Introduction: How to Make RC Tank With Cardboard, Pens and Paperclips

About: A Interaction Designer with Industrial Design and EE background. Maker since a kid. Super grateful to new technology and online communities made everything possible!

I love tanks! How about building a simple RC tank with materials readily available for everyone? In this instructable, you can learn how to make one with cardboard, pens and paperclips.

Tools needed: Knife, scissors, ruler, tape, hot glue gun and soldering iron

Parts used is listed below:


3mm thick Cardboard(typical Amazon shipping boxes)

Bic Pens:

Paper clips

Some wires of 4 colors

Gear Motor:

Battery holder:

Step 1: Cut the Cardboard

Here are 3 pages of plan you can print on letter size to have the correct scale. Then attach them to the 3mm cardboard in order to cut them out.

The first page is all the parts of the hull, which will be the next step, so you can cut that page first.

Step 2: Assemble the Hull

With all the parts cut, now we can hot glue the pieces together.

One thing before the action though, is that we need to solder the motors. Pick 4 long wires(for as long as you want to control the tank). Solder them to the 2 pins of each motor, and you can strengthen the connection with a dash of hot glue.

After that, we can put the hull together. Make sure you glue the motor to the side walls firmly.

Step 3: Making the Driving System (wheels and Tracks)

There are total 6 wheels in this tank design. 2 are drive wheels and the rest 4 are road wheels.

Each wheel is made out of 6 layers of cardboard, the top layer has sprocket look for cosmetics but also to prevent the tracks from coming out.

I used the pen as a guide to glue all the road wheels. Make sure no glue is near the pen so they won't get stuck.

For the drive wheels though, it's quite different. Since we will glue it to the motor shaft, we need to pre-cut two short pen pieces, and make sure all the layers of the drive wheel are glued to it. Also we need to add the actual sprockets , which is made out of one side peeled cardboard.

Use 2 pens as the shaft for the 4 road wheels(no glue needed) and attach the drive wheels to the motor shafts with plenty of hot glue.

Brackets on each side could be added to keep the wheels in place.

Next is the signature tank track. We can use the same technic for the drive wheel sprockets, make a strip long enough to loop around all 3 wheels, then use tape to fix end to end.

Then you can add little pieces as the paddings on the track for better traction, or leave them for a drifting tank. :D

Step 4: Cannon, Scopes, Lights, Antennas and Decals

These pieces are mainly for the look of the tank so get creative.

The cannon is made out of a paper tube with a couple layers of cardboard. Make sure you peel one side off first for better curvature. Some surgery is needed to make sure the tube fit the hull and not interfere with the motor shafts.

The light is made out of a used button battery, just wrap it with some cardboard and glue it to wherever you would like.

The scope and antennas are made out of leftovers of the pens.

You can create your own decal with stickers or even paint it. Don't forget to share your design here :D

The above 2 pictures is my design.

Step 5: The Remote

Before we start the remote, one clean up we could do is to tape the 4 wires together so they won't tangle up down the road.

The first step is to assemble the bottom and the 3 walls of the remote.

Then we'll build the 2 joysticks that control 2 motors forward and backwards. Each stick has 2 paperclips that are folded and connected to the 2 wires of the same motor. Make sure the 2 paperclip never make contact with each other.

Then we need to make 2 straightened paperclips for the positive and negative out of the battery holder, 4 AA batteries are used to provide the 6V

The exact connection could be different depends on the colors of the wires, just make sure you test it out before soldering.

Step 6: That's It

That's it! Hope this tutorial is fun and leave a comment below if there is any questions!

I have put a lot effort in to this project and the video, so if you like it, please thumb up, like and subscribe to my Youtube Channel here: ! :D

Thanks a lot!

See you next time!