Tiny Tank Inspects Your Crawlspace

If you’ve got some drone or FPV part lying around, this is the build for you. It’s a remote controlled tank, with a camera and video transmitter, that’s only 65 mm x 40 mm x 30 mm in size. Why on Earth would you ever build something so small? You can look around in your crawlspace, I guess. Any way you look at, this thing is tiny.

The tank has traditional tank skid steering through two brushless motors. The battery is one cell, as that’s just about the largest battery you can put in a vehicle so small, and the camera is just off-the-shelf quadcopter stuff set into a 3D printed enclosure. There are a few LEDs for lights. Other than that, it’s just so tiny and so cute.

The builder behind this tank, [honnnest], put up a video going through the build and demonstrating what kind of video you can expect from a tank this small. It’s a bit fast for a tank, and that’s not even considering the scale effects, but if the chassis is 3D printed, you can always print a few reduction gears, too.

29 thoughts on “Tiny Tank Inspects Your Crawlspace

    1. They do make large novelty lighters, I see them from time to time at gas stations or other places that sell cigarettes, usually displayed alongside the “regular” sized ones!

    1. Seriously, who could have guessed that reviewing mouse traps would make for such interesting content? I’d say his channel is the one I find myself the most surprised to be subscribed to, but I can’t seem to get enough of that Townsends 18th century cooking/lifestyle so…

  1. Some years ago we were machining pipe crawlers hulls(and covers) from brick sized pieces of brass.
    About 80% of materiel was going to swarf bin, over ninenty if we used round stock – but only first few were like that(plus prototype made of stainless steel…).

  2. I can crawl in my crawl space. What this would be lovely for is fitting in the space between the ceiling of downstairs and the floor of upstairs, so I can figure out where some plumbing and gas lines go without cutting holes in the ceiling, or pulling a thread through so I can pull new wiring into underfloor spaces. What a wonderful build!

    1. A normal borescope does not work for this purpose? There are extremely cheap versions (8$) from China, of course the resolution and quality is not really good, but it should be enough to locate pipework etc.

  3. I could see your electrical.
    Not very good. Wires are not to be lose like that, Unless it was a rewire.
    I think that most states would have code smellier to that.
    BUT as far as your little friend I love it.
    I will have to look at building one for my self to add to my robots.
    Very Very nice job.

    1. Never ever have I heard that. CEC only requires that wire be supported every x meters. Laying there like that is supported. I can’t see a real good reason other than neatness either. A Reno is also the only way I could see them ending up like that. You’d never leave wires hanging down in a new job for fear that whoever was boarding things would pinch your wires and maybe cause a short or fire.

      That said any inspector I know who saw that would immediately start looking hard for the code violations you definitely did.

      1. I dunno, depends on your regional governmental ‘interpretation’ of CEC. And the ESA changes its mind every other year about important stuff.

        For Kanadians – reference code sections 2 and 12
        For Amerikans – reference code article 300

        For hack-a-dayers, reference the appropriate Bugs Bunny cartoon.

  4. Reminds of those micro RC tanks sold ages ago (early 2K) at thinkgeek. IIRC those had also IR emitters and sensors on turrets so that they could fight each other. If memory serves, they were in fact sold as office warfare weapons:)
    If this one was for sale I would seriously consider buying at least one to entertain my cats.

  5. If that had some weight to it and perhaps an electromagnet ou could remotely energize it would be great for pulling strong nylon string through a crawlspace. I would tie a washer or something on the end of the string and actuate the electromagnet when it was next to it. The reason for the electromagnet is if the string gets snarled on something, the little tank can easily release it and new piece can be threaded through and tried again. Sadly I think it would need to be big enough to space 16′ framing to be really useful. I knew one electrician that had this wicked skinny guy who would shimmy through places you would think a human could not fit. He would take a couple pieces of thin paneling with him to put down to slide on. Laying down like that his weight was distributed enough that it felt pretty solid to him. You would never dare try and stand up on it though.

  6. Brian, This article is slightly misleading. The chassis is in fact not 3d printed. It uses the chassis motors and gearboxes of a “happy cow 777-215 rc tank”. Which is clearly mentioned in the project description and obvious from the photos.

  7. Anybody in the know why the Happy Cow Tank (that this project uses for motors and tracks) uses 27MHz instead of 2.4 GHz like this great project? Incidentally all the other micro tanks i could find are in the MHz band as well, even though that makes no sense antenna-wise for such small bodies – Is the MHz ecosystem still so much cheaper?

    1. As i gather 27/49mhz RC is just old-fashioned analog Amplitude Modulated radio signals. Very simple. Very “dumb” communication (PWM). Can be directly modulated into signals for driving simple systems. Is also very much prone to conflicting with others on the same band and without using multiple bands normally one-direction.

      2.4Ghz and you enter more sophisticated systems. That communicate via serial data and speak to each other to identify themselves. A transmitter and receiver would even actively seek an interference free band within the wide 2.4ghz spectrum. Rendering conflicts pretty much non-issue.

      Shouldn’t be hard to imagine that cramming in a base-loaded whip antenna in combination with a basic RC PWM receiver is probably cheaper than integrating a full-on self-configurating 2.4ghz radio module.

  8. Very nice project. However if, as the title implies, the intent is to use it as a form of RC endoscope, my suggestion would be to explore something like ez-wifibroadcast ( https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?2664393-EZ-WifiBroadcast-cheap-digital-HD-transmission-made-easy%21 ). Instead of using low resolution RC FPV hardware (primarily preferred by the FPV racing community for the ultra-low latency that isn’t needed here), it uses high powered Wi-Fi adapters and Raspberry Pis on both ends of the connection with a Raspberry Pi camera on the vehicle for much, much higher resolution video at an only slightly higher latency connection. In many situations (such as the example given of exploring a crawl space) you could probably even replace the Wi-Fi connection with a selectively sourced extra flexible/thin Ethernet cable for an even higher bit-rate video stream and, possibly, a higher powered LED headlight through Power-over-Ethernet (hell, you might even be able to power the RC motors and servos through Power-over-Ethernet too removing the need for batteries).

    Lastly, you may want to explore changing the design of the “tank” to replicate something more similar to a WWI British heavy tank like the Mark I – IX models. Since their treads go all the way around the top of the tank, you should still be able to continue driving if, for example, kitty had actually managed to flip the tank over while swinging at it. Add rounded sides to that basic design, and you should also be able to avoid the possibility of it getting stuck on it’s side too.

  9. I think it is absolutely cool. Our company handles a lot of basements and crawlspaces. This would be perfect, ideal for getting the a job done and knowing what’s in there without having to get down on your hands and knees. Great product. Where do you get one from ?

  10. members from the facebook page “tiny trak” have been using cheap servos modified for continuous rotation, making these even more of a “rc spare parts bin” project :)

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