ESP8266 Powered Tank With Voice Control

The high availability of (relatively) low cost modular components has made building hardware easier than ever. Depending on what you want to do, the hardware side of a project might be the hacker equivalent of building with LEGO. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if it literally involved building with LEGO. In any event, easy and quick hardware builds leave more time for developing creative software to run the show. The end result is that we’re starting to see very complex systems broken down into easy-to-replicate DIY builds that would have been nearly impossible just a few years ago.

[igorfonseca83] writes in to share with us his modular tank platform that uses the ESP8266 and a handful of software hacks to allow for voice control from the user’s mobile device. Presented as a step-by-step guide on, this project is perfect for getting started in Internet-controlled robotics. Whether you just want to experiment with Google Assistant integration or use this as a blank slate to bootstrap a remotely controlled rover, this project has a lot to offer.

The chassis itself is a commercially available kit, and [igorfonseca83] uses a L298N dual channel H-bridge module to control its two geared motors. A Wemos D1 serves as the brains of the operation, and three 18650 3.7V batteries provide the juice to keep everything running. There’s plenty of expansion capability to add sensors and other gear, but for this project getting it rolling was the only concern.

Software wise, there are a number of pieces that work together to provide the Google Assistant control demonstrated in the video after the break. It starts by interfacing the ESP8266 board Adafruit.IO, which connects to IFTTT, and then finally Google Assistant. By setting up a few two variable phrases in IFTTT that get triggered by voice commands in Google Assistant, you can push commands back down to the ESP8266 through Adafruit.IO. It’s a somewhat convoluted setup, admittedly, but the fact that involves very little programming makes it an interesting solution for anyone who doesn’t want to get bogged down with all the minutiae of developing your own Internet control stack.

[igorfonseca83] is no stranger to building remotely controlled rovers. Last year we covered another of his creations which was commanded through a web browser and carried an Android phone to stream video of its adventures.

5 thoughts on “ESP8266 Powered Tank With Voice Control

  1. Have you tried Lego Boost? It’s a simpler (and much cheaper!) version of Mindstorms that’s aimed at younger kids and is all driven by a scratch-like system on a tablet computer. My 9yo lad loves it.

  2. sometimes, you just gotta nut up and admit “this mindstorms set is for me!” and proudly march in there with a couple weekends’ worth of denied beer and social activity money, and do it whether the kids like it or not! (why yes there is an Apollo kit built and displayed on my coffee table, and the motorized pneumatic crane on the shelf, and really, the Millenium Falcon (small one) is my wifes honest!)

    1. “and proudly march in there with a couple weekends’ worth of denied beer and social activity…”
      That is not so much a problem with me (sadly).

      If I did buy a Mindstorms/Boost, said daughter just might glom onto it, or at least take all the non-electric pieces!
      But, yeah, I like your thinking!

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