Build a Low-Cost Smartphone Based Robot Tank Using the EMGRobotics Audio Dual Motor Controller Board (ADMCB)

This project can be built for around $50.00.

The EMGRobotics Smartphone Tank roams your desk using computer vision software running on your phone

The Smartphone based robot tank is s great project to build with your kids.  The project can be completed within an hour and requires no soldering or special tools.  When complete, simply download and install the EMGRobotics Audio Robot application on your phone.  The application will use the camera in your phone and various computer vision algorithms to roam around looking for a face or a specific color.  The robot can also follow a line or chase other robots around the room.  Currently only an Android application is available but an iPhone application is in the works.

Actually, any device that can create tones can be used to control the robot.  The EMGRobotics Audio Dual Motor Controller Board (ADMCB) board uses simple tones to tell the robot to go forward, backward, turn left or turn right.  

The tank is a kit you can buy from Radio Shack.  The tank kit is very easy to build requiring only some glue.  from the store, the tank kit is remote controlled.  This hack will replace the controller board that comes in the kit with an ADMCB from  Then you add your own smartphone with the EMGRobotics Audio Robot app installed and the fun begins.

Tools and parts needed to build the robot

The over-the-door hook and super glue were purchased at Home Depot.

You will also need some pieces of double sided tape and velcro.

You can purchase them on-line here.

The tank RC tank is available from Radio Shack for $27.99

Remove the pieces shown above from the RC tank box.  The tank chassis, six wheels, six metal axles, tank treads, plastic top and battery holder (not pictured) are the only pieces of the tank required for this project.

The Super Glue is required to glue the wheels to the drive axles and the idler axles to the tank.  Without the glue, the wheels will fall off easily.  The wheels are glued directly to the plastic axles.  Be careful not to get any glue into the gearbox of the axle.  The wheel must turn easily after gluing.  The other four wheels use metal axles.  For these, glue the metal axle to the tank.

Be VERY careful that the glue does NOT bind the pink axle to the yellow gearbox.  The goal is to glue the wheel to the pink axle.

For the other four wheels, you need to glue the metal axle to the tank.  Put a few dabs of glue into the holes on the tank chassis.  Put the long metal axles through the wheel and into the hole of the tank chassis.

Note the half wheel goes into the center hole on the chassis.

Note the metal shafts on the two right wheels.

The RC tank PC board holder must be cut off using the wire cutters as shown in the images above.  This will make room for the EMGRobotics Audio Dual Motor Controller Board (ADMCB).

Find the battery holder in the RC tank box.  The battery holder simply pushes into the chassis.  Be sure the battery holder is oriented (black wire location) as shown above.  After mounting the battery holder, the wires battery and motor wires must be cut to length.  Cut the wires to length per the image above.  Note, in the above image, the wire cutter is about to cut 3 wires: the black battery wire, the right red motor wire, and the right blue motor wire.  After cutting the wires, strip some insulation off the end of the wire (about 1/4 of an inch ).

These wires have been cut to the proper length.  Note the top set of wires: red from battery holder, red from left motor, blue from left motor.  Not the bottom set of wires: black from battery holder, red from right motor, blue from right motor.

You can order the EMGRobotics Audio Dual Motor Controller Board (ADMCB) from

Strip the end of the wires as shown.

After the ADMCB has been connected, the top of the robot tank must "drilled" to make a hole big enough for the headphone connector to pass through.   I HIGHLY RECOMMEND USING A DRILL INSTEAD OF A KNIFE.  A 3/8th of an inch drill bit should be used.


The smartphone is held on the robot using a modified "over the door" hanger and some double sided tape.  The hanger is modified by scoring it and snapping it about 3 inches from the end (see image further down).

Put the "soft" pieces of velcro on the back of your phone. 

Click here to download the Android Color Object Tracking Software f...


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