21st Century M5 Stuart RC Tank Conversions
Updated
May 2009
 
Want to inexpensively interface a standard
RC radio system to your 27 or 49mhz Stuart?
What other goodies are there for
the Stuart?
 

As of January 2010 parts and modifications for the STUART RC Tank are no longer available.

 

The OD Stuart Conversion (SOLD)

The Winter Camo Stuart Conversion
(SOLD)

The "Jungle Fever" Conversion
(SOLD)

Winter Camo II Stuart Conversion
(SOLD)

My first tank combat project was conversion of an Olive Drab model of the Ultimate Soldier 1/6th Scale Stuart Light Tank. The RC Stuart tank is made in China and imported by 21st Century Toys. Wal-Mart carried the tanks during Christmas '03 (~$148) and we'll see if they continue to do so. The nice thing about this conversion is a lot of work is already done for you in terms of the drive system, turret rotate, even sound effects!

 
 


Movie of the M5 replica pulling the kids

1Mb Windows Media File

A real M5 Stuart
 
 

 

 

 

Conversion of the Ultimate Soldier M5

My conversion consisted of installing a .40 caliber paintball marker in the Stuart's turret with a couple of servos, one to fire the marker and one to elevate and depress the marker in relation to the turret.

Movie of the Stuart firing the marker
2Mb Windows Media File

Initially I decided to figure out a way to interface a PIC microcontroller to the existing Stuart receiver to use the existing onboard electronics and retain the cool sound effects. This route is inexpensive and is detailed in Stage 2 below.

After figuring out the microcontroller to use the existing radio, I decided to install a full-blown 5 channel RC system for greater range and functionality. I developed my own PIC based skid-steer mixer and interfaced it to the existing Stuart electronics. Check out the Stage 3 below for details.

No serious special tools are required to do this conversion although there are some things that will make life easier. A Dremel tool is indespensible for this sort of work. The plastic inside the turret needs to be gutted and a Dremel tool makes short work of it. There is some drilling and tapping necessary so a small bench drill press is helpful although you could get away with a hand drill if you're careful. A belt sander is also very useful.

You do need to be good with soldering and basic electronics to attempt this conversion yourself.

I used 1-1/2" aluminum angle to mount the servos and make the pivots for the gun. Other material (plastic, wood, etc.) could be used instead. I had a whole assortment of socket head machine screws around the shop although regular machine screws could be used. The stock paintball marker uses 10-32 screws so I used 10-32 socket heads for the pivots.

The Stuart is easy to disassemble. On the bottom of the tank are two access doors with screws that need to be removed. Then, remove all screws underneath the chassis to separate the top of the hull. Be careful to disconnect the wires coming from the turret and battery from the drive control board. Here are pics of the Stuart internals. Remove the four screws holding the ring gear to the base of the turret and the turret can be easily removed.

Let's get convertin'...

Stage 1 - Installing the Paintball Marker
Stage 2 - Rigging the Stock Electronics
Stage 3 - Rigging a new Radio & Mixer