Four Letters Re: A Tactical Hack for R.C. Model Cars

[Regarding Hawaiian K’s letter]: Just want to offer a caution to anyone who might experiment with a firearm mounted on a radio controlled vehicle of any type: While modern Radio Controlled (RC) stuff is generally very reliable, there are many scenarios in which a partial failure of batteries, transmitter, receiver, servo, radio interference, unintentional collision with an object, or simple human error could cause the mounted firearm to discharge unintentionally. If any of your readers intends to experiment with such a setup, I hope it will be under very tightly controlled circumstances. Regards, – Rich S.


The BATFE would consider the contraption described a machine gun if it is capable of firing multiple rounds at the press of one button on the laptop. If you are not law enforcement or military or a Class 3 dealer manufacturing a sample you can not legally manufacture/register one and you are opening yourself to a 12 year mandatory sentence for every single count (the BATFE will probably charge you with one count for every RC car, servo and firearm you have since they are components of the illegal device).

If you have a design that uses only a single shot fire arm you can submit it to the BATFE for approval as a gadget gun or “Any Other Weapon” (AOW) [catch-all Federal firearms category]–think briefcase guns, wallet guns, cane guns, et cetera. Once approved you follow the normal Class 3 toy transfer procedures.

There are many companies who have done a lot of research and development on this for SWAT teams, hostage negotiation robots, bomb defusing robots etc. Many are armed with water cannons, shotguns and in some cases pistols.

It may be legal to mount a 37mm tear gas launcher loaded with CS or CN rounds and greet the unwelcome visitors without filing out any paperwork. Check your local and state laws. Always check regulations, with the BATFE and a knowledgeable gunsmith before attempting to construct anything. [JWR Adds: Advice from the BATFE Firearms Branch or field offices is not legally binding. If they give you any guidance, be sure to ask for it in writing.]
How prepared would you and your family be for TEOTWAWKI sitting in a jail cell with $80,000+ in legal bills, and reduced income (while you are in jail)? – Steveninpa



Hawaiian K’s short article on Tactical Hacks of his friend brought to mind some of the ingenious adaptations of common items our troops in Iraq have come up with to help keep the troopers safe. A friend of our family was in Iraq awhile back emailed a video to his dad. As we watched the video it was amazing to see and hear the members of his squad work through a situation that just screamed IED. There was a donkey cart and a nearby donkey just standing on a dirt road. The soldiers had correctly recognized the threat potential and wasn’t going to approach the cart and donkey but still had to figure a way to neutralize the threat. One of the members pulled out of a Humvee a remote controlled toy race car his parents sent for amusement when off duty. In true American Ingenuity fashion he removed the race car body, taped a brick of C4 complete with detonator and a very l-o-n-g fuse and proceeded to maneuver the toy car over the rocky and rutted dirt road and parked it under the cart. When the charge went off they got the secondary explosion they expected. Before approaching the debris they waited a long while for another charge to go off. The insurgents would have heard the first explosion and would wait to set off another IED when they considered time enough had passed for rescuers to arrive to help those caught in the initial blast. With no additional explosions a bomb disposal team carefully went down to what was left of the donkey cart. There they found two artillery shells buried on the side of the road. They couldn’t be detonated because the exploding toy car was at ground level and had severed the wiring leading to the artillery shells.

Oh, by the way, the donkey was okay because when the toy car came toward the cart the donkey shied away from the approaching modified toy because the donkey hadn’t been harnessed; it just appeared to be so. One of the solders said in a chuckle, “That donkey is mad, he just lost his lunch.” Ah, the ingenuity of the American soldier. The cost of off the shelf electronics is dropping as the quality goes up. Already remote controlled helicopters and planes with low light or zero lux light cameras are available or can be cobbled together quite effectively. The technology genie is out of the bottle and as much as some politicians would like to limit certain technologies access to the general public; the genie can not be stuffed back into the bottle of government control and exclusivity. Live well, The Rabid One

Just wanted to give you a heads up that this idea is probably not something you want showing up on google searches with your name attached to it. This is a terrible idea for all but the most skilled of individuals to attempt. I use RC equipment for remotely operating tests for work, and damn near everything can cause noise in their frequency range. As well, many of the systems can be very buggy and suddenly a servo you didn’t intend to move is just going off on its own. The necessary safety interlocks required to safely fire a gun remotely is significant. Mounting a camera and a gun to an RC truck is quite simple though, which will likely lead to terrible accidents that I would hate to see coming back to haunt one of my favorite sites. Please don’t post this letter to your blog, though you are welcome to summarize as you see fit (though I would just remove the article if it was me).
Keep up the great work! – Jeff S.