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The Open Panzer Project

The Open Panzer project is an attempt to design professional, open source electronics for use in RC tanks and other military models.

RC tanking is one of the most fascinating corners of the RC hobby today, but also one of the smallest and slowest-growing. It is our hope that making open-source hardware and software available will be instrumental in expanding the hobby and improving the experience for everyone.

Open Source is about freedom and choice. It means harnessing the power of the community to make something better than any individual could by themselves. It means design by and for the user, rather than design for profit. Best of all, Open Source means no dead-ends. Knowledge doesn't end when someone leaves the hobby, but is kept alive for others to build upon.

Our first design is called simply the TCB (tank control board). This controller is unlike anything you have ever seen before. In fact, we believe it is the most powerful and flexible controller ever designed for RC tanking. But if you think it can be improved, that doesn't hurt our feelings! We want you to change it. The design is completely open to anyone.

The full list of features would take many pages, which is why we've written an entire Wiki! But here are some of the highlights that set it apart:

  • Easy Configuration: The TCB has an unprecedented wealth of options to tailor every aspect of your tank's behavior, but don't worry: configuration is a cinch with the Windows desktop program we call OP Config. And you don't need any special cables either: the TCB uses standard USB cables for programming. Or you can even talk to it wirelessly over Bluetooth! (requires a separate Bluetooth module)
  • Complete Control: No longer do you have to be a Ninja master and memorize special transmitter stick combos to control your model - with the TCB you can quickly and easily assign any function to any position of any channel. Functions include the usual actions like starting the engine or firing the cannon, but also advanced features like modifying deceleration characteristics on the fly, disengaging the transmission, or controlling auxiliary outputs. And with the ability to read up to 16 channels, the TCB is compatible with today's most sophisticated radios.
  • Adaptable: Unlike nearly every other tank controller available today, the TCB is designed to work with a wide range of external speed controls. This is actually what every other segment of the RC hobby has always done, and it has significant advantages: now the same control board can run anything from 1/24 to 1/6 scale models and larger. While this does require the purchase of an external speed control(s), the TCB has been specifically designed to work with dual-motor serial controllers perfectly suited to RC tanks, while also being compatible with all standard brushed or brushless hobby ESCs. And in 1/16th scale or smaller, the TCB can directly power turret motors, airsoft or mechanical recoils, smoker, and several servos (including for recoil), but even among all these multiple choices exist for special setups. In fact, the hardware options are nearly limitless!
  • Compatible: The TCB can control virtually all popular tank accessories. Tamiya turret motors, mechanical recoil units, and IR components are plug-and-play with with adapter cables, no modifications required. Heng-Long and Taigen products require minor re-wiring but we have tutorials for all them, including videos.
  • Documented: Our Wiki has a wealth of information on the TCB and RC tank electronics generally. And if you still can't find what you're looking for, ask a question in our Forum!
  • No Insanity: No jumpers to lose or remember. And for sure no programming with your TV remote.
  • All the Things You Expect: Servo recoil? Servo barrel elevation? Compatibility with any and all existing IR protocols including repair? Second machine gun? Low voltage cut-off? You bet! In fact, we can do even better:
  • …And Some You Didn't: Want your smoker to change idle speed whether the transmission is engaged or not? Want to control an external relay or motor, update settings without attaching a cable or opening your model, or use continuous rotation servos as drive motors in your 1/24 scale model? Yeah, the TCB can do that too.