Rollerskates are all well and good, but they’re even more fun when they’re powered. Then again, why stick with wheels, when you can have the off-road benefits of tracked propulsion? That’s precisely what [Joel] was thinking when he built this impressive set of Tank Boots.
The build uses a set of tracks from a tracked snowblower, sourced for $50. The tracks are a simple design sans suspension, consisting of a pair of plastic wheels inside the tracks and run via a chain drive. Each snowblower track was given a metal frame with a ski boot and a motor, gearbox, and controller straight out of a power drill. Power was courtesy of a lithium-polymer battery pack.
Riding the boots isn’t easy, with falls and tumbles rather common. Regardless, they get around great offroad in a way that regular rollerblades never could. Bolted together, they make a great tank chair, too. We’ve actually looked at the benefits of tracks versus wheels before, too. Video after the break.
One of the few positives to come of this pandemic is that the restrictive nature of scarcity can be a boon to creativity. Plus, the doom and gloom of it all is causing people to loosen up and do things they never felt free enough to do before in the demanding world of the before times.
For example, [ossum] makes R/C vehicles on commission to exacting standards, but took a break from perfection to build this remote control hellscape-faring van by the seat of his pants. It’s quite a resourceful build that combines pieces from previous projects with a few standard R/C parts and a handful of clever hacks.
The body is a test print of a 1957 Chevy Suburban van that [ossum] made for someone a few years back. It’s mounted on a scrap metal chassis and moves on printed tank treads designed for a different vehicle.
Since glass is a liability in an apocalypse (and because [ossum] doesn’t have a resin printer yet), the windows have fortified coverings that are printed, patina’d, and detailed with tiny rivet heads.
As far as hacks go, our favorite has to be the clothespin steering. [ossum] only had one electronic speed controller, so he used a servo to actuate a pair of spring-loaded clips, alternating between the two to move the tank-van. There’s a short video after the break that shows the rack and clothes-pinion steering, and it’s loaded up right after a brief demo of the van.
Part of [Gelstronic]’s house has a glass roof. While he enjoys the natural light and warmth, he doesn’t like getting up on a ladder to clean it every time a bird makes a deposit or the rainwater stains build up. He’s tried to make a cleaning robot in the past, but the 25% slope of the roof complicates things a bit. Now, with the addition of stepper motors and grippy tank treads, [Gelstronic] can tell this version of GRawler exactly how far to go, or to stay in one place to clean a spot that’s extra dirty.
GRawler is designed to clean on its way up the roof, and squeegee on the way back down. It’s driven by an Arduino Pro Micro and built from lightweight aluminium and many parts printed in PLA. GRawler also uses commonly-available things, which is always a bonus: the brush is the kind used to clean behind appliances, and the squeegee blade is from a truck-sized wiper. [Gelstronic] can control GRawler’s motors, the brush’s spin, and raise/lower the wiper blade over Bluetooth using an app called Joystick BT Commander. Squeak past the break to see it in action.
As far as we can tell, [Gelstronic] will still have to break out the ladder to place GRawler and move him between panels. Maybe the next version could be tethered, like Scrobby the solar panel-cleaning robot.
[Ivan] has been keeping his 3D printers busy with parts he’s experimenting with to build a tracked motion setup for a tank-like vehicle. His design uses several interlocking parts, so if you want to duplicate it, we hope your printer calibration is up to snuff. He’s still printing more parts and promises to release the files once the design proves out.
However, you can see he’s off to a good start. Small pieces fit together and accept a piece of filament as a sort of hinge. Some pins keep the filament from working out. Pads fit into the main parts and hold down with zip ties. The whole flexible tread locks into sprockets and a groove on a drive wheel.
[Dickel] always liked tracked vehicles. Taking inspiration from the ‘Peacemaker’ tracked vehicle in Mad Max: Fury Road, he replicated it as the Mad Mech. The vehicle is remote-controlled and the tank treads are partly from a VEX robotics tank tread kit. Control is via a DIY wireless controller using an Arduino and NRF24L01 modules. The vehicle itself uses an Arduino UNO with an L298N motor driver. Power is from three Li-Po cells.
The real artistic work is in the body. [Dickel] used a papercraft tool called Pepakura (non-free software, but this Blender plugin is an alternative free approach) for the design to make the body out of thin cardboard. The cardboard design was then modified to make it match the body of the Peacemaker as much as possible. It was coated in fiberglass for strength, then the rest of the work was done with body filler and sanding for a smooth finish. After a few more details and a good paint job, it was ready to roll.
There’s a lot of great effort that went into this build, and [Dickel] shows his work and process on his project page and in the videos embedded below. The first video shows the finished Mad Mech being taken for some test drives. The second is a montage showing key parts of the build process.
Don’t let the knee-high size of [Hrastovc]’s creation fool you. TrackRobot weighs in at a monstrous 60 kg (130 lbs) of steel, motors, and battery. It sports two 48V motors in a body and frame made from pieces of finger-jointed sheet steel, and can reach speeds of up to four meters per second with a runtime of up to an hour. The project’s link has more pictures as well as DXF files of the pieces used for the body.
Currently TrackRobot is remote-controlled, but one goal is to turn it into a semi-autonomous snow plow. You can see TrackRobot going through its first steps as well as testing out a plow prototype in the videos embedded below.
When it comes to robotic platforms, there is one constant problem: wheels. Wheels have infinite variety for every purpose imaginable, but if you buy a wheeled robotic chassis you have exactly one choice. Even if you go down to the local Horror Freight, there’s only about five or six different wheels available, all of which will quickly disintegrate.
To solve this problem, [Audrey] created OpenWheel, a system of parametric, 3D-printable wheels, tweels, tires, and tracks for robotics and more.
Like all good parametric 3D-printable designs, OpenWheel is written in OpenSCAD. These aren’t 3D designs; they’re code that compiles into printable objects, with variables to set the radius, thickness, diameter of the axle, bolt pattern, and everything else that goes into the shape of a wheel.
Included in this toolset are a mess of wheels and gears that can be assembled into a drivetrain. 3D-printable track that can be printed out of a flexible filament for something has been almost unobtanium until now: completely configurable 3D-printable tank treads. All we need now is a 3D-printable tank transmission, and we’ll finally have a complete hobby robotics chassis.