I thought it was good time to revisit trying to control an RC car’s handheld remote, so I returned to the community assistance I first started at and gave it a try. In the end, I just had to wire up some transistors to the remote control as well as a few resistors leading back to the GPIO pins on the Pi.
The software side is fairly straightforward as it implements basic driving functionality and requires only a few Node.js dependencies (the rpio library and an experimental one to handle keyup and keydown events). Running the main script from the github repo sets up four pins as outputs, and are triggered when the arrow keys are pressed. Ctrl+C can be used to exit.
Controlling the car directly would be more efficient, but as far as a proof of concept, doing it indirectly through the remote control works really well. Adding the Camera Module would be a good next step, but even at this point the process has got me thinking that a Pi Zero would be a nice addition to a platform like RC car that you can buy at the store — especially something like this Fast Traxx. Driving it with a keyboard over SSH is such a cool experience.