RC PVC bot

This hunk of PVC pipe is radio controlled. The wheels on the ends provide the locomotion, but it wouldn’t be going anywhere if it weren’t for that little tail strapped to the center of the tube.

When the motors are turning the body of the bot needs something to push against. In this case the tail hits the ground and keeps the chassis from spinning. We have seen attempts to go without a tail by using lopsided wheels to provide angular momentum, but this method is much more reliable.

The control for the bot is scrapped from a toy RC car. Once hooked up to the gearhead motors it’s ready to roll. The real difficulty of the build came in fitting everything into the pipe. A frame was built from a few disks used as mounting platforms which were separated by threaded rod. See it making its way around a gravel road in the clip after the break.

[via Hacked Gadgets]


  1. macegr says:

    Wow the image stabilization is freaky disorienting sometimes.

  2. birdmun says:

    I just wanted to point out a 2 wheeled rover that lacks a tail and still gets around.


    • birdmun says:

      On a completely different note, I have seen a similar vehicle being considered(?) by the US military. It had a camera and a tail so the military personnel could toss it and then remotely control it without having to worry if it landed “right side up”.

  3. Vonskippy says:

    Looks like it’s tail is dragging…

  4. andar_b says:

    I think a little swivel wheel on each end of the tail would make it less likely to tear things up, and reduce wear on the tail as well. A gravel road don’t matter much, but I wouldn’t want to use that on my hardwood floors or vinyl. :p

  5. Hirudinea says:

    I’m really impressed that something so simple works so well.

  6. Harry says:

    you should try in internal weight for stabilization, I was going to make a ball like this, so it could roll itself. free invention there you go

  7. Clare Love says:

    When my mother, now 95 yr old was a child, they used to make a toy “tractor” using a thread spool, rubber-band, a matchstick and soap for lubricant. It moved much like this.

    • Jim says:

      I immediately thought of the same thing! I used to make these as a child too, with a slice from a candle put between the spool and matchstick as the ‘lubricant’. I’m less than half your mother’s age, but the knowledge was handed down from my parents and probably from their parents before. Perhaps I should show my children, but wooden cotton spools, even candles and matches, are not such common place household items now. Time for a modern twist? Toilet roll tube, DVD’s and a pencil perhaps?

  8. on3n3o says:

    I think it’s copy of that robot: http://www.reconrobotics.com/

  9. Tom the Brat says:

    Makes me think of the “tractors” we used to make with a spool, rubberband, nail, matchstick and bit of soap.

    Oh my. Most of you probably weren’t born yet.

  10. crjeea says:

    Use a pen for it’s “tail” and let it run around on a large sheet of paper… I wonder if it could have enough control to draw a picture (maybe at slow speed) (:

  11. NMajik says:

    Strictly speaking, you don’t even need a tail if you use an asymmetric frame. Illinois Tech Robotics’ 150lb robot, Fenrir, uses this principle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0VD0Rs1vyI&feature=player_detailpage#t=11s

  12. Logan says:

    I think you could ditch the tail if you used continuous rotation rc servos. It becomes a matter of telling the mcu to stop moving the left side while turning the right side. You would have to time it so it alternates the breaking action on the left and right sides but it should be doable.

    Still appreciate the cleverness of this design though.

  13. Nathan says:

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