How To: Build a Mini OpenRC F1 Leave a comment

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If you’ve ever looked into printing and assembling Daniel Noree’s OpenRC F1 car, you may be familiar with its size, Bill of Materials, and overall cost. Each of which can be potentially prohibitive; the large car means long print time to assemble the first time and even longer after it crashes, the bill of materials consists of a variety of screws, bearings, and electronics that are hard to get in the exact quantity (one of this screw, four of this bearing), or the cost of just getting everything is discouraging. Enter Skissografen and his ingenious idea: rather than sourcing all the individual parts that are needed, why not gut a cheap RC car for its hardware and electronics, and print everything significantly smaller to cut down on both print time and the time lost from a crash.

Print the Parts

Most of the parts used are the exact parts that Daniel Noree designed, just smaller. Others are slightly modified to accommodate the parts from the gutted RC car. In either case, all the parts are included in this Digital Design with the quantity needed listed as “2x_Part_Name.”

Tools Required

To put it together, you’ll need a couple different tools.

  • Pliers: for the really small nuts in the rims
  • Small Phillips Screwdriver: For all the screws that hold together the RC car
  • Art Knife: To clean up holes and any stringing on the parts.
  • Super glue: To glue on the small accessory parts like the mirrors.
  • Optional: Channel Lock Pliers: To press in the ball jointed steering links.

Gutting the RC Car

Once you have your RC car, there aren’t many parts that you’ll actually be saving. You need most of the drive assembly, and then a handful of screws that hold the bottom of the car to the rest of the parts.

You need to keep:

  • Controller
  • Battery
  • Control board (you don’t need the case)
  • Steering servo (with attached arm)
  • DC motor
    • Two screws that hold the motor to the frame
    • Small gear attached to motor
  • Front ball jointed steering units
  • Rear gearbox
  • X Countersunk screws
  • Large head screws
  • Tires
    • Optionally: Print this person’s tires
  • Optional: Rims

Step 1: Assemble the Base Plate

You’ll need:

  • The chassis plate
  • DC motor
  • Small gear that was on the motor shaft
  • Two screws that held the motor to the RC car mount

Whether you have the motor mounted with the red wire oriented above the black wire or below doesn’t matter, just assemble it so the motor fits into the hole in the chassis plate. Once you have the motor mounted, slide on the gear with the post facing the motor. Push it on until the gear is flush with the top of the motor shaft.

Step 2: Assemble the Rear Drive

You’ll need:

  • Chassis plate
  • The gearbox
  • The large gear from the original central drive shaft
  • 4 countersunk screws

Press the gear onto the gearbox like it was in the RC car. It my case it stayed secure as is, but with enough use it’s possible that you may need to use a little super glue to lock it on. Once you have the gear on, use the four screws to mount the gearbox onto the chassis plate.

Step 3: Front Steering

You’ll need:

  • 2 Rims (printed or stock)
  • 2 Ball jointed steering hubs
  • 2 Front axles
  • 2 Nylock nuts for the axles
  • 6 Countersunk screws
  • Long steering link
  • Short steering link
  • Steering block
  • Servo

First, you need to remove the metal links from both axles; remove the o-rings to be able to remove the links. Slide the axles through the steering hub, slide a rim over the axle, and screw on the nylock nuts. I found the easiest way to do this was to hold the nut with small needle nose pliers and turn the wheels to tighten down the nuts. You don’t want it completely tight, because too much pressure and the wheels won’t turn smoothly.

Once you have the rims assembled, it’s just a matter of snapping together the rest of the parts. You may need to clean up and widen the holes a little, otherwise the ball joints won’t be able to squeeze into the socket. Snap the short steering link onto the servo using the cylindrical socket rather than the flat one. The two rim assemblies snap into the steering block but make sure to assemble them as shown, as the ball joints are not symmetrical. Then snap the long steering link onto them.

With the steering assembly finished, snap the ball joints and use four of the countersunk screws to attach the block to the chassis plate with the steering link closer to the back of the car.

The servo just rests on the chassis plate, but be sure to attach the short steering link to the assembly with the servo arm pointed up and the printed short steering link pointed to the left side of the car.

Fit the front nose over the top of everything, and use two countersunk screws to attach it.

Step 4: Rear Rims and Controller

You’ll need:

  • 2 Rims (printed or original)
  • 2 Nylock nuts
  • Controller board

Attach the rims to the rear axle the same way you attach the front rims to their axles; use pliers to hold the nut and twist the wheel. Take the control board and plug the servo into it with the brown wire closest to the edge. Optionally, you can bend the pins 90 degrees back to help keep the wires out of the way of the drive gears. Things will fit best if you bend it as shown. Then plug everything into the board and try to keep everything neat and tidy.

Step 5: Mount the Body

At this point, you have a functional and barebones RC car. From here, you can either install the OpenRC F1 body or some other designed body. If you are still using the Mini parts, you’ll need:

  • Middle body
  • Rear body
  • Large head screw
  • 5 countersunk screw

Start off by screwing two of the countersunk screws into the inside of the middle body; it’s just easier to get them started when it isn’t already installed. Set the rear body over the rear gear box and secure it to the chassis plate with three countersunk screws. Set the middle body onto the chassis plate and use the two countersunk screws from before to secure it to the front body. Use the large head screw to secure the middle body to the rear body.

Step 6: Front and Rear Wing

You’ll need:

  • Front Wing
  • Rear Wing
  • Rear Light
  • Three large head screws
  • Super glue

Use one of the large screws to attach the front wing to the front body. Use the remaining two large head screws to attach the rear wing to the rear of the chassis plate. If you choose to install the rear light, you want to be sure to only glue it to the rear wing so you can swap out the parts for a different colored set whenever you want. Applying glue to the two upper arms will help achieve this.

Step 7: Gluing the Details

You’ll need:

  • Car Top
  • Camera
  • Rear View Mirror right and left
  • Shark Fin
  • Super glue
  • Art knife

These parts will all fit together a little snug on the best calibrated 3D printers or not at all. Use the knife to clean things up and make it easier to fit the parts together before gluing. The top camera should have the flat side facing the front of the car, the rear view mirrors should have the flat facing the back of the car, and the shark fin should be in with the small end in the car top. DON’T glue the shark fin into the middle body, otherwise you will never be able to open the car back up again without breaking things apart.

Step 8: Final Assembly

Once you have the car assembled, all you need to do now is install the rubber tires from the original RC car (or the ones you printed), and swivel the clamps into the chassis plate to hold down the car top (these are not glued in but are simply held on by tension).

With everything attached, you are ready to start racing! Open up the car, turn on the switch, and turn on the remote. There are four buttons on the side of the remote that control the steering trim and the throttle trim, so if it veers left, press the top button or if it veers right press the second button, continuing to press a button until it starts driving straight. If the car is going forward or backward when your hand is off the throttle, use the bottom and third button respectively to keep it stopped with no input.

And there you go! A much quick, cheaper, and zippier OpenRC car that should take you only a weekend to print, assemble, and race! From here you can print or design other bodies to go over the top of the chassis to create a fleet of different cars.

Happy racing!



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