Let's Make Robots!

How to make custom and strong tank tracks for very cheap.

Gives your medium to large sized robot very good traction.

Hi, after seeing PROTOS III here on lmr I wanted a robot with big tank tracks even more than I already did, so I made some tank tracks, with slight modifications from calex63, they take some time, but are cheap and easy.



- Bike chains, two bike chain per tank track, you can buy only two and cut them in half with a chain breaker that's what I did.

Each chain was 3€ at the mall, no need for quality shimano or sram chains or anything, cheap ones will do.

- PVC tube, I used 12mm diameter but thicker is good, definitely NOT thinner, that was 1€ for 3meters(I really want to replace the PVC with Al soon)

- Screws and self tightening bolts(the ones with a bit of rubber inside) and screws, my chain fitted M3 screws nicely in the thickest links.

 Quantities will depend on how big you want it, count your chain links.


- X-acto knife.

- strong scissors(optional, easier than the knife, but results aren't so good).

- dremel with 3mm drill bit.


















Get buildin!


Cut tube in half with knife or scissors




































Cut some more.


















Drill 3mm hole in both extremities and insert 3mm screws


















Insert screw in chain's thickest type of link, and tighten self tightening bolt


















Do the same for the other side


















Keep doing 'till all the thick type links have a bit of tube.
























You're done! before doing find what wheels you'd like to use, and drill the holes in the tube halves so it's nice and tight around the wheel, I used roller skate wheels, they are bit too thin, but it's okay.



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I loved your idea, but I wanted to build some tracks which are used inside a house, without ruining everything and here it is: http://letsmakerobots.com/node/30296

very creative . that was awesome .

This is great man, i've tried doing tracks before but failed badly :) This looks like it's working and it's very cheap!

I have some questions:

  • Looking at picture labeled "Do the same for the other side", it looks like the bolts are touching the chain pin. Does it? Is there friction?
  • The PVC pipe looks like it's rigid plastic more than rubber. Is it so ? wouldn't be better to have some rubber? I was thinking about a garden hose, they're thicker and more rubbery
  • Given smaller screw, would it be possible to attach the tubes also to the small chain holes, or there would be too many too close ?
  • When it run, does the screw heads touch the ground? maybe some flat head screw with a thicker rubber would be better ?

garden hose is a good idea for smaller, lighter robots and indoors use, outdoors and with weight they wouldn't last long, and easily lose their shape.

It does in fact touch the pin, but there isn't enough friction to cause any harm, but seeing as they are self blocking bolts it's okay to not tighten them completely, and leave it a little loose, those bolts won't come out soon.

nice walkthrough... by the way I've edited a little bit your first picture... now fits excelent for my background on a 10" netbook :D




love it :D just fake HDR, a little bit fo contour, contrast, lightning :D etc etc now this is how it looks...



one question, what motors can I use? I will wrtie something so you'll laugh... Solarbotics GM2 wouldn't even move it right?

I thought of doing a HDR, but I don't have GIMP installed, so I postponed it... do you use GIMP or photoshop? I used to have a program that you just put 3 different light level pictures in and it did it automatically :D


Those motors might not move it much, maybe with smaller tracks, but I wouldn't make them much, smaller that this, maybe about 2/3 smaller at most...

What might work is these they are very powerful(and cheap), metal gears, modify them to continuous rotation and off you go :P

I have one around somewhere, not continuous rotation but i'll see it it moves the tracks.

I use photoshop... its a fake HDR but I love the way it came out...


I'll try looking to some cool chain... imagine these on a 1:1 car :D

This goes in the "why didn't I think of that" category.  I've got a limited hobby budget, so ideas like this are a big help.

One question - what do you mean by "drill the holes in the tube halves so it's nice and tight around the wheel"?

haha, yeah there was a bit of grammar fail there... Meant you had to make the plastic bits longer than the thickness of your wheel so the screws fit, but it's not too loose.

That clears it up - thank you