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

Hi, after seeing PROTOS III 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.

This tutorial only covers the making of the tracks, a tutorial for the whole tank might come sometime in the future.
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

- 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.

Step 2: Get buildin'!

Picture of Get buildin'!
Cut tube in segments slightly bigger than the wheel you will mount the on, and cut those segments in half with knife or scissors.

Step 3: Drill

Picture of Drill
Drill both ends of the tube halves with the 3mm drill bit, Insert screw in chain's thickest type of link, and tighten self tightening bolt.

Do the same for the other screw.

Step 4: Keep tightening... and oh, you're done!

Picture of Keep tightening... and oh, you're done!
Tightening all the tube halves takes time, but after finished it's worth it :-)

Consider upgrading to metal instead of PVC.
Example on my current project:

Have fun!

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badmanbaz2 years ago
this helped a when i was building this mini robot a while back using modified code from the lawnbot400 instructable i used derailleur cogs with every other tooth removed and small screws instead of bolts and filled them with glue gun glue as mentioned above works brilliantly and none of the slipping as i had issues with using Rollerblade wheels in a previous attempt
amando96 (author)  badmanbaz2 years ago
Nice job! any chance we could get some detailed pics of the drive system? I'll add it to the tutorial, the more ways to make it the better, I'm relying only on friction to drive it, and it works very well, but other people haven't been so lucky.
here are the pictures there are the few versions of these tracks ive made feel free to add any of the picture's you feel are useful
robot tracks album

and a few of the minibot

Hey man where did you get those little sprockets? I can't find ones like that anywhere! It looks like the teeth fit perfectly between the bolts.

I can only guess that you got 10-tooth sprockets and ground off every second tooth?

BenH66 months ago

I see people talking about making the tracks with metal, how would one cut the metal tube? I own a scroll saw, but I was looking a long time ago and people said 1/8" aluminum would be very hard to cut with one.

studleylee1 year ago
This is ffffeeeeinnnggg brilliant !!! Thanks!!!!!
masonmilby1 year ago
Hey I wanted to know how you connected the roller skate wheels to the motor shaft because I'm building my own right now
cstewart221 year ago
hi, hoping you could help im having trouble looking for a some motors to power my new project. i like the speed of yours in the youtube video could you tell me what type and/or brand the motors were please many thanks :)
Viliuks2 years ago
I, was thinking making the tracks with the bike chains and wood because im making a tiger I tank replica out of wood. So is it a good idea to change the PVC pipe to some wood?
jmacquarrie3 years ago
hey there, can you post pic of side view of treads and one of right on the back, if you know what i mean. curious about rollerblade drive wheel, i was planning mine with cogs and cassettes and other rip raff from bikes. would be really helpful, tyia!
also did you weld the bolt going through the rollerblade wheel so it doesnt spin with the bearing?
amando96 (author)  jmacquarrie2 years ago
Sorry for the really late reply, I'm adding some more pictures right now, side views, front and back.

I machined a piece of steel the same size as the bearing but with a 5mm hole in the centre for the drill screws.
miguipda2 years ago
Dear amando96,

thanks for this great instructable I will use for a personal project.

But I have a question about your good idea.
This tank tracks could be used to work on grass but how does they ride on rocks.
In my backyard they are some small rocks on many slopes. As your tank tracks could help me I do not really be sure they will work on those kind of slopes.
Then having tank tracks like this :

may be can we use tire parts to use in place (or to put in) your halves PVC tubes.

Or may be do you have a better idea or may be already test it on small rock slopes ?

Sincerely thanks.

Have a nice day,

Miguipda ;-)
amando96 (author)  miguipda2 years ago
I tried it out on sand and gravel at a slight incline, too easy.

It's not just about the tracks though, you must have powerful motor/gearbox combo
frost3603 years ago
i hv no tơl s to make that
thanks because of ur idea i can complete my project work.if u have more idea than u can mail me in
jaxx1113 years ago
How high voltage of a motor would i need for it to work. would it have to be insanely powerful or like 12v
TheeDoctor3 years ago
Try lining the edges of the PVC that connect to the floor with a thin line of hot glue for traction
Raitono3 years ago
Nice job. But how does it actually connect to the gear that turns them? Will a normal bike gear work or what? Will the screws get in the way? I'm planning on using a similar idea for a new project and need to know how it fits together.
they fit around/over the wheels
trying to gather the materiaals needed, thanks for the idea :)
lestat6663 years ago
i noticed u didnt say any thing about the drive wheel im new to all this so a lil help on that would b great
Kaiven4 years ago
Very cool! Any tutorial for how you made your tank?
I belive that it is the tank platform by Sparkington
amando96 (author)  Legoman2001194 years ago
Nope, completely home made with bits of aluminium and steel rod.
bombmaker24 years ago
Sweet idea. Do you think it could be scaled up using motorcycle chain for something life-size?
amando96 (author)  bombmaker24 years ago
If you find a substitute for the PVC tube, like steel it could be done, nothing bigger than those off road go carts though, if you try, let me know :-P
do you have any idea on the size limit of the chain? (or if there is one)
amando96 (author)  a4great4 years ago
Virtually there isn't I guess, as long as the chain is strong, and you find stronger substitutes for the PVC
I will and thanks.
How do you make the wheel for the chain???
amando96 (author)  koolcat789564 years ago
Roller skate wheels.
But how does the chain stay on the wheels?, if there is no teeth to hold the chain on.
The screws and bolts are used to create teeth on the inside of the chain to allow it to grip the drive wheel.
Ya how would it have traction would it just be pulled taut enough?
dagomuffin4 years ago
you might want to add some traction on the halves, even if its bike tire rubber and super glue
Can you tell me how you mount your wheels?
agis684 years ago
Very very nice idea....the negative to me is the pieces of PVC tube...I don't know their strength and the effectiveness is hard soils. If you change them with metal then might work really better. But this doesn't influence the value of this really nice instructable as a source and food for though and forward research....I give 5/5 and more for sure dude…and I will try to build mine for the next tank robot I am building. Special thanks because now I have the solution to make cheap tank tracks.

i cut rubber from a bicycle tire and glued it to the pvc to get traction
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