Homemade tank joins the battle in Syria


What does a hacker do when going into battle for the freedom of their country? He builds a tank from scratch, of course. It’s a little bit of a stretch calling it a tank as it lacks treads. But it’s got a high-caliber gun mounted on top and has been heavily armored.

There is room enough inside for two people. What may look low tech in this picture is a different story from the cockpit. A pair of LCD monitors display images from five different cameras. You can see the shrouds that protect three of them on the front of the vehicle with a fourth acting as the rear view. A fifth camera mounted on the gun gives the passenger a look at where he’s aiming. A PS1 controller can rotate it and we assume has a fire feature as well. Check out the demonstration video embedded after the break.

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Tank tread robot build aims for a smooth ride

There’s all kinds of interesting things going into this tank robot build, but that beautiful suspension system immediately caught our eye. It helps to protect the body of the robot from being shaken apart when traveling over rough surfaces. Make sure to check out the four parts of the build log which are found on the left sidebar at the post linked above.

This a Master’s thesis project and has been built from common parts. The motors for the treads are pulled from a pair of cordless drills, with some capacitors added to help combat the draw when they start up. The treads themselves are each made from a pair of bicycle chains connected with numerous PVC pipe segments. The curved section of each PVC piece goes toward the chain, leaving the edges toward the ground for great traction. The tree wheels which support the middle of the tread each have a hinge and spring to absorb the shock of running full speed into concrete sidewalk corners like we see in the video after the break.

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200 pound, WiFi deploying robot ran over my foot

[Adam Bercu] and [Dan Landers] from Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, MA brought a very, very cool toy to Maker Faire this year. It’s a two hundred pound WiFi repeater deploying robot able to amble across unforgiving terrain and my foot.

The robot is controlled through a web interface with the help of a front-mounted web cam with pan and tilt controls. All the signals are sent through a WiFi connection to a node.js web server; not the best way to communicate with a robot over long distances, but [Adam] and [Dan] have a few tricks up their sleeve.

On the back of the robot are two Pelican cases loaded up with a battery and a Linksys WRT54G wireless router. When the robot reaches the limits of its range, it activates a solenoid, dropping a WiFi repeater. This repeater has enough battery juice to stay powered for about a day and a half, meaning the robot can make multiple trips to deploy a wireless network through some very hostile terrain. Perfect for disaster and search and rescue operations.

There are two videos after the break: the first is [Dan] going over the capabilities of his tank bot and the second is a short demo of the bot tearing up the grass at Maker Faire.

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Tank router defends your pets?

The guys over at Section9 Hackerspace in Springfield, Missouri just finished building this treaded robot. Despite the juxtaposition of the cat, it really doesn’t defend anything. The project is a reconnaissance robot controlled over the network with video feedback.

The team started off with some lofty goals. They wanted to the robot to be able to climb stairs and to feature a detachable flying portion in order to get a better look at hard to reach places. Cost and complexity are cited as the reasons they ditched the idea of the flyer. The rest of the features came out much as planned. The motor controller for the treads is connected to an Arduino. This uses an Ethernet shield to connect to the WRT54G router which is also coming along for the ride. This seems a bit over-powered but it makes it easy to connect the webcam on the front (also via Ethernet).

On the software side they wrote an Android app. It controls the movement of the robot, as well as that of the camera. Of course you need to see where you’re going so they went the extra mile to include video from the webcam. Check out their show-and-tell video after the break.

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Redesigning the RC tank

[Vincent] started building this tank (translation) with a regular hobby model: the Heng Long Tiger 1. However, after considering some goals for the project, he decided to nearly gut the tank and redesign it, basing it on the Arduino and a standard Motor Shield. The possibilities with this setup are nearly endless. In its current form, the ArduTiger detects obstacles in front of it by way of three servo-mounted infrared rangefinders. The tank’s trajectory can be adjusted automatically based on feedback from the servo positions. Two additional short-range rangefinders detect if there is ground for the tank to roll over, keeping it safe from cliffs and black holes.  [Vincent] plans on updating this beast by adding a Raspberry Pi for live video and advanced control… and maybe even adding a Geiger counter!

Raspberry Pi controlled tank goes deeper than you might think

This remote control tank now takes its orders from a Raspberry Pi board. Well, actually it’s taking orders from commands pushed to the RPi board via SSH. The control scheme works out quite well. Using a low-profile WiFi dongle the RPi automatically connects to the wireless network when it is powered on. This makes it a snap to SSH into the device, and a more user-friendly controller will put a nice front-end into play at some time in the future.

But the real meat and potatoes of the hack comes in getting the RPi to talk to the tank’s circuitry. Just getting the Heng Long Tiger I remote control tank apart proved to be a ton of work as the treads need to be removed to do so and there’s a lot of screws holding it together. Instead of just replacing all of the control circuitry [Ian] wanted to patch into the original controller. To do so he spent a bit of time analyzing the signals with an oscilloscope and discovered that commands were coming in a Manchester encoded format. He established what various packets were doing, used a transistor to protect the GPIO pin on his board, and now has full control of the Tank. The final part of the hardware alteration was to power the RPi from the Tank’s battery.

After the break you can catch a demo of the reassembled tank sporting its new wireless controller.

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Snake-like robot can roll around in a ring

A lot of 3D printing and a many servo motors went into this snake-like robot, and it’s only about half of what [Toby Baumgartner] plans to accomplish. In this orientation the snake is rolled into a circle, and apparently some special movements in the segments allow it to roll around like this. He compares it to a tank tread without the tank attached to it. Notice that each link is rounded on the outside. When the snake opens itself up, the toothed inside of the links contacts the ground for added traction.

It looks like eventually the larger link at the bottom will be about three times as wide. This will make room for him to mount a second ring of links. The idea is that the larger link will act as the body and this can unfold itself into a quaruped. Motors that allow the segments to pivot side to side would make it something like a four-legged spider bot.