Build Instructions

Thinking about building an autonomous 1/10 scale vehicle? RACECAR/J is derived from the MIT RACECAR, an “open-source powerful platform for robotics research and education”. We have assembly guides, software installation tutorials and as time goes on the library of information will continue to grow. On this page, we have links to the various articles about RACECAR/J gathered into one convenient spot. Here at the RACECAR/J Store you can buy complete kits and parts to build your own RACECAR/J (Currently shipping to the USA only). There are currently two different configurations available. The first configuration is built around the MIT RACECAR 2.5 specification. The second configuration is oriented towards people who want to experiment with different sensor configurations. Here is a list of articles about constructing RACECAR/J:

Hardware Assembly

  • RACECAR/J Chassis Preparation
    • This is the first assembly article, in which we prepare a Traxxas Slash 4x4 by upgrading the springs, adding a new front bumper, and removing some parts not in use on RACECAR/J.
  • RACECAR/J Platform Preparation
    • In the second assembly article, we build up the Platform Decks which are the main mechanical structure for the autonomy sled. The Platform Decks hold the computer, sensors, electronic speed controller and USB hub. In the article, we prepare the deck and attach the USB hub and electronic speed controller. (Note: We now use a VESC 6 Plus, see the next topic) Once complete we mate the Platform Decks to the Traxxas chassis.
  • Install VESC 6 Plus on RACECAR/J
    • On the new RACECAR/J, we use the VESC 6 Plus. The installation is the same as in the Platform Preparation topic above, but a couple of the details are different. 
  • RACECAR/J Initial Assembly
    • In the third assembly article, we mount the IMU to the Platform Deck along with a NVIDIA Jetson Development Kit. We then connect the motor to the electronic speed controller, along with the steering servo wire.
  • RACECAR/J Hokuyo UST-10LX Lidar
    • If you are building a MIT RACECAR specification robot, you may find this article useful. Here we go over adding a power connector to the Hokuyo UST-10LX, installing the Hokuyo onto the RACECAR/J Platform Deck, and wiring the Hokuyo to the electronics battery. After assembly, we test against the MIT RACECAR software stack.
  • RACECAR/J FlatNose Platform Part 1
    • If you want a different configuration than the MIT Specification Platforms, you can use the RACECAR/J FlatNose Platforms. In this assembly article, we build up the autonomy sled which holds the Jetson computer, sensors, electronic speed controller and USB Hub.
  • RACECAR/J FlatNose Platform Part 2
    • In this assembly article, we mount the IMU to the FlatNose Platform Deck along with a NVIDIA Jetson Development Kit. We then connect the motor to the electronic speed controller, along with the steering servo wire. This is for the RACECAR/J FlatNose version.
  • RPLidar A2 - NVIDIA Jetson Development Kits
    • One of the more popular 2D lidars currently available, the Slamtec RPLidar A2, can easily be used with RACECAR/J. This article covers how to get started.
  • DIY Antenna Mount
    • 3D print files and instructions for making your own antenna mount for your RACECAR/J. 

    Software Installation

    • RACECAR/J Software Install
      • In this article, we cover installation of the software stack which runs RACECAR/J. This includes installation of drivers, udev rules, Robot Operating System (ROS), the MIT RACECAR ROS packages, and environment configuration.
    • RACECAR/J - Programming the Electronic Speed Controller
      • The VESC 6 Plus in the RACECAR/J kit comes programmed from the factory. However, if you need to reprogram or configure the VESC, this is a useful article.
    • RACECAR/J - Programming the Electronic Speed Controller - VESC 4.X
      • This article is for earlier versions of the VESC. RACECAR/J uses an open source electronic speed controller, called a VESC, to interface the Jetson with the motor and steering. This article goes over programming the VESC to match the RACECAR/J characteristics.


    • Scanse Sweep LIDAR Software Install
      • Unfortunately the Scanse Sweep is out of production. We'll keep this link here in memorium.
      • Here we cover installing the software drivers and ROS package for the Scanse Sweep lidar.


    • ROS Teleoperation using Game Controller
      • After completion of the RACECAR/J robot assembly and ROS software installation, it is time to test teleoperation using a game controller.
    • Exploring ROS - RACECAR/J
      • Once RACECAR/J is up and running, this article shows some of the built-in and GUI based tools available to examine the robot's software stack.

    YouTube PlayList


    MIT Summer School RACECAR Lectures


    This list will grow over time. There are currently articles in progress for electronics battery selection and wiring, adding a webcam, and adding an Intel RealSense D435 to the RACECAR. Of course, once we have the hardware running, we will start the programming series. Along with covering special events!