M.L. Toys
M.L. Toys
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By Houdeani01
Hello Everyone,
I am new to the forum but I’m loving what I am reading and have seen some pretty cool projects on here. My son Parker just got has first Peg Perego Gator this Christmas and is only 2 years old but boy I already have the thing ripped apart and am beginning the upgrade process. I understand there is a lot you can do and my son will not be ready for most of it this year but I want to get it perfected by the time he is ready.

I wanted to get a thread started on my build and its progress and open it up for suggestions. Being new to this hobby I am sure there are many things I will learn the hard way so any input good or bad is welcomed. Here is my part list and my plan.

Traxxas - Titan 550 Motor (#3975) two of these
Dimension Engineering – Sabertooth 2x25amp Motor Controller
Arduino – Duemilanove Microcontroller
LuxDrive – FlexBlocks for lighting
14 – 3w 200 Lumen Led’s for headlights 7 per headlight
Lots of misc electronics see attached schmatics.

The first part of the project is headlights which I already have all the electronics done and am currently machining holders for the lenses. There are two headlights each consisting of a FlexBlock (constant current driver 700mA) and 7 3w 200 lumen LED’s. These things are very bright and I have them set up for regular beams and brights approx. 60% power and 85% power respectively. The reason I do not go to 100% is they are very very bright and the LEDs get warm anywhere above 90%.

The lights were the easy part I am now working on the rest. I am building all new wiring harness for the vehicle and upping it to 18 Volts. The main power lines are Stranded 10 gauge and all breakoffs will be 12 gauge. The goal is to have the whole vehicle controlled by a micro controller that polls the vehicle and monitors changes to all the inputs. I have a Sabertooth 2X25amp to power the new Titan550 motors. I am making the gas pedal and new added brake pedal both variable with a slide potentiometer. I am also adding in a NOS feature. I will also add a switch to change between forward and reverse.

I am making all my own functions to calculate rate of increase over time based on pedal input. I want the vehicle to drive more like a car so my functions will take into account pedal position, current speed, max speed, rate of last increase, speed increase time in milliseconds. I plan to send a speed update to the motor controller every 100 milliseconds and then repoll all the inputs.

So here is the high level outline of the system. The first thing is the gas and brake pedal, I am working on fabricating mounts and adding in the slide pots. The program will monitor both inputs and send commands to the motor based on their positions. In the event the brake and gas are pressed the brake will always win. There will also be a potentiometer to set max speed of the vehicle (hidden from my son) so I can set limits as I plan on this being much faster than the original. The max speed will be roughly 20% less than what the vehicle can do and this is where the NOS comes in.
The NOS system will have an arming switch and then another button to activate it. This is a blinking button that will let you know when NOS is available. It will only blink and be active when the vehicle is in motion and at 70% power or above. When you hit the NOS button the system very rapidly ramp to max speed.

I have the electrical schematics done (see attached) I am working on the arduino code and am getting close. I am sure I left a lot of detail out but I am looking for input and ideas from anyone who is as interested in this stuff as I am.

Main wiring Schematic
Main.jpg (290.97 KiB) Viewed 20341 times
Switches.jpg (170.58 KiB) Viewed 20341 times
Lights wiring schematic
Lighting.jpg (255.38 KiB) Viewed 20341 times
Last edited by Houdeani01 on Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

One question I do have is I am going to put a 100amp keyed switch between the 12V+ and the 6V- to turn the system on and off. Can I leave both batteries hooked up and charge them using a 12V charger for the 12V battery and 6V charger for the 6V battery without taking them out of the car? These should be seperate circuts correct if i disconnect the link between the two batteries?
I have charged them while still hooked up in the car with the power to the car disconnected. Thats the way my Rhino project was done. I just have 2 different charging jacks. With the Rhino, probably like the Gator, I had to get creative on where I put the 6v 12ah battery. That meant bolting it down and covering it up. If I were to do it again, I would put in disconnect switches to kill the 6v and 12v circuits in case anything ever went bad. Ive had it this way for a few weeks and charging hasnt been an issue yet. Hope that helps.
Hello All,

I got quite a bit done on the Lighting system in the last week or two so I thought I would show some pictures of my progress.

Here are the pictures of the Brake lights. I was thinking of buying a premade light but there was no good place to mount it on the gator and the existing lens is curved so I decided to come up with my own. It is very simple and I just took 20 red LED's per brake light and made a template to drill the holes. They are wired in series in sets of 5.
Brakelights Start.JPG
Here I drilled the holes in one fender
Brakelights Start.JPG (421.44 KiB) Viewed 20286 times
Brakelights leds installed.JPG
Led's installed
Brakelights leds installed.JPG (292.74 KiB) Viewed 20286 times
Brakelight inside.JPG
View from the back
Brakelight inside.JPG (444.79 KiB) Viewed 20286 times
Brakelight test.JPG
Testing one Brakelight
Brakelight test.JPG (390.86 KiB) Viewed 20286 times
As for the headlights I have been working on for a little bit longer on and my dad has access to a machine shop so we made the holders custom to fit this vehicle and hold the lenses I have. Here are some pictures of the process.
Headlight lense and LED.JPG
Headlight lense and LED.JPG (439.3 KiB) Viewed 20286 times
Headlight Prototype.JPG
here is a prototype that I started with
Headlight Prototype.JPG (385.41 KiB) Viewed 20286 times
Headlight Test.JPG
testing the LED's in the house
Headlight Test.JPG (382.44 KiB) Viewed 20286 times
Here is the final bracket we came up with that is made out of Nylon.
Headlight Front.JPG
Headlight Front.JPG (325.09 KiB) Viewed 20286 times
Headlight Back.JPG
Headlight Back.JPG (308.42 KiB) Viewed 20286 times
Limit of 9 pictures so here is one more post with the brackets for each headlight side by side. Next step is to get everything installed on the Gator and wired up. I am finishing of the mounting brackets for the constant current drivers, then I should be set. The headlights have High and low beams and the brakelights get brighter when brakes are pressed.

More pics to come soon
Headlight brackets.JPG
Headlight brackets.JPG (350.76 KiB) Viewed 20285 times
Nice work on the Gator. I want to see a 2800 lumen headlight in my hand, working. Then I want you to make it into a flashlight that will fit a gear belt then I want to test it.
I will try to finish up the Constant current drivers in the next few nights so I can take a few pictures of the headlights in action so you can see how bright they are. I am thinking I will take sisde by side pictures compared to my cars headlights so you can get a better idea. The lenses I ended up going with are 10 degree lenses on the outside 6 bulbs and a 25 degree in the center.

Here are the remaining parts to go into the gator.
Parts.JPG (468.43 KiB) Viewed 20269 times
I am also getting really close to complete with the code for the micro controller and I can throw that up here if any one would like to look. I am also very open for any input ot ideas.

The next project I am working on is fabricating the new plate to hold a gas and brake pedal. The stock one only holds a gas pedal and it is on or off. I am working on fabricating a plate that will hold both pedals and a slide potentiometer to allow for variable speed and braking. Pictures to come soon.
I finally got around to finishing up the headlight assembly and got everything tested. I like the way they look it makes a very nice beam it is quite a bit different than a cars headlights and I am debating if I should order some 5 degree lenses to focus the beam even more. I guess you can take a look and be the judge here are some pictures from the final assembly.
Constant current Drivers.JPG
Constant Current Driver Box
Constant current Drivers.JPG (431.27 KiB) Viewed 20235 times
All the Parts Disassembled
Assembly.JPG (475.37 KiB) Viewed 20235 times
One Headlight.JPG
One Head Light Installed
One Headlight.JPG (412.33 KiB) Viewed 20235 times
Front View.JPG
Front View Assembled
Front View.JPG (465.74 KiB) Viewed 20235 times
Back View.JPG
Back View Assembled
Back View.JPG (479.91 KiB) Viewed 20235 times
Here is an image of my Mazda’s Car Headlights for comparison
Car Headlight.JPG
Car Headlights
Car Headlight.JPG (264.26 KiB) Viewed 20235 times
Here are the High and low beams for the new Gator headlights
Gator Headlight low.JPG
Gator Low Beams
Gator Headlight low.JPG (260.66 KiB) Viewed 20235 times
Gator Headlight Brights.JPG
Gator High Beams
Gator Headlight Brights.JPG (268.35 KiB) Viewed 20235 times
Does anyone on here know much about the battery discharge gauges? I am thinking about buying a Curtis 803 battery discharge gauge to monitor the batteries. Any one else out there used any type of Hague like this and or do you have any suggestions?
I had some time over the past few nights to get the switches mounted on the dash. I ended up putting the two headlight switches (on/off and High/low beams) on either side of the steering wheel where they were labeled on the sticker. I took some doing and work with the Dremmel but I got the key switch mounted in the original spot and the only noticeable part is I had to make the hole bigger for the new key. It really looks good though as I did not want that big 100 amp key switch sticking out of the front. I also hand painted the Nitrous arming button using an Avery label and cut out the word with a Xacto knife. The NOS/ Go Baby Go Button is mounted on the center of the steering wheel. I also wounded the circuit breaker switch just to the right of the steering wheel.
original panel.JPG
Here is what I started with
original panel.JPG (477.22 KiB) Viewed 20191 times
new panel.JPG
Here is my new dash as it sits now
new panel.JPG (438.66 KiB) Viewed 20191 times
Nos Button.JPG
Close up of NOS button
Nos Button.JPG (420.7 KiB) Viewed 20190 times
I am up in the air where I want to put the forward reverse switch at this point. I am open for suggestions on this or interested to here what others would do. My dilemma is that the center shifter is not going to be needed at all with the new electronics I am putting in. I was planning on making a fiberglass cover and paint it to go on the stock shifter spot and then the forward reverse switch was going to be on the dash. Now I am considering putting it in the stock shifter location but I am not sure what to use. Any thoughts would be helpful.
Last edited by Houdeani01 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By Houdeani01
I already had to redo the button layout. The reason being I was letting my son play with the steering wheel and push the NOS button and every time he pushed it he would say beep beep. So now I need to add a horn to the project and move the NOS button to the dash and have a horn button in the center of the steering wheel. Here are the updated picks along with some wiring pictures.
Main dash layout without Steering Wheel
Dash_Complete.JPG (475.54 KiB) Viewed 20164 times
Main dash layout with Steering Wheel
Dash_CompWsteer.JPG (458.92 KiB) Viewed 20164 times
Back View of Dash
Dash_Switches.JPG (488.45 KiB) Viewed 20164 times
Wiring under the hood (So Far)
Dash_Wiring.JPG (488.41 KiB) Viewed 20164 times
User avatar
By Houdeani01
So after going back and forth on a number of remaining items I am moving things around quite a bit and redoing the electrical Diagrams. I originally planned on putting all the electronics under the dump bed but the more I thought of it the dumber that idea sounded. The only thing back there are the motors and brake lights, all the rest of the controls are in the front of the vehicle. I decided to redo the microcontroller to the front of the vehicle and switch some of the components. I am now going to use an optoisolator to control the brake lights instead of the NPN transistor. I am also pulling out the max speed control out of the gator and putting it into a handheld unit.

The new handheld will communicate with the Gator via Xbee chips and will have 2 buttons and a potentiometer. The buttons will give me the ability to start and stop the motors no matter the state (as long as the key switch is on). The potentiometer will allow me real time control of the max speed of the vehicle. I will not directly control the speed the vehicle is going just the speed it is capable of. This will allow me and the wife to feel a little more comfortable with him driving it at higher speeds. On the plus side I do not have to redo anything I have already done, well except the schematics of course.

Images and new schematics to come shortly.
User avatar
By madmaxdecals
Awesome work! should post this in the project thread to get more views and suggestions...really awesome job though!
User avatar
By Houdeani01
Ok I have done quite a bit of work on the electrical side of things and reorganizing the electrical diagrams. I moved most of the electronics under the hood; the only two things that will be under the dump bed will be the Sabertooth motor controller and the 6 volt battery. I have a good start on the Arduino controller and Xbee wiring harnesses so testing is within sight. I should get the last few parts I need for the remote today or tomorrow (couple switches and Xbee adapters) so I can get them communicating. I will have more pics to post this week but for now here are the new schematics for anyone that is interested.
Main wiring under the hood
GatorControlmain.jpg (360.9 KiB) Viewed 20041 times
Dash Switches/Shifter/Gas & Brake
GatorControlswitches.jpg (208.37 KiB) Viewed 20074 times
GatorControllighting.jpg (248.46 KiB) Viewed 20074 times
Motor Wiring
GatorControlMotor.jpg (149.84 KiB) Viewed 20074 times
Remote Control Wiring
GatorControlremote.jpg (261.25 KiB) Viewed 20041 times
Last edited by Houdeani01 on Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By madmaxdecals
Sweet....great project...very informative
User avatar
By Houdeani01
Nothing to post on the remote yet I am up in the air on the type of battery I want to use. I am thinking it would be much easier to have a rechargeable in there so I never have to open the box to change batteries.

Anyway I have been working with my dad because he has access to a machine shop and we have a good start on the new gas and brake pedals. We are still working out the mechanics on how they will work but here is a few pics to give you an idea of what they are going to look like when finished.
Picture of pedals and plate to go into stock Gator opening
pedals_start.JPG (189.48 KiB) Viewed 20046 times
Pedals with bracket and Slide pots
pedals_startwithswitches.JPG (155.41 KiB) Viewed 20046 times
User avatar
By madmaxdecals
Those pedals will be cool....can't wait to see them all done
User avatar
By Houdeani01
Yeah me to we are going to get a few hinges and come up with a spring mechanism which is the easy part. We are just trying to come up with what to do on the face of the pedal for traction. I am thinking at this point to machine in maybe 10 - 15 tapered holes in each pedal but am definitely open for suggestions.
User avatar
By madmaxdecals
well...the tapered holes are a good idea...or you could use the traction tape that skateboards use....but I think the tapered holes will look cleaner
User avatar
By aVWguy
as long as the edges are clean and not sharp i say go for it the tapered holes should give a nice clean look

another option along the lined of what madmax suggested would be hitting a JD dealer and getting the grip tapes with the deere emblems printed in as used on alot of garden tractors that would give a clean look and a more JD stock appearence

if the pedals are thick enough .. perhaps even engraveing the deere badge and diagonal lines surrounding it would look good and provide grip
Last edited by aVWguy on Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By Houdeani01
Hello again,

I finally got the remote done and I forgot to take pictures so I will post them tonight. I spent far too much time trying to save battery and cost by inserting a XBEE only into the remote. This proved to be very difficult using XBEE Direct on one side and API packets from the microcontroller side. I finally gave up and put a microcontroller in the remote to process everything and just use the XBEE for sending commands. Once I did that it was a piece of cake and I had it up and running in no time. I should have just done that the first time through and I could have had 10 other things done by now. Oh well live and learn I guess.

The remote has 3 functions that it will be able to do (in version 1.1). It can change the available max speed of the vehicle on the fly, meaning it can set the top speed available not control the speed directly (I could do this but without steering I am going to hold off). The other two functions will give me the ability to shut the vehicle down at any point and start it up again. The remote will interrupt all code on the microcontroller meaning if i hit stop I will interrupt the code and apply full brakes to the Gator (good safety feature for when he is younger). Then when I hit start it will just be like powering the vehicle up again.
User avatar
By madmaxdecals
Sounds awesome....can't wait to see some more pics
User avatar
By Houdeani01
Here are the remote pictures so far. I am going to add a dial to the Potentiometer so you can see where you are setting it. I also may end up painting the remote John Deere green but have not decided yet. Anyway here are the pics.

Here is a view of the top of the remote, the switch in the upper left is power switch, knob in the middle is max speed knob, and the red and green switches are stop and start respectively.
Top View
Remote_top.JPG (439.64 KiB) Viewed 19966 times
If you look at the Guts picture (yes I know it is a little messy but there was too much crap to cram in that little box) you will see mainly the Arduino microcontroller hanging out. On the far right side of the box is the XBEE Adapter breakout board and the XBEE. You can also see the 6V 1100mAh NiMH battery in the center. The charging port is on the far left side.
Remote Guts
Remote_Guts.jpg (478.92 KiB) Viewed 19966 times
User avatar
By Houdeani01
aVWguy wrote:as long as the edges are clean and not sharp i say go for it the tapered holes should give a nice clean look

another option along the lined of what madmax suggested would be hitting a JD dealer and getting the grip tapes with the deere emblems printed in as used on alot of garden tractors that would give a clean look and a more JD stock appearence

if the pedals are thick enough .. perhaps even engraveing the deere badge and diagonal lines surrounding it would look good and provide grip
Ok aVWguy you talked me in to it (you really had to try) the pedals are at my dad's work right now and in the hands of the CNC Mill operator, I should have them back by Monday or Tuesday next week. I can't wait to see them we are just going to put the words John Deere on the pedals though not the whole emblem.
User avatar
By aVWguy
any progress??? i need tro ssseeeee pics :lol:
this build had my attention as soon as i read "Arduino Microcontroller"
those are fun multi purpose toys indeed lol
User avatar
By Houdeani01
Sorry about the delay, the guy got hung up this week I am waiting to here today if he had the chance to get the pedals done. I have not made much more progress on anything else except for the code to run everything. Lots of code for all this stuff I am putting in. My big accomplishment this week was getting all the code and testing done for the remote, starting, stopping, and changing speed is all working with a small keep alive script to let you know if you loose connection to the power wheel.

I need to get everything put back together very quickly here as it is very nice here in MN and I am ready for him to start driving it.
User avatar
By aVWguy
upstate NY is still alot of mud but getting warmer .. i'll have to get atleast one og mine out for a few test runs soon too
i've been takeing a break from the bpros the past couple days for work lol .. building a bicycle shop finaly
User avatar
By Houdeani01
Ok I could not wait to see them so I had him take some pictures and send them over. They turned out very cool.
photo 1.JPG
Both Pedals
photo 1.JPG (72.61 KiB) Viewed 19839 times
photo 2.JPG
Close Up
photo 2.JPG (124.82 KiB) Viewed 19839 times
Last edited by Houdeani01 on Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By madmaxdecals
Freakin' sweeeeet
User avatar
By Houdeani01
Thanks I will leave them black now it is just a matter of getting everything I built back into the Gator and get some testing done so he can actually use it. I thought I would have another month here before it had to be done but he could be out driving it now so I have some work to do.
Last edited by Houdeani01 on Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By Houdeani01
Pedal Assembly complete! the plate just goes in the factory spot for the single pedal.
Top View
pedals_Top.JPG (166.67 KiB) Viewed 19724 times
Back View
pedals_Back.JPG (145.56 KiB) Viewed 19724 times
Bottom View
pedals_Bottom.JPG (138.31 KiB) Viewed 19724 times
Side View
pedals_Side.JPG (161.64 KiB) Viewed 19724 times
User avatar
By madmaxdecals
That is awesome man....nice work
User avatar
By Houdeani01
I had everything set up in the garage over the weekend and began assembly to get this thing up and running. I had to do some modification to get the pedals to fit because the slide pots were a little long. Other than that things went together smoothly and I was able to start testing. I had the laptop hooked up to the microcontroller as I was running all my tests and was able to clean up the code and fix many of the minor bugs. They were small things like Boost light remaining on after boost state was done, around 0 speed it would go from -2 to +2 and a few other little things. I got the code all good to go and I was ready to fire up the motors and nothing…

After hours of troubleshooting and checking my com lines and packet construction I found out the motor controller was not working. It’s on its way back to Dimension Engineering for a replacement so looks like the poor little guy is going to have to wait just a little bit longer. My son will have to wait too 
User avatar
By Houdeani01
Well I decided to throw everything together; I am still waiting for the motor controller. At this point it is a stationary really big flashlight :) Here are some pics until I can get the controller back.
Lots of electronics under the hood
Final_Hood.jpg (491.46 KiB) Viewed 19626 times
Here is where all those electronics plug into
Final_Bay.jpg (460.07 KiB) Viewed 19626 times
Final_Above.jpg (471.18 KiB) Viewed 19626 times
Assembled with headlights on
Final_Headlights.jpg (475.05 KiB) Viewed 19626 times
User avatar
By Houdeani01
It runs like a paperweight at this point because I am still waiting for the motor controller to get shipped back to me. As of right now he can only sit in it and play with the switches. Although I did push him around in the yard the other night and he liked it.
User avatar
By aVWguy
its a deere .. that running condition is known as lawn orniment lol
its an awesome little ride!!!! cant wait to see it in action
User avatar
By Houdeani01
Yeah the pedals turned out really good and all the kids in the neighborhood love it already and that is with no motors. I have been pushing it around for them which is not ideal. I just got an email yesterday though the new controller has been shipped, so I am hoping to be up and running by Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

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