May 30, 2015 | By Simon

Of all of the thousands of various DIY projects that can be done using a 3D printer, those that involve the use of a Raspberry Pi have been among the most memorable - and for good reason.  

Similar to how 3D printers allow for users to create their own hardware designs, the Raspberry Pi allows users to create their own software designs and functions with a variety of add-ons that allow for them to create an entirely unique product.  When the custom hardware and custom software come together, users have the option to build their own completely unique product designs that don’t necessarily rely on multiple parts to provide any number of functions.  

A recent example of that shows just how great the Raspberry Pi and 3D Printing go hand-in-hand comes from Miska Karvonen, a 24-year-old engineering student from Oulu, Finland who goes by the name “mkarvonen” on Instructables.  The talented student and father of a four-year-old engineering in the making recently created a project that he is calling the Raspberry Pi Spy Tank.

Using a GoPiGo - a complete build-your-own remote control Raspberry Pi robot kit - as a starting point, Karvonen disassembled the kit for parts to use in his own Spy Tank design.  Among other parts that are included with the GoPiGo include the robot’s chassis, tires, battery pack and a motor - all great components that Karvonen could use for a foundation for building his Spy Tank from scratch.  In addition to the GoPiGo parts though, Karvonen also sourced a Raspberry camera, a WiFi dongle and an SD card that was programmed with a GoPiGo disk image.  Once the parts were sourced, Karvonen referenced Australian design engineer Tim Clark’s open source Drogerdy tank design as a starting point for building his own.

To print the parts, Karvonen used a Printrbot 3D printer and PLA filament at print speeds that varied from 20 mm/s to 50 mm/s with a layer height of .2 mm.  Karvonen adds that the PLA filament he used was of the more expensive variety and that although he spent about $25 on materials, the cost could easily be cut in half by using a more economical material solution.  

Once the parts were all printed out, all that was left to do was finish them with a little bit of sandpaper and assemble them into the final Spy Tank along with the necessary programmed Raspberry Pi components.  To assemble the tracks of the tank, he simply used a toothpick.  

While the Spy Tank as-is provides a great way to explore an area using a live-feed Raspberry camera, Karvonen adds that you can make it even more of a stealth device by altering the battery supply from 8 AA batteries to two 9V batteries.  

For full build instructions as well as all the necessary source files, head over to the Raspberry Pi Spy Tank Instructables page.

“Play with it and see where it can go,” recommends Karvonen.   

“Use the live video and bright led's to see under your bed and discover horrible mess from there.”



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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