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The DIY Tank 334

Posted by samzenpus
from the but-how-much-is-the-insurance dept.
Will Foster, a Kettering University student, has built his own half sized Panzer tank. It took Will 2 years and around $10,000 to build his mini-tank and he says the process has been "a lot of trial and error...I'd buy a $200 part that didn't work, then go to a $300 part that didn't work before finding a $50 part that did." The tank is about as big as a small car, and can reach speeds of around 20 mph with its three-cylinder diesel engine. It runs on treads, has a cannon powered by compressed air from a scuba tank and parks wherever the hell it wants.
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The DIY Tank

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  • by PlatyPaul (690601) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:31PM (#22991018) Homepage Journal
    ... will you be my research advisor?
    • hail all ye rounders (Score:3, Informative)

      by paiute (550198)
      Am I the first brother to RTFA? Will is a Theta Xi, one of the original (if not the first, sorry pledge trainer) fraternity founded for engineering students.
  • by deander2 (26173) * <public@[ ]ed.org ['ker' in gap]> on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:33PM (#22991042) Homepage
    if there was ever a time this tag really fit.... =P
  • $ Dollars (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:34PM (#22991062)
    Is that $10,000 dollars as opposed to $10,000 donuts or !10,000 dollars, or what?
  • Interesting (Score:5, Funny)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:35PM (#22991082) Homepage
    To see what the parking place attendants will say when you park it.

    Also interesting to see what they will write on the parking ticket...

    • by name*censored* (884880) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:43PM (#22991220)
      Just make up some fake diplomatic immunity plates for it. No-one's going to believe a parking inspector who tells people "I couldn't ticket the panzer because of Iraqi Diplomatic Immunity".
    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AgentPaper (968688) * on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:51PM (#22991986)
      Well, even if it were full size it'd still be smaller than any of the "Ford F-Off" (tm Achromatic1978) giant-sized trucks and SUVs that you're apt to see people driving in Flint. (The Panzer was about a foot shorter than a Suburban/Yukon XL/Escalade ESV.)

      I don't think the meter maids would complain so much as the road commission. Treads aren't nice to asphalt, and Michigan already has the worst-maintained roads in the nation...
      • by oddaddresstrap (702574) on Monday April 07, 2008 @08:58PM (#22995524)
        The treads appear to be smooth and since his tank isn't heavy like a real, armored tank, it's not likely to do much damage. In the video, it appears to grind the pavement slightly when he spins in place.
        The treads look to be about a foot wide and there's at least five feet of contact on each side. That would give him around 1440 square inches of contact area. If his tank weighs a ton (the "armor" is plywood, after all), it is exerting less than 1.4 psi (about half what a person does).
  • by C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:39PM (#22991130) Journal
    "panzer tank" ??? where did this come from ? the redundant department of redundancy ? panzer already is german for "tank".

    you either say "german tank" or "german panzer", but "panzer tank"??? sheesh.
    • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:43PM (#22991218)
      I find it interesting that someone who uses zeros as a substitute for the letter "O" in their nickname would be such a stickler when it comes to proper language usage. :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      panzer != tank
      panzer == armor

      Only $2000? I'm all about building one.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by redcaboodle (622288)

        panzer != tank panzer == armor

        Panzer can mean both.

        • Re:panzer tank ??? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Keith_Beef (166050) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:12PM (#22991558)
          I believe that use of the word "Panzer" is a an abbreviation for "Panzerkampfwagen", which roughly means "armoured assault vehicle".
          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:55PM (#22992026)
            Panzer is German for panther.

            This is like complaining that "sherman tank" is redundant, cause, like, you know, everyone knows that a sherman is a tank.

            Excuse me while I finish my decaf coffee and turn off my cell phone before I get into my BMW automobile and drive on the interstate highway.
        • by sumdumass (711423) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:15PM (#22991616) Journal
          That why those german's lost the war. They didn't know if they were sending the armor division or a tank division into battle.

          At least the English decided to name things a cover story dealing with potable water that was hiding the development of what became the first Tank. They only get confused if they forget their mission, it's either following the mess hall around or shooting up the enemy.
      • Re:panzer tank ??? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by lunartik (94926) on Monday April 07, 2008 @03:15PM (#22992220) Homepage Journal

        Only $2000? I'm all about building one.


        He probably could make some of the money back by selling the plans. An ad for "Build Your Own Mini-Tank!" in the back of Popular Mechanics might actually be the most legit kit ever advertised there.
      • Re:panzer tank ??? (Score:5, Informative)

        by cyxxon (773198) on Monday April 07, 2008 @03:21PM (#22992276) Homepage
        Err, no. I am german, and it is clearly Panzer = Tank. While, say, a piece of a medieval plate armor that goes to the chest can be called Brustpanzer (with brust = chest), and the word Panzerung means armor, the word Panzer itself just plain and simple means tank. Caveat: I do not know what the correct military bureaucrat term is for that, since they tend to have a word no one outside of the military uses, but in general german that is what it means.
    • A friend of mine from work once thought that steed was a type of horse. I think I was referring to my mountain bike as a 'steed' and as an explanation I talked about a 'steel horse' like in Bon Jovi's song. He argued that the lyrics were 'Steed Horse.'. Poor guy still gets harrassed about that to this day.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      Would it boil you if I said:

      "Hey look at the replica U-Boat submarine!" ;)

      But its a English terminology thing... I can't seem to find the Churchill quote but he stated that German villians use U-boats wheras their British Heroes ride in Submarines.

      Same thing with the usage of the Germans Panzer Tank.
    • by fred fleenblat (463628) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:00PM (#22991450) Homepage
      Oh how I miss panzergirl, on the beach in her panzerkini.
      But I have to get back to work cleaning out septic panzers.
    • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:15PM (#22991614) Journal
      The word "panzer" in English is a class noun that denotes a general type of tank, specifically German, usually of the WWII era.

      Words in different languages mean different things, even if the sounds are the same, and even if the word is borrowed into another language. You're not insightful for your observation - you're ignorant of language and linguistics.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:19PM (#22991654)
      We are Americans here! We are not supposed to know another language! We can say whatever heck we want! Remember that for us Yankees, Canada is the 51st state, UK is the 52nd, Paris is right beside Beijing and southbound from Baghdad, the Vietnam is close to Hawaii, there is nothing south of El Paso besides Illegal Aliens, Jungle and 3X beer, and Japan, Korea and Australia belong to the same continent.
      So, now get of my lawn with your German classes!
  • by Incoherent07 (695470) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:39PM (#22991132)
    http://blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/newsnow/2008/04/post_moto_kid_death_story_here.html [mlive.com]

    Note the last part. The Flint Journal must be extremely confident in how road-safe this tank is.
    • The builder is from my alma mater.

      If you've never been to Flint before, that tank is pretty much what you need to make it down some parts of Dort highway.
  • Sane police (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schwit1 (797399) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:39PM (#22991134)
    "(Police) came and they just told us to head back home, but they were also laughing at it because they had never seen anything like that before."


    It's refreshing to read about police who aren't trying to taser everything that fails to conform.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:47PM (#22991276)
      Would YOU try to taser a guy driving a tank?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by s20451 (410424)
        With a 3-cylinder engine, you could pretty much stop it with your outstretched arm.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kazymyr (190114)
          You're welcome to try. It's a Diesel - and Diesels may not be fast, but they have lots of torque.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Spend more time in the real world rather than living with your bias and blinders on - and it won't be refreshing, it will be boring as hell. Because that's how most cops are.
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:57PM (#22991412)
      It's refreshing to read about police who aren't trying to taser everything that fails to conform.

      It's a tank. You've got a taser. Good humour is the best way to handle this situation, don't you think? Unless you've got the facility to radio in an airstrike.

      • by g1zmo (315166) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:28PM (#22991774) Homepage

        It's a tank. You've got a taser. Good humour is the best way to handle this situation, don't you think? Unless you've got the facility to radio in an airstrike.

        I think LAPD has implemented a preliminary test program.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hey! (33014)
        Never underestimate the power of adrenaline mixed with testosterone. When that guy stole that tank in San Diego and went on a rampage crushing cars and knocking down utility poles, a cop jumped up on the tank and shot him.

        And you thought Dirty Harry was tough cop, that guy's street cred must be off scale. You feel lucky today punk? You do? OK, then I'll just have to call in my partner here, WHO SINGLE HANDEDLY STOPPED A FRIGGEN TANK WITH A 9mm PISTOL.

    • It's refreshing to read about police who aren't trying to taser everything that fails to conform.
      It's Flint. They have better things to do besides worry about some tank blowing things up.
    • by mortonda (5175)
      What I can't believe is that people called the police in the first place. I mean, it's half size, and the armor is wood! There's no mistaking it for a real tank. Just like when people mistake firecrackers for gunshots. If you actually take the time to fire a gun a few times, you realize there's a considerable difference.
      • Re:Sane police (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Deadstick (535032) on Monday April 07, 2008 @03:03PM (#22992098)
        Just like when people mistake firecrackers for gunshots.

        ...and vice versa. When the reporter asks witnesses why they didn't call the cops right away, they're very likely to say "It didn't sound like a gun." What they really mean is "It didn't sound like a movie gun."

        I remember quite a few people who thought the gunfire in Saving Private Ryan sounded fakey -- precisely because it didn't.

        rj

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Sloppy (14984)

          When the reporter asks witnesses why they didn't call the cops right away, they're very likely to say "It didn't sound like a gun." What they really mean is "It didn't sound like a movie gun."

          As a clueless, street-naive person, I can totally understand that. Last July 3rd, I was standing outside a bar when some asshole started shooting (roughly) in the direction of a crowd I was in. In the first second, I couldn't figure out why so many people were diving for the pavement. I mean, it was just someone ac

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          I remember quite a few people who thought the gunfire in Saving Private Ryan sounded fakey -- precisely because it didn't.

          Sounded fake to me, I was not wearing ear protection and I was not partially deaf with ringing ears. :-)
  • by gdog05 (975196) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:39PM (#22991136)
    Someone driving one of these and talking on a cell phone.
  • by apachetoolbox (456499) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:40PM (#22991150) Homepage
    At first I thought about the MPG it gets. Then I though it doesn't matter when you can just go in a straight line. Buildings-shmildings.
  • Gentlemen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AndGodSed (968378) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:40PM (#22991152) Homepage Journal
    Hats off.

    There goes a truly great future engineer...
  • Tiger I (Score:5, Informative)

    by Black-Man (198831) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:40PM (#22991158)
    It appears he modeled it after the Tiger I. I'd love to see if he got the road wheels properly replicated - the "Tiger" in Saving Private Ryan was built on a T-34 chassis and was well... lame. The only war movie I've seen w/ properly depicted tanks was "Iron Cross" in the 70's which used actual T-34 even though it was a T-34/85 which did not see service until 1944 and the movie was set in late '43 during the retreat from Kerch.

  • 420 what? (Score:4, Funny)

    by starglider29a (719559) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:41PM (#22991176)
    i see the "420" on the turret. i wonder if that's Hitler's Birthday, or something else?

    I've heard of "shotgunning", but that's ridiculous!!!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Sangui (1128165)
      He enjoys his reefer.
    • It's a code for marijuana used by people who think it's still cool or relevant.

      The other main use is in Craigslist prostitute ads to let potential Johns know that they are "420 friendly".

  • Tailgaters? (Score:5, Funny)

    by grassy_knoll (412409) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:41PM (#22991182) Homepage
    With a top speed of 20MPH, he must get a lot of tailgaters...

    well, not the same tailgater twice with that cannon...
  • by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:42PM (#22991186) Homepage Journal
    And now all the bullies that took this geek's lunch money as a kid will run in fear - as the geek now has a tank.
  • by usul294 (1163169) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:42PM (#22991194)
    This guy's been doing things like that for awhile. He and I went to the same high school for 2 years. He loved making stuff by hand and engineering things. He had this humongous truck, probably bigger than that tank that he constantly added stuff to. Will liked to bounce some of his crazy ideas off of us, potato guns and the like. Alot of crazy prank ideas too. I'm glad to see that he's still at it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Redbaran (918344)

      Will liked to bounce some of his crazy ideas off of us, potato guns and the like.
      Tell me, did it hurt when he bounced that crazy potato gun idea off you?
  • Awww (Score:4, Funny)

    by Translation Error (1176675) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:49PM (#22991310)
    It's adorable. Does he call it Bonaparte?
    • by pragma_x (644215)
      Captain: Where the hell are your mod points, private?! Damn beauracrat mods must have wandered out into the bacterial fog without their facemasks again. They wouldn't be able to get a damn thing done on this site if it weren't for us and our tanks standing between them and the trolls.

      This repair bay looks like hell, clean it up already.
    • by Yvan256 (722131)
      Man that thing is waaaaaay to large and way too short to ressemble anything close to Bonaparte. ;)

      If you do find someone making a Bonaparte-alike tank in real life, though, send me a link.

  • My bet (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:56PM (#22991408)
    Dick cheney will buy it and use it for duck hunting with a bunch of dems.
    • by jtev (133871)
      He was hunting QUAIL, get it right. I mean, yeah, that would be one hell of a mobile duck blind, especially if you pulled off the air-gun and repalced it with either a punt-gun or an organ gun, but if Cheny were hunting ducks, then he wouldn't have had to worry about the friend getting in his line of fire. With waterfowl there is no stalking or spooking, you just sit in your blind, and wait for them to fly in.
  • by AioKits (1235070) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:59PM (#22991430)
    You thought you looked awesome in that golf shirt and pimped out golf cart on the back nine? Wait till your friends see how you roll with a mini panzer!

    Mind if I play through? *adjusts turret* Of course you don't.
  • paintball! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:00PM (#22991444)
    In case you didn't catch it, he built it all for paintball! THAT'S AWESOME! For $2000 total that's not bad if someone were to built another one. Although call me crazy but with gas prices, I'd wanna build a more fuel efficient pod racer instead lol. Btw I love where he says all you gotta do is put a slow moving vehicle sign on it or an orange triangle and it's technically a tractor.
  • by MiniMike (234881) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:02PM (#22991458)
    I would not consider this project complete until he finds a German midget to drive it...
  • by dick johnson (660154) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:03PM (#22991476)
    This kid has a gold mine at his hands!

    If he could mass produce this and modify the cannon a bit, he has the makings of the ultimate Paintball game.

    The heck with these light-infantry paint ball games! I wanna be Patton!
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:04PM (#22991480)
    Just wait until someone builds a half-scale anti-tank missile.
  • If he was really doing it properly he'd have made a Panzer Bike instead...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvDrQVkZBTA [youtube.com]

     
  • by waspleg (316038)
    no I didn't rtfa, but what *real* college student has $10k sitting around to spend on ANYTHING.

    seriously.

  • 1. How noisy it is in there with a running diesel engine nearby and plywood shell?

    2. Is it tough enough go off-road?
  • Alvis Scorpion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:35PM (#22991844)
    If you want armor that is stronger than plywood and a little more performance, consider an Alvis Scorpion. Available in street legal form, max speed 45mph, and with the governor removed can achieve over 70. The interior space is limited, it's a bit noisy, but you could use it to shunt a Hummer until it fitted into a pickup, and would probably only need to touch up the paint a bit.

    BTW can anybody tell me the actual engine (and gearbox) used on the Kettering version?

  • by honestmonkey (819408) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:39PM (#22991884) Journal
    The first thing I thought of when seeing him climb out of it, is that he needs to put in a car alarm. I was half-expecting it at one point. Drive up in a tank, climb out, point the remote at it and "Bee-boop".

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