Apr. 6, 2015 | By Simon

Among some of the better 3D printing-based projects we’ve seen over the past few years have been those that combine the 3D printed housings with various other electronic systems or microcontrollers that enable the project to have functions that rival those of mass-manufactured goods.  So far, we’ve seen this be done with everything from smartphones and laptop computers to smart door locks and even a Spotify-streaming toy bear.  To put it simply, while these projects may require more hardware components up-front (and perhaps a little extra skill), their functionalities are undeniable more useful.  

Among other recent projects that utilize a computer or other microcontroller to bring a 3D print to life is the Multi-Purpose Talking Robot Platform that was recently shared by Instructables user  ‘hobbyman’.

“This is a bulldozer, tank, robot, digger toy or a serious robot platform and maybe some other things. I mean it is a bit modular,” writes hobbyman on his Instructables page.  

“The electronics and code I've provided makes it run, remote-controlled by pc via a Bluetooth link and yes; it talks.”

The modular robot or toy platform is essentially built off of a chassis that enables the user to add any number of 3D printed toy housings to it ranging from the aforementioned bulldozer, tank, digger toy or anything else that a user wants to program it as using the code that was generously provided by hobbyman.  While the build instructions are located on the Instructables page, all of the necessary STL files for downloading and 3D printing the assembly components are located on the project's Thingiverse page.  

The chassis is designed with the dimensions of geared DC mini motors in-mind (which can be purchased from a variety of different sources) and consists of a mechanism located at the center that is able to control various functions of the different toys, as tested.  

In designing the modular platform, hobbyman designed the components for ease of fabrication using a 3D printer with a straightforward assembly process; once the necessary parts have been printed, the build starts with the central control mechanism at the center of the chassis and depending on what the project goal is, the rest of the body is created around the chassis assembly.  

Among other features that the modular toy is capable of is incorporating the use of a bicycle chain to the wheels in order to create a tank or a digger that can be made by attaching arms and a connecting bucket, which is capable of being operated via an RC servo unit and operated robotically.  

As for making the finished robot talk, hobbyman has supplied interested users with the necessary HEX file that includes voices downloaded online from the popular Warcraft video game.  In total, the robot toy is able to talk with custom speech, obey orders sent through Bluetooth and is capable of being expanded to offer more functions depending on the end goal of the creator.   


Finally, to control the robot, the Bluestick Control app for Android is used and is capable of directing the robot using an Android device and a serial terminal program via PC.

While the project appears to be slightly time-consuming, its abilities to be shapeshifted into any other number of talking RC-controlled toys makes it a perfect example of what can be done with some simple programming knowledge and a 3D printer.  

For the full build instructions, be sure to check out the project over on Instructables.  



Posted in 3D Printer Applications


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