Tank aficionado [Daniel Zalega] has enjoyed playing around with armored fighting vehicles in the digital realm for years, but only recently realized he had the technology and skills necessary to take his passion into the physical world. Albeit on a slightly reduced scale. So he bought a 1:35 plastic model kit for the German WWII Panther tank from Tamiya, and started working on a way to make it move.
Luckily for [Daniel], the assembled model is essentially hollow. That gave him plenty of room to install the geared drive motors, batteries, motor controllers, voltage regulators, a servo for the turret, and the Raspberry Pi Zero that controls the whole show. Those with an aversion to hot glue would do well not to look too closely at the construction here, but it gets the job done. Besides, it’s not like this little Panther is going to see any front line combat.
Another element of the model kit that made it well-suited to motorization is the fact that it had real rubber treads. That meant [Daniel] just had to pop some holes in the side of the tank, and figure out how to mount the drive sprockets to his gear motors. Unfortunately it looks like the wheels are static on this model, meaning the tread has to be dragged over them. That’s certainly robbing the tank of some power and speed, but in the video after the break, you can see its movement is still fairly realistic.
To control the tank, he points his phone’s browser to a simple page running on the Raspberry Pi. By simply dragging a finger on the screen, you can operate the tank’s two independent treads and rotate the turret. [Daniel] said his original plan was more elaborate, with the web page displaying a live video feed from an onboard camera as well as the readings from various sensors. But at least for now, things are kept as straightforward as possible.
Over the last several months, [Eric Strebel] has been working on a concept for an electric-powered infantry combat vehicle. We don’t think he’s been contracted by any nation’s military to design this vehicle, but as a product designer we imagine he does this sort of thing to keep himself sharp. In any event, it’s been fun to watch from the sidelines.
In the latest installment in this series of videos, [Eric] turns his earlier concept art into a functional prototype; albeit at somewhat reduced scale. Still, building any kind of vehicle from the ground up is no easy feat and it’s fascinating to watch the process.
The futuristic faceted look of the vehicle’s armor plate makes for an exceptionally time-consuming build, as he has to cut and glue each piece of foam core into place. Some of the smaller pieces seem to have the tell-tale char marks from a trip through the laser cutter, but in the video after the break you can see that the larger panels are hand cut with a razor.
The plan was originally to just make a static mock-up of the vehicle, but thanks to a pair of remote controlled trucks that [Eric] found at this local Big Box retailer, this foam fighter ended up getting an upgrade. After liberating the motors and gearboxes from the two trucks, he 3D printed axle extensions to take into account the wider track of his vehicle, and built his “tub” around it. While the R/C gear is clearly on the low end of the spectrum, the overall effect looks great as the vehicle is bounding around the yard.
Radio controlled models are great fun. Most of us have had a few RC cars as children and maybe dabbled with the occasional helicopter or drone. It’s a rare breed of modeler, however, that gets to drive a radio-controlled bridge laying tank.
The model is a replica of the British Centurion Bridgelayer – a modified tank designed to allow mechanized units to readily cross rivers and similar obstacles in European battlefields. While the genuine article relied on hydraulics, the RC version takes a different tack. [hawkeye3guns] built custom linear actuators out of motors, gears, and brass to deploy the bridge.
The build shows other smart techniques of the enterprising modeler. Rather than start from scratch, the Centurion is built on a modified KV tank hull. After the modifications were complete, the tank received a lick of paint in the requisite British Army green. The final result is rather impressive.
What’s more fun, driving RC cars around on rugged terrain, or having a paintball battle? How about doing both at the same time by making an RC controlled, paintball firing tank? [Nate] from the King of Random YouTube channel did just that by mounting a modified paintball gun to a stripped-down RC car, adding an RC trigger to remotely fire the gun, and covering it all in EVA foam armor in the shape of a tank. And then he did it again so that he’d have someone to battle against.
He walks through the full build in the first video below, but here are some things that stood out for us. It took some fiddling to get a servo to pull the gun trigger but how could he remotely control the servo? For that, he took over the car’s RC receiver signal for controlling audio and made it turn on and off the servo instead. We also like his use of aluminum bar. This stuff is available in the hardware section at stores like Home Depot and is easy to cut and bend. You can see it used here for mounting Wimshurst machine parts to a bicycle, and in this hack, [Nate] used it to mount the paintball gun rigidly to the car frame. He did surprise us when he used rivets instead of nuts and bolts to hold the frame together. That’s not something you see often, and it worked great.
As we said, he made two of them. In the second video below, watch the tanks in action as [Nate] and fellow YouTuber [Stuart Edge] have a tank battle in the desert.
[Vincent] plays around with remote control tanks, and even though his current model is a WWII-era armor piece, he’d still like modern accoutrements such as a fire control computer and laser sighting for his main gun. His latest project did just that (French, Google translation) with the help of an Arduino, a few modifications to the receiver, and an IR rangefinder.
The stock RC tank includes servos to move the turret and the requisite electronics to fire an Airsoft gun. The precision of the mechanical movements inside the turret weren’t very precise, though, so [Vincent] had to gear down the servos to turn large movements into slight adjustments. After that, he installed an IR rangefinder and laser diode onto the barrel that allowed the gun to sight a target and read its distance.
After some experimentation with the rangefinder and laser, [Vincent] plotted data from firing a few BBs at a whole bunch of distances and targets. The graph came out fairly linear, and after plugging this into a graphing calculator, he was able to find an equation that took into account the distance and angle so the Arduino-powered fire control computer would hit its mark.
The accuracy of the gun is very impressive, all things considered. [Vincent] is able to accurately fire BBs downrange and hit an 8×12 cm target at five meters. You can check out that action below.