Introduction: How to Make Custom and Strong Tank Tracks for Very Cheap.

Picture of 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.

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!


crazypj (author)2017-09-25

I guess I'm not very good at searching and found this by accident. Even though it's 7 yrs old now it's still a great Instructable, probably better than poster originally realised? Using tube to fit into curve of chain side plate will prevent it twisting ('racking') to a greater degree. As for drive cog, dismantle a free-wheel/gear assembly, usually plenty scrap at cycle shops they may just give you 2 (one for each track) Majority of cycling enthusiasts only use a few of the 6,7,8,9,10,11 gears but you need 'matched pairs (unless you only want to go in circles)

NewtonO (author)2017-02-14

Hello, nice project you have.
What kind of wheel you use ?

RGOdenJR (author)2016-12-01

Check your photos page. I got a virus alert when trying to look at them.

RGOdenJR (author)RGOdenJR2016-12-01

@badmanbaz previous message.

badmanbaz (author)2012-09-03

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)badmanbaz2012-09-03

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.

badmanbaz (author)amando962012-09-13

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

AlfredM31 (author)badmanbaz2016-10-18

can you tell me what motor did you use and gearbox?

Kalden.Senpai (author)badmanbaz2014-10-26

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?

Janjanjanjanjan9 (author)2016-10-08

Two question about the sprockets. What is the easiest way to attach two sprockets to eachother (to make one 'wheel' for the vehicle) and if I leave an alternating tooth out of the sprockets, does this always mean that the chains (with the PVC tubes) will fit?

traitorouskin (author)2016-06-16

i've just bin looking to buy some tracks but the price is a tad high,lucky for me ialso found this great idea. after looking through the chat i'm thinkin rivets and ally angle from my old greenhouse, anybody tried something similar?

Salty Daemon (author)2016-03-27

i didnt mean to say that twice sorry

Salty Daemon (author)2016-03-27

which gearboxes / motors did u all use?

Salty Daemon (author)2016-03-27

what motors/gearboxes would anyone reccomend as a first time build

Exotechmaster55 (author)2016-03-16

Try adding some of the flex seal spray stuff it adds way more grip then just the PVC its what i did and now my bot can go almost anywhere.

Can you robot climb stairs after adding the flex seal spray?

mine cant but my friend made one with longer treads and added the flex seal spray and now his can

ceceive333 (author)2016-03-21

I am trying to construct tracks for a vehicle that can climb stairs. Is your vehicle able to climb stairs with these tracks and if not, what do think I could use other than PVC to increase the traction and adhesiveness?

dimitart (author)2015-07-09

Very nice tutorial. Can I use pop rivets instead of the screws?

thinking the exact same thing

well i did it (one track only) and it's fine, works well and it's strong. I also used metal pipe cut in half instead of plastic. It's stronger. But unfortunately i didn't had the time to finish it this summer. I will finish it in the spring ;)

DarkRevenant1. (author)2015-10-24

Would these work well in snow? I want to try making a snow removal robot XD

HugoAlex (author)2015-09-19

motors and motor controller used for this project?

SamaunusS (author)2015-04-19

Hey, nice tutorial. I was curious what sprockets/bike pulleys you used. They have every other tooth cut off. It would be awesome to know as I want to build a similar tank.

khairandzakwan.alghani (author)2015-04-16

is da best smp 4 cerdas

BenH6 (author)2014-09-19

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.

studleylee (author)2013-06-05

This is ffffeeeeinnnggg brilliant !!! Thanks!!!!!

cstewart22 (author)2013-03-29

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 :)

Viliuks (author)2013-03-23

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?

jmacquarrie (author)2011-09-10

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!

jmacquarrie (author)jmacquarrie2011-09-11

also did you weld the bolt going through the rollerblade wheel so it doesnt spin with the bearing?

amando96 (author)jmacquarrie2012-07-16

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.

miguipda (author)2012-04-22

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)miguipda2012-04-22

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

frost360 (author)2012-03-20

i hv no tơl s to make that

stephen apil (author)2012-01-22

thanks because of ur idea i can complete my project work.if u have more idea than u can mail me in

jaxx111 (author)2011-08-01

How high voltage of a motor would i need for it to work. would it have to be insanely powerful or like 12v

TheeDoctor (author)2011-06-24

Try lining the edges of the PVC that connect to the floor with a thin line of hot glue for traction

Raitono (author)2011-05-20

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.

nolan5683 (author)Raitono2011-05-26

they fit around/over the wheels

koolcat78956 (author)2011-04-20

trying to gather the materiaals needed, thanks for the idea :)

lestat666 (author)2011-04-10

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

Kaiven (author)2010-08-03

Very cool! Any tutorial for how you made your tank?

Legoman200119 (author)Kaiven2010-12-29

I belive that it is the tank platform by Sparkington

amando96 (author)Legoman2001192011-01-17

Nope, completely home made with bits of aluminium and steel rod.

bombmaker2 (author)2010-07-31

Sweet idea. Do you think it could be scaled up using motorcycle chain for something life-size?

amando96 (author)bombmaker22010-08-01

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

a4great (author)amando962011-01-16

do you have any idea on the size limit of the chain? (or if there is one)

amando96 (author)a4great2011-01-17

Virtually there isn't I guess, as long as the chain is strong, and you find stronger substitutes for the PVC

About This Instructable




Bio: I will try my best to provide cheap and easy intructables!
More by amando96:How to make custom and strong tank tracks for very cheap.Using the sparkfun 12 Button keypad, with the arduinoMini drill press for free.
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