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Ladies, Gentlemen, potential Tank Pilots of all ages,
It is my dream to provide a means by which you may own and drive your very own miniature tank at an affordable price. The (functionally) beautiful machine you see before you, is a precisely engineered tank with a few more features up its sleeve than the traditional remote controlled marble launchers you see on youtube,
What Does This Contraption Do?
To break it down, this vehicle has two operational modes, which it swaps between automatically depending on if the cannon is loaded or unloaded. Look up "Self Loading Tank With Cannon and Two Motors" or see the video below:
Full Drive Mode
When the tiny little tank has nothing in it's cannon to fire, it can roll forwards, backwards, turn left and right in place, and roll forward or backward on either of its treads while the other is stationary. Any time the left or right tread moves backwards however, the little grabber arms start to move up and down.
The arms in its front are ammo collectors designed to crab little tiny cannon balls. Once the tank rolls up to the cannonball and has it in the middle of the two hands, the tank must roll forward on one side or the other until the cannonball is resting on the two prongs. Once resting in the two prongs, the tank can roll backwards and the ball will be raised up and fall into the collection basket. Keep rolling backwards until the red pin pulls back and the ball falls into place inside the launcher, and it will then be in Loaded/Firing mode.
Once it is loaded, the Tank's driving options become limited. It can no longer drive backwards on the left or right side unless both sides are driving backwards. Why is this? Because the motors are now trying to push the pin that launches the marble out of the cannon whenever you drive backwards, and if only one side is moving backwards the one motor cannot fire the cannon by itself. In fact, you might prefer to load cannonballs by using one motor to drive backwards so it doesn't get launched by mistake. You can however drive forward without any problem, and while you cant turn in place, you can do wide turns by driving forward on either the left or right tread, since if the other tread is not moving, you will pivot forward around that non moving side. When the cannon is lined up with your target, drive both sides backwards and BOOM, the cannonball shoots forward, and with some imagination it even looks like the tank is being blown backwards a bit by the force of the cannonball launching. The tank then reverts back to Full Drive Mode.
What is the point you ask?
Because its FUN! When your not trying to hit targets, you can just roll around and even over some obstacles, and collecting the cannonballs is itself part of the fun. You don't have to get up and collect the cannonballs yourself either, the tank does it all for you! Did I mention the tank can do wheelies?
But the price must be ABSURD you say?
The tank is designed to operate on a mere two motors, which drives the cost down significantly since you only need one IR receiver and two motors to control all it's functions, sacrificing maneuverability only so long as you keep it in firing mode. The electronic components when purchased individually would run you about $60.00 USD, and Im guessing the remaining plastic runs between $30.00 to $40.00 USD. At the high point, this will cost roughly $100.00 USD to buy, more or less depending on how much The LEGO Company would like to fancy it up with decorative armor plates or a target to shoot at, as well as any price break for the motors being part of the set rather than individual.
A two player set, would cost roughly $200.00 USD, but with that price I imagine it will include two targets or goals to shoot at, which gets us to the best part of these little machines:
Whats this Competitive stuff I mentioned?
Since the tank only uses two motors, it needs one IR receiver to control all the features, which uses up one of four channels. This means up to four people, each with their own tank, can be playing at the same time. The game can either be played in a relatively small, squared off section of a room, given the compact size of the vehicles, or it can be played out across your living room. To add to the strategy, players can build their own supporting structures (Or maybe The LEGO Company can design a few?) like a cannonball reservoir and quick load station, or a defensive wall to protect their goal from cannon fire.
Part of the fun is also improving the design with your own ideas, such as a couple wheels in the back like I put in to prevent the tank from flipping over backwards when I tried going up something just a bit too steep, or a beam that sticks out with a hook to crab cannonballs from tricky locations. Perhaps you even want to strap on another IR sensor and motors for additional mechanisms like an arm that raises the front of your tank to fire an arched shot at a greater distance, or a claw on the back to grab and drag your opponent or maybe even steal a support structure from them? Of course you sacrifice another player slot to do that but at this point who cares when you've got to one-up your neighbor's tank in a one on one game?
IMPORTANT: Potential changes to the tank's design and the competitive aspects
The goal of this project is to get a single tank available for sale based on my design, with or without any of the targets, capture points and etc I described. I will leave it up to The LEGO Company to design and include any goals or other equipment with or without the tank (or tanks) so they can design it in a way they feel is aesthetically and cost friendly with the audience they decide to target, and make it fit the budget they have in mind.
The tank itself works pretty good, but as it is, it's very barebones and doesn't look like something to grab someone's attention. I will leave it up to The LEGO group to fancy it up and make any technical or cosmetic changes their engineers feel will enhance the features and make it more appealing, just keep in mind it will probably get a few changes if it gets reviewed and approved.