Let's Make Robots!

Web Controlled IP Camera Robot on R/C Rock Crawler Chassis

24 Sep 2014 Update: Project still going... Some parts have arrived, still waiting on other parts... and some will be ordered soon.

Latest Blog Entry (19 Aug 2014):  Phase 9 - Web Control (Serial Preview/Wannabe Web Control)

Notice: Currently WIP on Phase 6 & awaiting parts.

See project ouline and links to the blog articles below.

This is my first robot, but not my first electronics project. I am an R/C hobbyist and have had several cars, planes, helicopters, multi-copters and scratch-built/kit bashed a scale model boat, converting it to R/C (it was a mess but I learned a lot). A few months ago I bought my first Arduino kit and took right to it since I had previously learned a bit of C++.

I am building a web accessible IP camera robot out of an R/C Rock Crawler platform for remotely accessed security. With any complicated task, I take it one step at a time and make sure that step is working before moving on. It is tedious, but I feel it's necessary for my personal understanding and growth. I am a novice, but I appreciate a clean, structured, thorough approach to my hobbies.

This project & blog entries are picture heavy, as not only every step, but my thinking and planning are logged with pictures as well. To begin, I debated over many solutions for a chassis - both pre and scratch built. I ended up purchasing a Maisto Tech Rock Crawler, because it offered both an R/C platform that is widely modded and much information is already out there on it. It is also a very cost-effective kit for its performance. $30 will get you a 4WD chassis capable of crazy feats of suspension which will be easily traverse an indoor environment: carpet, toys, clothes, etc.

I have a list of goals, ideas and features I wish to achieve. These project phases should build upon eachother. Ideally, anything I do to the R/C vehicle should be easily reversed if I decided to use the stock transmitter/receiver (for any testing purposes), so all electronics are kept aside safely.

Phase 1 (completed) Link to Blog Post

  • Testing stock R/C unit

Phase 2 (completed) Link to Blog Post

  • Install and test motor shield

Phase 3 (cancelled) AFMotor library conflict with IRremote library (both use timer 2)

  • ir receiver/remote sketch (completed) Link to Blog Post
  • Manual ir control (cancelled) AFMotor library conflict with IRremote library (both use timer 2) Link to Blog Post

Phase 4 (completed) Link to Blog Post

  • hc-sr04 static mount testing
  • hc-sr04 sweeping servo mount 
  • auto roam mode

Phase 4.1 (completed) Link to Blog Post

  • route choices in obstacle avoidance

Phase 5 (completed) Link to Blog Post

  • project enclosure

Phase 6 (WIP)


  • flashlight
  • collision sensor/accelerometer
  • motion detector
  • line or edgde detection (not a priority)
  • other ideas as they strike

Phase 7

  • small robo claw/arm combo

Phase 8

  • ip camera mounted & set up

Phase 9 

  • wannabe web control/serial commands (completed) Link to Blog Post
  • web control: all stop/start button
  • web control: manual control
  • web control: enable auto-roam if signal lost to wander back into signal

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My first post here :)


Have you made a design decision regarding the IP camera yet? I would be interrested on what you have came up with.

I'm planning to build a similar robot as you but on a poor studet's budget. I'm thinking of using 2 android phones in direct Wi-Fi mode. I would put an old android phone on the robot and use a tablet to connect to it directly but I have yet to try the setup yet.

You can have a streaming ip camera app on the robot and a bluetooth or wifi listener on the robot, then have a bluetooth or wifi controller app in background and watch the camera stream on the browser. Next step is to allow to send command from the web, but i haven't found yet a valid open source ip camera app. I guess i can try to make one:)

Thanks :)

I'll experiment with this first before designing an app but I have to dumpster dive for usable phones first.

It'll be interresting to compare apps if you decide to go through with making your own.

I read your project explanations, very clever work. I picked up a Maisto and some NiMH batteries, its an amazingly nimble platform for the money. I'd like to use it for some projects similar to what you are doing. But I am looking at the disassembly and having a problem. Took out 4 screws to remove the top body cover, and then another 4 screws to hopefully be able to pull off the top of the PCB case and get at the wiring. It won't come off! I am thinking it may have been glued on? Am I missing something? I don't want to have to dremel the top off of the case. Did it just pull right off for you or you had to do something else?

Hey Capstan, thanks for the compliment. The vehicle's car/truck-like body is held in place with 4 screws. Remove them and you're looking at the main chassis (wheels, suspension, battery compartment and the 4 horned compartment that holds the R/C motherboard. That compartment has 8 screws holding it together. 4 beside each of the grey socket joints and and 4 more (2 on each side) that clamp it to the black ball & socket joints. Here's a closeup where you can see the two screw holes on each side of the black socket and one hole next to the grey sockets. Shouldn't be glued together.


Would love to follow your project, too!

Thanks, I had removed all of the screws as you said but still could not pull off the cover for the motherboard compartment. I borrowed a rotory tool and cut the top cover off (avoiding the various mounts). Apparently the one I bought was in fact glued together. Maybe they did it to keep water from getting in and corroding things. At any rate I exposed the existing board and snipped it out. Your explanations were extremely helpful.

I am using the IOIO-OTG board, which can be driven by ordinary Android cellphones. I decided to go with the Rover 5 motor controller like you did, and that has worked out reasonably well. It was a fair amount of work wiring everything up, and also writing the Android application to drive the finished product. I made things doubly time-consuming by designing it such that all the major components can be taken apart without unsoldering anything and reused in other projects. I think next time I won't go to that trouble. Its a bit of a wiring nightmare but it works. When I get finished I intend to post the details on the forum here.


I have always used R/C tucks as my testing and playing beds.  You have a good base to work with.

The Adafruit Motor shield is a nice and easy board and library to use, but....  You will find it may limit you in what you can do with your controller board.  It eats up a lot of io pins and timers.

For your setup you could go for a 20amp or so esc to run the rear motor and a small h-bridge like a L9110s or a relay board (for the steering) This would free-up a good many resources on your uC. You could also opt for a different h-bridge shield for the two motors.

There are many other options as well.

Have fun! 

You are correct, it is a pin hog. For those interested, you can see the pin usage on this photo: 



I'll be looking into the motors and shield in more detail on a future blog post for this project.

Yes, I can do it with a bit of help; one of the reasons that LMR is great is the number of people with different area of expertise.

I can solder and program almost anything. Networking, no problem. But ask me to design a motor driver and I'll for for a Sabertooth or a RoboClaw any time. I like Adafruit and have a number of their items. However, unless you really need a lot of motors right now, I think that's the wrong shield for you.

A long time ago I made some basic H-Bridge boards from an IC; it's probably easier today. And Adafruit and SparkFun sell a couple of prototyping shields for the Arduino.

I think that you need more of a robot oriented shield with exactly the number of motor drivers you need plus some sensor inputs. Sometimes it's more fun to buy, sometimes to build.

For myself, I buy my motor drivers because I'm lazy. I use the Sabertooth and such because I like playing with large robots and I don't want to set the bot on fire. I've seen what happens when I play with power electronics when I'm not careful and I like to build big bots with large motors. Maybe in six months I'll feel comfortable enough to build a large H-Bridge board. :)

Good luck!

I tend to work in a much more chaotic fashion. I think that you'll accomplish more, faster. I look forward to seeing what you'll accomplish.