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The Tank Bed – Part II

Some time after completing the Tank Bed and seeing the enjoyment it gave I decided to add a few upgrades. So I added a complete interactive computerised weapons system.


The main upgrade was the add a fully interactive weapons system. The main features of this are:


  • individual weapon sounds

  • voice weapon status reports


  • main gun firing light

  • flare


  • main gun control/fire panel

  • other weapons control panel

  • main gun shell selection: HE, HEAT, APDS, ATM

  • machine gun

  • smoke

  • flare

How I Made It

I wanted a number of buttons and selectors for input with light and sound output. I used a Raspberry Pi (model A), a bunch of LEDs for indicators plus a 10w LED for the flare and a short length of red LED tape for the main gun. TankBed Smoke I also used a few momentary push switched and a rotating 4 way selector switch. An old speaker and some old aluminium enclosures.

I also used some old waste pipe to make the smoke launcher for the side of the turret.

Everything was powered from a 12v supply taken, via and old curly phone cable, from the power control panel in the tank body to the turret. This still allowed free rotation of the turret.

Control Panels

Panel design and finished products:

TankBed Panel TankBed Panel TankBed Panel


I used the standard 2015-02-18-wheezy-minibian.img image for the RPi OS and wrote the weapon control software in C++.

The software is basically just a state machine. However, each weapon has it’s own properties in terms of reload time, sound and external controls (output pins). The main gun behaviour is also dependent upon the shell that is selected (and loaded). TankBed Flare Each shell type has it’s own firing sound and the ATM, being a guided missile, has a 2 stage firing procedure whereby you much acquire and lock onto the target first before firing. I also introduced a little more realism into the system by allowing the ATM to lose the target lock sometimes.

In addition to each weapon having it’s own sound, the main gun firing activated the red LED tape lights installed near the end of the barrel. The flare also activated the 10w LED that I housed within one of the smoke launcher tubes. This illuminated the sky to simulate a flare going up.


Ice made a short video to demonstrate the weapons capabilities:

TabkBed The Tank Bed was built in 2014, upgraded in 2015. It’s now 3 years on and it’s still going strong and delivering entertainment and a good nights sleep!


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