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R/C Tank Combat

Battle In The Badlands

Lessons Learned

Steve Tyng

The Battle in the Badlands was the second foray for the Dreaded T34. This time out my tank had three new systems installed. These were a forced air cooling system, an electronic triggered paintball marker, and a remote video system installed in the turret. In addition, this was the first time the tank and the TTS track system was tested in an extremely dusty and a muddy environment.

Forced Air Cooling
From experience after the first battle I decided that some form of fan driven cooling system was in order for the T005. After an hours battling you couldn't touch the EV Warrior motors due to the heat. I installed two squirrel cage blowers that drew air from the motor compartment and forced it into the turret where the cooling air would exit through vents drilled into the cupola hatch and through the turret/hull interface (a side benefit of forcing air into the turret is that it made it harder for paint to find its way into the turret rotate, a problem a had during the first battle). The air intakes were drilled through the bottom of the hull adjacent to the drive motors. I put the intakes on the bottom thinking that paint would not be splashed into the motor compartment (something you need to think about). I didn't get any paint into the motor compartment but I did get a lot of dust. I didn't put any filtering material over the intakes because the environment we battled at last time wasn't particularly dusty and that was the same site we were going to battle at again. Plans changed and we ended up in a very dusty environment. Though the inside of the tank got dusty everything kept working and my motors were noticeably cooler this time out. I'll be putting some sort of filter system on the intakes before the next battle.

Electronic Marker
Probably the most significant and time consuming upgrade to the T005 was the new electronic marker (a model GTVe). My Anvilus mixer has two auxiliary relay/solenoid drivers and the thought was that it would be an easy matter to interface the trigger solenoid to the Anvilus mixer. The first thing I learned is that you cannot directly trigger the marker solenoid from battery current. To use the electronic marker I had to maintain the electronic board from the marker. I interfaced the markers board to the mixer by replacing the markers trigger microswitch with a small relay that was driven by the Anvilus mixer. A pushbutton was installed in the transmitter for a trigger. An electronic trigger gives you a very high rate of fire. I could easily fire four balls in the time it took some other tanks to fire one. Obviously the advantage to this is when you get a ranging shot that hits you can follow quickly with three more shots for the kill. I really found the high rate of fire good in close-in "strafing" runs where I would slip past an opponent and quickly finish him off.

Some problems I had with the electronic trigger. It was easy to empty your magazine and exhaust your CO2 supply very quickly. And the gun would at times fire without any input from me. Whether this was from radio interference, the bouncing of the vehicle (e-markers are built with a hair trigger), or something else, I do not yet know. Joe Sommer suggested separating the markers trigger board onto its own power supply which I will do. During the battle, for safety reasons, I tried to keep the barrel pointing into the ground unless engaging somebody. Overall I was very impressed with the new marker. I heard many comments from others about equipping their tanks with the technology over the winter!

Remote Video System
I don't have much to say about this. These systems do not appear to handle shocks very well. Mine and Joe Sommers video systems both died during the first battle. We never were able to get any footage this way. Some effective form of shock mounting would be required for the transmission system and camera to make these system useful. Shock mounting means space taken up inside the vehicle which is in short supply already. Additionally, I noticed that my camera port installed in the cupola always seemed to get hit early in any engagement which effectively kills the video system.

Tyng Track System In Dust and Mud
The battlefield was a dry flat area of straw covered dirt with patches of standing water and mud. During the battle the tanks kicked up quite a bit of dust. Of course the dust would coat every part of the tracks and road wheels. I didn't notice any undue drive wheel slippage due to the dust. The dust did manage to find its way into the wheel axles. I didn't lock the wheels up or anything like that but at the end of the day in the shop you could tell that the road wheels didn't turn as easily. I added some oil for the next day with a complete tear down and cleaning planned for the winter. Along with the straw there was a bunch of the twine that was used to tie the bales of straw together. This twine appeared to affect some of the tanks but I did not experience any problems with it until at one point I decided to play in the mud.

At one point during the last battle on Saturday I did run the T34 through a shallow puddle while attempting to evade the Hetzer. I would like to say that the T34 blasted through the muddy pit with no problem whatsoever. Coming out of the puddle the tracks were wet and full of mud which did not appear to affect performance to much. I didn't notice any undue drive wheel slippage. The wet muddy tracks began to collect a bunch of the loose straw which ended up getting stuck to the inside if the tracks. I still didn't see any noticeable drop in performance and finished the battle just fine. After the battle is another story. Joe and myself decided to take our tanks back into the muddy puddle for some photo ops. We were running back and forth through the puddle and I even managed to do some turn in places in the mud. After this the tracks were VERY muddy and caked with even more straw. The tank was still moving fairly well under its own power so I decided to show off some more and ran the tank up and over a bale of straw (some interesting photos were taken of this). While doing this I managed to get a bunch of that twine entangled into one of my drive chains which effectively locked that track up. I had to disassemble my tracks that evening to get everything cleaned out off them. All in all I think the TTS did extremely well in the dusty and muddy conditions. The only issue was the twine getting stuck in a drive chain and I think my tank is the only one with exposed drive chains so this shouldn't be an issue for anybody else. I'll avoid mud in the future because it's a pain to get out of the tracks afterwards.

Frank Pittelli

Mobility Is Everything
The EV Warriors that were installed in the Tiger after the previous battle are very nice motors. They provide an abundance of power that translates into increased speed and turing capability on the battlefield. The Tiger had no difficulty navigating around the tough terrain and went an entire weekend without a problem.

Of course, nothing is for free. The EVs have some drawbacks that must be overcome. They consume a large amount of energy, which requires an appropriate size battery to last through an entire battle without slowing down. Also, as Steve explained above, you should really plan on cooling them down for the best performance. I didn't have time to install my cooling fans before the battle and the motors were screaming for some relief by the end of the battle. They will definitely be installed before the next battle.

The EV's thirst for power also requires careful attention to proper wiring. Early tests of the motors caused the battery connectors to get warm. Although they might have been OK, I doubled up on the wiring and connectors just to be sure ... two lengths of 10 gauge wire are better than one. We also installed high-amp fuses in all of the Tri-Pact vehicles (60+ amps) just in case something went wrong. None of the fuses blew over the weekend and nor do we expect them ever to blow ... it's just insurance.

Suspension or Bust
Another drawback of high-speed and mobility is the wear and tear on the rest of the vehicle when going over rough terrain. The Tiger went over bumps and ruts with ease, but the slamming and banging of internal systems was bone crunching. As it turned out, nothing was broken after all of the shaking, but it certainly didn't sound that way during the battle. Fortunately, the track controllers were shock mounted, but anything that wasn't securely tied down were bounced around quite a bit. Over the winter, I'll be looking at ways to either add a suspension system to the hull or shock mount all of the internal systems. (We're not really sure if a friction drive track will work effectively with suspended wheels.)

New Track System
Along with a motor overhaul, the Tiger got a new set of tracks since the last battle. The new track is a modified Tyng Track System, that uses molded polyurethane interior treads with two rows of teeth that are riveted to wooden exterior treads made of oak. The track worked perfectly all weekend long, despite some heavy abuse, and a close examination after the battles showed no signs of serious wear. I agree with Steve that such tracks are performing well so far, but only time and more battling will thoroughly test them in all conditions.

More Modifications
Although I felt that the Tiger performed well and had only minor problems throughout the weekend, I already have a long list of modifications to improve its performance and maintainability ... a magazine that is easier to load, replace v-belt by chain, easier track tension system, motor cooling fans, install larger CO2 bottle, etc. Nothing major, just a complete rebuild of every system!!!

John Pittelli

Improved Track System
The new and improved Bike Chain Steel Rivets & Washers (BCSRW) system worked extremely well in the Badlands. The only rivets that popped were the older aluminum pieces. I did not let the General (Frank) know that I cranked up the tension for day two. Since the Pz. IV has been a test of the many new and improved Tri-Pact engineering systems, I felt that day 2 would be a good test of the new chain system verus the old. The left track was the new BCSRW and the right carried the old. By the end of Battle IV, the left had sustained no rivet problems while the right popped 3 treads in the final minutes making some turns slightly difficult. The Pz. IV drove off under it's own power. So if you need a quick set of economical treads, BCSRW is the way to go.

Test Hard, Then Harder
One other hint. When testing your systems at home, make it really, really hard. I ran my tank over and into all types of obstacles; bricks, split rails, tall grass, packed and loose gravel. Better to fail at the house than wasting time in the depot during battle.