:51 AM

That's awesome!!

Am I the only one that thinks a series of high end kids' cars by UselessPickles would sell like crazy to maniacal enthusiasts like us? What do you think U.P.? ;)

#10 UselessPickles

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 06:30 AM

You are gonna get an AWESOME Father's day present!


I think I might have already spent all the money that could have gone toward an awesome father's day present :(
Projects like this are expensive when you have to place multiple online orders for supplies because you don't really know exactly what you'll need until you're half-way done, and you can't find most of this stuff in local stores to look at it and confirm whether it will work before you buy it. Wire and connectors are especially expensive when you can only find them in larger-than-necessary quantities with shipping fees. Good news is that I almost have enough supplies to modify another Power Wheels for kid #2 next year :)

Am I the only one that thinks a series of high end kids' cars by UselessPickles would sell like crazy to maniacal enthusiasts like us? What do you think U.P.? ;)


The thought has crossed my mind :) I plan to work on improving the hardware/software to include the functionality of the speed controller so that all necessary electronics are on one board. That would allow me to have more control over what the motors are doing so that the brake pedal could be purely a brake pedal, and reverse would be accomplished by "shifting" into reverse with a button then using the throttle. If I can get that all working, I think I might be on my way to putting together a reasonable kit that could possibly be affordable to the buyer and make it worth my time/effort in profit.

Another option is for me to buy cheap used vehicles on craigslist, modify them, then resell them.
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#11 Niehart

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 07:00 AM

That really is very cool. Great job.

Oh, and UselessPickles, your son is very good looking. :lol:

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#12 Bustanut joker

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 07:22 AM

He's just a big kid.. ;) With awesome skillz!

Good work Jeff.
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#13 mattster31

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 08:11 AM


That seems like a whole lotta work awesome! :P


I fixed it for you


Damn Pickless......U got mad skillzzzz

Potentia....what???

Hey.... I can strip my bike down to the bare frame and such, but when it comes to electrical controllers and circuit board work.......my experience is nil.

Nice job.......what do you do for a living???
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#14 UselessPickles

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 10:21 AM

Nice job.......what do you do for a living???


Thanks :)

I'm a software engineer (or developer, depending on whether you're the type that insists that someone must have a post-grad degree to deserve the word "engineer" in their title). Either way, I design and develop software.

I actually really know nothing about electronics and hardware. I wouldn't have been able to get the circuit board setup properly without help from a friend that studied computer engineering. Writing the code for the microcontroller was where I was comfortable. I'll definitely be doing some research to learn more about the hardware side of things so that I can do more fun projects involving microcontrollers in the future.
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#15 UselessPickles

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 04:04 PM

My kid got his first ride on his modified Power Wheels today. He seems to be enjoying it much more now (he actually stayed on it for more than 30 seconds, then willingly got back on it himself again later). I like the look on his face after he whacks the throttle open :)


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#16 madmike2

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 06:46 PM

:clapping: Very cool!!! :clapping:


Uhm....tell "mom" that she has to learn to NOT worry about the flowers. I mean...er...once he's big enough for a dirt bike....
....welllll, y'know...:rolleyes:
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#17 dcarver

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 10:13 PM

I wanna be your son, what with cool toyz like that and all.

...whatcha say, Pops? :rolleyes:
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#18 gearman

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 03:27 AM

I had to chuckle when I saw this post. My wife picked up one of these for our grandson at a garage sale last year. It was an older model with no foot pedal and a thumb switch throttle. Of course papaw wasn't satisfied with the stocker and had to modify the steering stops and install a reverse switch.
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#19 rogdeb

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 04:39 PM

:clapping: Very cool!!! :clapping:

Ditto that :clapping:

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#20 beemerdons

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 04:51 PM


:clapping: Very cool!!! :clapping:

Ditto that :clapping:


+1, Gunny! Awesome work UselessPickles, you are a Great Dad!