Monday, 16 September 2013

Make your own RC Winch Controller

Want to control you 1/10 scale winch from your 3-channel RC system? Below you can find instructions to build the necessary controller!

First, check out the video to see how to operate the winch:

WARNING: This and other DIY projects are purely "at your own risk". If you are at all uncomfortable or inexperienced working with electronics, please reconsider doing the job yourself.

If you need background information on the winch itself, have a look at this excellent winch information on The only info we could not find there was the power consumption, so we measured it: The stall current was 0.8A at 6V. The winch was able to pull about 1.5kg at 6V. Not exactly much, but still should be able to get you out in most cases.

The winch controller connects to channel 3 of your receiver. Three seconds after you apply power to the controller the winch motor will play a short tune, indicating that it is ready. The sound will only play if a valid input signal has been detected. Note that the sound may be very faint, depending on your winch.

To arm the winch, change the position of the channel 3 switch on your transmitter five times within a short period of times. The winch motor will now play a different tune of rising sounds indicatiting that it is armed. While armed, the winch motor will be braked electrically, so the winch will not drift if you try to pull heavy loads.

To move the winch in one direction, change the position of the channel 3 switch once. To move the winch in the other direction, change the position of the channel 3 switch twice within a short time.

To stop the winch simply toggle the position of the channel 3 switch.

When you are done winching, disarm the winch controller by toggling the channel 3 switch five times. A descending tune will play and all power will be removed from the winch motor. Disarming the winch ensures that accidental bumps on the transmitter do not turn the winch on and potentially damage something.

The winch controller can be powered via the RC receiver, or from a separate supply connected to the pins labeled + an - on the ICSP connector. When external power is used you need to remove the "0R" resistor.

The winch hardware is basically a H-bridge motor driver controlled from a tiny microcontroller. The main components are a Microchip PIC12F1840 micro-controller, two dual N- and P-Channel power FETs Fairchild FDS9934C, and a 3.3V LDO (Microchip MCP1702, 1703 or similar).

The schematics, firmware and a PCB layout are available on Github. Pre-rendered Gerber files for the PCB can be found in the electronics folder. The PCB can be ordered directly from OSHPark in a minimum quantity of three.

A pre-built HEX file for programming the micro-controller is also available on Github.

The winch controller can also be linked up to our DIY RC Light Controller.

If you do build the controller please give us a shout-out! Happy recovery!

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