[Angus] at Maker’s Muse recently created a new and tiny antweight combat robot (video, embedded below) and it has some wonderfully clever design elements we’d like to highlight. In particular: how to keep a tracked robot’s wheel belt where it belongs, and prevent it from slipping or becoming dislodged. In a way, this problem was elegantly solved during the era of the steam engine and industrial revolution. The solution? A crowned pulley.
A crowned pulley is a way of automatically keeping a flat belt centered by having a slight hump in the center of the pulley, which tapers off on either side. Back when steam engines ran everything, spinning axles along the ceiling transferred their power to machinery on the shop floor via flat belts on pulleys. Crowned pulleys kept those flat belts centered without any need for rims or similar additions.
The reason this worked so well for [Angus]’s robot is partly its simplicity, and partly the fact that it works fantastically with the silicone wrist bracelets he uses as treads. These bracelets are like thick rubber bands, and make excellent wheel substitutes. They have great grip, are cheap and plentiful, and work beautifully with crowned pulleys as the hubs. It’s a great solution for a tiny robot, and you can how it self-centers in the image here.
Antweight robots are limited to 150 grams which means every bit counts, and that constraint leads to some pretty inventive design choices. For example, [Angus]’s new robot also has a clever lifter mechanism that uses a 4-bar linkage designed to lever opponents up using only a single motor for power. Watch [Angus] explain and demonstrate everything in his usual concise and clear manner in the video, embedded below.
Inspired by battle-hardened military robots, [Engineering Juice] wanted to build his own remote controlled rover that could deliver live video from the front lines. But rather than use an off-the-shelf tracked robot chassis, he decided to design and 3D print the whole thing from scratch. While the final product might not be bullet proof, it certainly doesn’t seem to have any trouble traveling through sand and other rough terrain.
Certainly the most impressive aspect of this project is the roller chain track and suspension system, which consists of more than 200 individual printed parts, fasteners, bearings, and linkages. Initially, [Engineering Juice] came up with a less complex suspension system for the robot, but unfortunately it had a tendency to bind up during testing. However the new and improved design, which uses four articulated wheels on each side, provides an impressive balance between speed and off-road capability.
Internally there’s a Raspberry Pi 4 paired with an L298 dual H-bridge controller board to drive the heavy duty gear motors. While the Pi is running off of a standard USB power bank, the drive motors are supplied by a custom 18650 battery pack utilizing a 3D printed frame to protect and secure the cells. A commercial night vision camera solution that connects to the Pi’s CSI header is mounted in the front, with live video being broadcast back to the operator over WiFi.
Commercially available radio control tanks are fun and all, but sometimes you’ve just got to build your own. [Let’s Print] did just that, whipping up a tank on his 3D printer before taking it out in the snow.
The tank is a fairly straightforward build, relying on a pair of brushed motors for propulsion, controlled by twin speed controllers hooked up to standard radio control hardware. Everything else is bespoke, however, from the 3D printed gearboxes, to the chassis and the rather aggressive-looking tracks. The pointed teeth of the latter leave deep indentations when the tank cruises around on mud, though weren’t quite enough to stop the little tank from getting high-centered in deep snow.
The build isn’t for the impatient, however. [Let’s Print] notes that the tracks alone took over 80 hours to run off in PETG, let alone the rest of the frame and gearboxes. However, we’re sure it was a great learning experience, and great fun to drive outside. Now the next step is surely to go bigger. Video after the break.
When we first looked at this tank, we thought it was pretty cool. The sides are unpainted 1/2″ (12mm) plywood, so it is not flashy. The dimensions came from Google-fu-ing the heck out of the WWII Hetzer and scaling them to 1:6. What knocks our socks off is how much [Bret Tallent] made use of parts you would find in a hardware store or bicycle shop. He uses twin motors from electric bikes, and the wheels look like replacement shopping cart wheels. The best part is the treads, which are dozens of hinges fastened with pairs of bolts and nylon-insert nuts. Something is reassuring about knowing that a repair to your baby is no further than a bike ride.
We don’t know what started [Bret] on his path to sidewalk superiority, but we suspect he is cooped up like the rest of us and looking to express himself. Mini-Hetzer is not licensed by Power Wheels and never will be, so it probably won’t turn into a business anytime soon. There is a complete gallery starting with an empty plywood base, and the pictures tell the story of how this yard Jäger got to this point. There are plans to add a paintball gun and streaming video, so we’d advise that you don’t mess with the jack-o-lanterns on his block this year. Give his gallery a view and see if you don’t become inspired to cobble something clever from the hardware store too. Then, tell us about it.
3D printing is well-suited to cranking out tank tread designs, because the numerous and identical segments required are a great fit for 3D printing’s strengths. The only hitch is the need for fasteners between each of those segments, but [AlwynxJones] has a clever solution that uses plentiful hard plastic spheres (in the form of 6 mm airsoft BBs) as both a fastener and a hinge between each of the 3D printed track segments.
Each segment has hollows made to snugly fit 6 mm BBs (shown as green in the image here) which serve both as fasteners and bearing surfaces. Assembly requires a bit of force to snap everything together, but [AlwynxJones] judges the result worth not having to bother with bolts, wires, or other makeshift fasteners.
Bolts or screws are one option for connecting segments, but those are heavy and can get expensive. Segments of printer filament have been successfully used in other tread designs, though that method requires added work in the form of either pins, or heat deforming the filament ends to form a kind of rivet. This design may be a work in progress, but it seems like a promising and clever approach.
Tracked drive systems are great, but implementation isn’t always easy. That’s what [nahueltaibo] found every time he tried to use open sourced track designs for his own rovers. The problem is that a tracked drive system is normally closely integrated with a vehicle’s chassis, mixing and matching between designs is impractical because the tracks and treads aren’t easily separated from the rest of the vehicle.
To solve this, [nahueltaibo] designed a modular, 3D printable rover track system. It contains both a motor driver and a common DC gearmotor in order to make a standalone unit that can be more easily integrated into other designs. These self-contained rover tracks don’t even have a particular “inside” or “outside”; they can be mounted on a vehicle’s left or right without any need to mirror the design. The original CAD design is shared from Fusion 360, but can also be downloaded from Thingiverse. A bit more detail is available from [nahueltaibo]’s blog, where he urges anyone who tries the design or finds it useful to share a photo or two.
3D printed tank tracks — including this one — often use a piece of filament as a hinge between track segments and sometimes slightly melted on the ends to act as a kind of rivet, which is itself a pretty good hack.
Surely our readers are well aware of all the downsides of owning an airplane. Certainly the cost of fuel is a big one. Birds are a problem, probably. That bill from the traveling propeller sharpener is a killer too…right? Alright fine, we admit it, nobody here at Hackaday owns an airplane. But probably neither do most of you; so don’t look so smug, pal.
But if you did own a plane, or at least work at a small airport, you’d know that moving the things around on the ground is kind of a hassle. Smaller planes can be pulled by hand, but once they get up to a certain size you’ll want some kind of vehicle to help out. [Anthony DiPilato] wanted a way to move around a roughly 5,200 pound Cessna 310, and decided that all the commercial options were too expensive. So he built his own Arduino powered tank to muscle the airplane around the tarmac (if site is down try Google cache), and his journey from idea to finished product is absolutely fascinating to see.
So the idea here is pretty simple. A little metal cart equipped with two beefy motors, an Arduino Mega, a pair of motor controllers, and a HC-08 Bluetooth module so you can control it from your phone. How hard could it be, right? Well, it turns out combining all those raw components into a little machine that’s strong enough to tow a full-scale aircraft takes some trial and error.
It took [Anthony] five iterations before he fine tuned the design to the point it was able to successfully drag the Cessna without crippling under the pressure. The early versions featured wheels, but eventually it was decided that a tracked vehicle would be required to get enough grip on the blacktop. Luckily for us, each failed design is shown along with a brief explanation about what went wrong. Admittedly it’s unlikely any of us will be recreating this particular project, but we always love to see when somebody goes through the trouble of explaining what went wrong. When you include that kind of information, somewhere, somehow, you’re saving another maker a bit of time and aggravation.