RC Tank that Prints without Support, Assembles without Hardware and Wires without Soldering

by otvinta3d, published

RC Tank that Prints without Support, Assembles without Hardware and Wires without Soldering by otvinta3d May 17, 2017

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  • Prints without support!
  • Assembles without hardware!
  • Wires without soldering!

This tank does not require a single bolt or nut. You just print the parts, put them together, connect the motors and electronics, and it's ready for battle. It shows excellent off-road capabilities, and turns on a dime. Each of this tank's two tracks is printed in a single piece, thus eliminating the need for assembly hardware.

The machine shown in the video below is powered with a Picaxe 20M2 microcontroller installed on a 300-hole mini-breadboard. There is also an H-bridge motor driver, an IR sensor, a couple of resistors and capacitors, and a whole bunch of jump cables. The entire set of electronic components used here can be bought on eBay for just a few dollars. The tank is operated with a regular Sony TV remote control.


QtyFilenamePrint Time (min.)Total Print Time (min.)

Total printed parts: 22
Total print time (approx.): 1,483 min. (24 hours and 43 min.)p

For detailed and illustrated assembly instructions, please visit http://www.otvinta.com/download10.html.

if you like our tank, you may also like our Rubik's Cube Solving Robot:


All our models including this one were designed with Blender 3D. We have created many video tutorials on designing gears and mechanisms in Blender. To see them, please visit our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/otvinta3d.


Print the tracks first.

The two single-piece tracks are the most difficult parts to print, so start with those. Once the part is printed, each track segment needs to be gently snapped loose so that it can rotate freely relative to its adjacent segment. Do not apply excessive force when doing it as it can cause an axis to break and ruin the entire part.
UPDATE 2017-07-23: Before you attempt to print the entire track, try printing the test piece, tank_2tracks.stl. If you can then break loose the two segments and have them rotate freely, proceed with the printing of the full tracks.

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I made it and as control unit I used the BBC Micro:bit. I used two of Micro:bits. One is used as a control unit in the tank with the motor driver from Kitronik. The second is used for the remote control over radio. If somebody wants, I could share my solution with source code (Python) on GitHub.

Does it have to be a Sony TV remote?

A few years back when we built this, Picaxe only supported Sony remotes. Not sure if this is still the case, check with them.

Please tell me I didn't have to adjust the size of the pieces prior to printing them

Comments deleted.

Can someone please send a link to the electronics needed for this tank.

I am new to these kind of projects.

Thank you in advance!

Nice design, I think I'm going to try monting it and I have two questions:
-Will all TV Sony remote work with the electronics?
-What are the values readed by the controller? I mean, where can I find them?

Yes, I believe any Sony TV remote should work. About 2nd question: please refer to the Picaxe documentation.

Made a short film using the tank :)

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

Parts did not easily fit together. I guess you need a really good printer for this one.

I've just completed the build. The tank works but the motors are not string enough. One side of the tank turned out to be tighter than the other. The motor stalls a lot. What are the options to make the setup more powerful? How much voltage can these motors and the H-Bridge handle? Any thoughts on a different motor?

Same here - one side is weaker than the other. It moves forward and backwards rather slowly, but turning left or right often results in one or both motors grinding to a halt. It struggles to go up hill.

The model has come out well, but the motors don't seem to have the oomph to move the tank very well.

It could be that the tracks are not loose enough for the motor to push. Before mounting the tracks it is a good idea to spin them around in your hands to get every link loose. Do make sure you use fresh batteries.

And please post a picture and/or video of your tank here as a Make.

Comments deleted.

I can't really fit the pieces together. mostly the rails

We designed the parts to be a tight fit, that's what allows the tank to be assembled without hardware. Some sanding or scraping may be needed. Use a scissor blade, or something similar, to scrape up the edges.

Thanks. Works a lot better now.

Great Model! Could you please share some info regarding Picaxe chip? What is needed to upload the code?

You need their programming USB cable. You need to set up the following schematics on a breadboard:


Note that their cable is not designed to be used with a breadboard, so we had to use a small clamp to hold it in place.

Thanks, I will give it a try when the parts arrive!

This looks really cool. I have just got my 3d printer so I'm a noob, but once I've got the hang of it I'll be printing this. I've already got the Picaxe electronics so it should cost me nothing but my time :)

I have been successful in printing the parts for this tank but am a bit fuzzy on the electronics. If I buy the starter kit from Picaxe with the 20M2 microcontroller and using the Picaxe Editor would I be able to program the controller for the tank? Assuming I learn how to use the editor.

Yes, you should be able to load the code onto the Picaxe chip with their starter kit and cable. This is the minimal circuit:


You can set this up on a breadboard, no soldering is necessary. However, their programming cable's plug is not meant to be used with a breadboard, we had to use a clamp to hold it in place.

Comments deleted.

Does anyone have any alternative plans for the tracks? I've tried a number of times with a number of different settings and it always breaks along the stem when I try to make the pieces move. Could I get a Cad file to play around with the design?


I could fit most individual parts of this onto my 160mm (cubed) print bed, but because there was at least one (the frame) that wouldn't fit without auto-scaling - I had no way to scale all the rest down to match its fitted size with my slicer software... Sadly, I won't be able to print this.

I imported the STL file for the frame into Sketchup and then divided it into three pieces (I have a 150mm cubed limit Davinci Jr). It looks good on the screen, but I haven't tried printing it yet. I'm having more trouble with the track pieces breaking . .. looks like some folks below have some ideas for this.

So, I wouldn't give up yet just based on the size of your printer bed.

Isn't it a simple matter of turning off auto-scale and manually scaling parts to the same factor?

Awesome! You might like the 3dracers project:
You might even be able to use their electronics.

After printing this and running it for about a week , i think id much rather have tank tracks that printed in bits , these break easily and are very hard to repair and end up being a bit of a waste.

Is someone cooking bacon during the video?

Also... if you just want a cool tank, what parts could you skip printing?

There isn't a single large part I can think of that you can skip. I suppose the battery holder could be skipped but even that is structurally important as it holds the two sides of the tank together.

Comments deleted.

Hi, I'm a relative newbie but Does the underlying Picaxe code at the end of the tutorial need to be programmed in somehow, if so, how?

Yes, via Picaxe's programming cable and their integrated development environment (IDE). The process is a bit tricky but doable.

Comments deleted.

Hi, I am new on this. What design application do you use to create this excellent model?

Where can I buy the motors and transmitters? I'm lost when it comes to this stuff.

is there one made with battery holders for 18650's?

Does the Blender files available anywhere?
stl file are nice but true open is having the ability to change...

Just import the files as am stl

Where did you see this was open?

In the license: CC-BY

It allows you to reproduce, make commercial use, modify, and publish the modification under any other license (even closed ones). This is open, but not protective free.

Open source is not something indicated by a license. The license only says how you can use what is provided.

Open source is a consequence of the license.

No it's not. A license is just a statement of how a copyrighted item may be used. It has no bearing on if it is open source or not.

What CAD software was this made with?

Blender 3D (www.blender.org)

Did anyone manage to print the tracks off properly, if so what settings did you use

Hey, Printed 1st one overnight, came out perfect. Printed at 20% infill, .2 layer height. using PLA , heated bed @65C and Extruder @210C using HatchBox PLA.

WRT to the Tracks, quite smooth operation. but maybe could do with more links potentially. will see when I am complete.

okay thanks , the guys at otvinta put a two piece test track update on this morning, so I´ll try with that first.

Posted 2 pics in the I Made One, looking good

what slicer did u use?

looks well better than mine, defo gonna try again..haha

both completed first time, lucky I guess, cause I'm a knob at this

What Infill would you suggest for the Tracks?

30% should be sufficient.

I tried 15% on the two piece track and it actually came out ok.

Thanks, Got the Tracks going. going at .2 layer height, on the Creality CR-10, will post when complete

Comments deleted.

The electronics battery pack could be eliminated by running a tap wire between the third and fourth batteries over to the second power rail and adding a jumper between the two ground rails. It might be too electronically noisy to operate correctly but it would be worth a try.

If you give something crucial to the model in exchange for a donation, its not a donation.. its a fee.

Dont print this unless you want to pay for the schematic.

The schematics has been made available free of charge.

It would be cool if you could integrate a rechargeable power bank in this instead of AA batteries.

just use rechargable NiMh AA's.

i tried to print the trucks but the slicer say that the part is "not manifold" .. what ever it means ..
i tried any how .. it stopped in the middle ..
left the printer hot.

not working good.


Our STL files were tested against Simplify3D and work fine with that package. However I do see a slight irregularity (an extra vertex in each track piece). Contact us via http://www.otvinta.com/contact.html and we will email you a fix.

Great! Now we just need to combine it with a smartrap gantry and we'll be one step closer to a Von Neumann machine!

I am printing it now to use with my own electronics, PIC microcontroller, IR sensor and my Android phone to send IR commands. I still need to finish the code and get the motors or gear down the ones I have. After i will post the remix with all the details for free.

We have published the schematics on our web site. But it would be great to see your version too.

So I printed all the parts, but where is the detailed circuit diagram and wiring instructions? This thing is useless!
Just to mention there some electronic components on eBay for few bucks is not enough.

WIll be available within a day or two as a breadboard view, and with the Picaxe source code.

From the other comments, you have to pay for the rest of the information. This project really needs to be removed as a featured item.

Not anymore, the schematics is now available on our site for free.

Nice tread pattern... Looks familiar for some reason LOL

Sucks that they didn't credit you...

So yeah, if you don't want to cough up the $5 for a "donation" then you could use it for what, a kiddie push car?

It is cool but the instructions are quite complete. Basically, they are providing the printable files for free, but aren't releasing the electronics parts list or schematics - you have to pay $5 for that, without which the printed parts are not useful, which feels a bit 'sneaky'.

Their design does have one feature that's clever - the 'diamonds' on the wheels that mate into holes in the treads is clever. The idea of printable threads that are printed in place fit together has been on Thingiverse for years. The idea of snapping together parts with pins, etc., instead of screws is not new (e.g. e-NABLE Raptor, and many other designs). And 'wires without soldering' is trivial - they use a breadboard, so you push wires into the breadboard instead of soldering.

I wonder if you could fit an ESP-based RC controller board, such as the one at http://www.instructables.com/id/A-very-cheap-ESP8266-WiFi-smart-car-controlled-by-/ which uses the ESP-12E wifi/controller and the ESP-12E Motor Shield - which you can get at https://www.banggood.com/Wifi-Car-Dedicated-NodeMcu-Lua-ESP8266-ESP-12E-WiFi-Motor-Drive-Expansion-Board-p-1021716.html for under $11. Of course, you have to add motors and batteries.

Not open if they only provide part of the project. Title should be at least "tank toy with optional remote control" Should not featured with an inaccurate title / description.

should say stolen parts of tank ..

Cool design. Someone more skilled than I am should remix it to make the gun move and maybe shoot something.

If you say "For a $5 donation, we will send you the detailed circuit diagram and wiring instructions.", it's not a donation, it's a fee.

Where is this mentioned? I can't find this.

On their website where you get the schematics for the wiring

Very cool but shame they are only giving you the wiring and control diagrams etc if you pay them $5...and then claim its a donation!!! nope its a FEE!!! Just be honest about it..

Very cool. Could also probably be motorized and controlled with an Arduino, BT and motor shield.

The model shown in the video is motorized and powered by the Picaxe 20M chip. It is controlled with a regular Sony TV remote.

very nice track design!

Where did you find matching batteries?

They look like IKEA batteries