Pi-Racey: On Your Marks…

Working at Boppl has, over the last 10 months, led to some exciting opportunities for me but the latest in-office challenge has brought the best of the techy/geeky sides out in all of us.

The challenge, presented to us by our CEO, was as follows:

With a budget of £200, create the best remote control car you can subject to the following rules:

  1. No pre-built Cars - Cars must be in the form of kits
  2. Images of the cars being built must be submitted to show you were the sole creator of your vehicle
  3. All cars must cost less than £200 (Half of which will be subbed) and all parts must be sourced from the UK
  4. All cars must be electric. Petrol cars or other engines are not allowed.
  5. You have 3 months (roughly) to complete your car
  6. (More rules can be added at any time)

The competition will compose of a series of tests that will put the cars up against each other and test numerous factors of the cars design. These tests are TBC, as are any prizes.

Many of the team went for the approach of purchasing professional looking kit RC cars such as Dark Impact to enter the competition. Clearly these cars can be upgraded through the purchase of components to replace their counterparts found in the kit. This allows cars to have faster motors, bigger wheels or even larger batteries. However, this approach did not suit me. I wanted to do something different and enter the challenge in my own unique way. Pi-Racey was my idea.

###Pi-Racey - The Concept

Having recently purchased a Raspberry Pi and tinkered with electronics using the Pi’s GPIO, I wondered how I could compete by using a Raspberry Pi to control an electric remote controlled car.

Through some initial research I came across a sample project from Kaazing that used web sockets to control a remote controlled car via a RaspPi and a website. I decided that I would use this project as a guide and ask if I could compete using this method.

The main issue with this approach would be the almost certain breaking of Rule 1, as the car would likely require to be pre-built to house the Pi and the components correctly. I requested that my car should be exempt from this rule and permission was granted on the grounds that idea was a novel solution.

This mini-blog will document my progress over the next few months in the completion of my car, that I have named pi-Racey.

###Unique Constraints The Kaazing project, as a guide, should help provide the basics of how to build the car through multiple additional components. But I imediately noted some unique constraints that will mean pi-Racey will require the Kaazing project to be modified. Such constraints include:

  • Wi-Fi: There is no gaurentee the location the tests will be held will have Wi-Fi and therefore web sockets may not be a valid solution
  • Electronic Expertise: I have only a very basic knowledge of electronics and curcuit building whilst this project will contain a lot of moderately complex electronics
  • Time & Money: Subject to the rules - I only have limited time and money to complete this
  • Experience: I have never attempted a project such as this previously. I am not sure where to start, where to source materials and whom to ask advice from!

I am hoping that in the upcoming months, these issues are addressed and I am looking forward to seeing how these affect the project.


The goals of the project are simple:

  1. Win. - However unlikely this may be, I want to produce the best car I can and add a new spin to the competition.
  2. Produce a fully functioning Raspberry Pi controlled RC car.
  3. Make any source code for the project open source under the MIT License and release it on my GitHub.

###What next? The competition has only just begun. I shall attempt to post regular updates on how the project is going.

For more updates please visit the pi-Racey website, or tweet me @EdGeorge92.

About Ed George

A 22 year old developer from Oxfordshire and graduate of the University of Nottingham.



© Copyright 2014-2018