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Dinotrack
The only thing worse than a hungry meat-eating dinosaur on your tail is one with a tank.
About this creation
Please feel free to look over the images and skip the verbiage.

Everybody seems to have a theory as to why the dinosaurs went extinct -- asteroid impact in the Yucatan, apocalyptic volcanic outburst in India, smoking, drinking, high-fructose corn syrup, gluten-free snacks, late for the Ark.

But recent digs have uncovered the real reason: Towards the end of the dinosaurs' reign, the smartest meat-eaters developed the "Dinotrack" and with it, the ability to run down the fastest of prey over any terrain and bring it down at a distance.



As Dinotracks proliferated and prey species vanished, the mechanized carnivores increasingly turned on each other. Still, they might have survived but for one fatal flaw: A bird-like devotion to flamboyant colors.



The concept of camouflage went right past them, but the fire their colors drew from other Dinotracks not so much, and soon all the dinosaurs were gone for good. (Very good if you ask me.)

Paleontologists have now reconstructed a working Dinotrack from remains discovered on the banks of the Rio Grande River during excavation for the Great Wall of Trump.



As you can see, the Dinotrack isn't just a LEGO® model. It's a rough-and-tumble remote control (RC) toy with gobs of play value -- especially outdoors.

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Starting point: 42065

When renowned Technic builder Sariel gives a LEGO® set an unusually favorable review, you pay attention. And so it was with the 2017 RC Tracked Racer set (42065)...



Out of the box, 42065 is a promising little remote control tracked platform with some sleek bodywork on top.

To make the Dinotrack, I ditched the bodywork, re-engineered the chassis, installed a much better battery and remote control system and higher-torque drive motors, put lugs on the tracks for better traction, and then put my own stuff on top.



Since the set hadn't been released in the US at the time, I started by building my own version of the 42065 chassis using the official online instructions as a guide.

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Dinotrack

The Dinotrack takes stock 42065 performance and play value to a much higher level in almost every way. The outdoor play value is my favorite part, and the video show some reasons why -- if you can see through my bad driving.



In appearance and back story, the Dinotrack and Tracked Racer are worlds apart. I ended up replacing most of the set's critical elements, but my debt to the basic 42065 chassis and drivetrain layout is unmistakable. Something between a MOD and an MOC, perhaps?



Some of the electrical and mechanical changes here are also found in other 42065 MODs (e.g., here and here), but I came up with all mods here on my own.



Compared to the stock Tracked Racer, the Dinotrack has...
  • Less mass by 9% (546 g vs. 599 g for the stock Tracked Racer)
  • Much more speed (except perhaps on hard flooring)
  • Much more maneuverability and control
  • Much more torque and traction for hill climbing and obstacle negotiation
  • Longer battery life and simpler charging
  • Much more damage resistance



  • ∨ Outfit: The set's original bodywork looks pretty cool, but I was after maximum play value and a fun back story, and that led in a different direction...



    The only thing worse than a hungry meat-eating dinosaur on your tail is one with a tank. Getting caught is pretty bad, too.

    Rex was a harmless neurotic in Toy Story 3, but that's a maniacal grin if ever I saw one!





    I guess you can overcome a lot of insecurities with a tank.







    ∨ Battery: Replacing the original AA battery box with a PF rechargeable LiPo was a no-brainer. It saved well over 100 g, freed up a lot of room, prolonged battery life, simplified charging, increased available current, and moved the center of mass (CM) forward and down.



    The CM shift generally improved climbing ability, but the Dinotrack still flips over on its back on step-like obstacles more than ~80 mm high.



    A convenient red button on the rear bumper toggles the LiPo.





    Removing the starboard battery clamp (a 10 sec job) allows the LiPo to be charged in place.











    Remote control: The original set used PF remote control with a 3-state (full forward, off, full reverse) IR handset (8885). RC range and responsiveness were poor, IR interference from sunlight frustrated outdoor play, and accurate steering was a real test of skill.



    But a Bluetooth-based SBrick receiver fixed all that. RC range went from 4 to 15 m, and sunlight and latency became non-issues.



    The custom Android phone joystick seen here with my R-kart provided the fine, proportional independent track control needed to drive the Dinotrack well.



    Motors: The speed delivered by the original twin M motors was entertaining enough on hard flooring and smooth, flat pavement but suffered on uneven or rough ground, uphill, and on soft surfaces like carpet and grass. More torque at the drive sprockets was clearly in order.





    Replacing the twin Ms with twin Ls in the same locations turned out to be pretty easy, and it tripled mechanical power (1.5 vs 4.3 W) and stalled torque (0.18 vs. 0.52 N m) at the motor shafts with no change in no-load shaft speed (~312 RPM at 7.4V). The battery swap offset the added motor mass (~26 g total) several times over.





    Front and rear L motors from below. As in the Tracked Racer, the motors turn the drive sprocket axles directly. It'd be interesting to add some gearing to try other final drive ratios, but the direct drive (1:1) torque/speed curve works pretty darn well -- especially outdoors.

    The L motors markedly improved performance on slopes, on soft surfaces, and over rough terrain. They may have added a little top speed on hard flooring as well.



    Chassis: The stock 42065 frame liked to twist on uneven ground, and its weakly attached cross-members allowed the longitudinal frame rails to spread with time -- especially up front. Worse yet, the M motors were supported only at their output ends and tended to loosen and sag with time. The result: Less mechanical power and torque delivered to the drive sprockets.

    To reduce these losses, I stiffened the frame -- especially the cross-members and their attachments -- and beefed up the motor mounts to keep the motors aligned with their drive sprocket axles. The many pin holes on the L motor casings were a great help here.



    While I was at it, I added some road and return wheel axle support.



    The original chassis had no suspension, and my testing in rough terrain showed no reason to add any.







    Traction: After all the mods above, the Dinotrack was still traction-limited, meaning that its hard plastic treads lost traction on obstacles and slopes long before the L motors gave up. Slipping and sliding on smooth hard floors was also a problem.



    The bare tracks couldn't even climb the most gradual part of this rough sandstone slope (~25°) for lack of grip.



    But red rubber lugs (14149) on every link changed all that. Now the Dinotrack can almost climb the uppermost 55° slope, and step-like obstacles up to 80 mm high are easily surmounted.



    Now that the Dinotrack is torque- rather than traction-limited, the L motors can really shine. If the lugs came with a speed penalty, I haven't noticed, and the battery change alone more than offset the extra 19 g.



    ∨ Latest changes: Red sprocket hubs and black stops to keep the lime side panels properly aligned.





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    Play notes

    The video pretty much says it all, but a few final points...

    The Dinotrack is pretty tough as LEGO® vehicles go. Many times during the video, it rolled over backwards or sideways or got stuck on its side, snagged in a plant, or high-centered.

    Yet, it seldom needed divine intervention and lost only 4 components in the process -- the canopy and a grille tile from the SBrick cover once, and Rex and the whip antenna several times.



    The L motor casings get pretty scratched up on rocks, but the battery's been spared so far.



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    Specifications

    Overall dimensions:206x170x146 mm (LxWxH)
    Mass:546 g
    Crew:Driver only
    Armaments:Single front-mounted death ray
    Electrical power:9V PF Li polymer rechargeable battery
    Remote control receiver:Bluetooth-based SBrick
    Remote control interface:Custom single-joystick profile on Android phone
    Propulsion:Twin L motors
    Drive train:Direct drive (1 motor per track)
    Tracks:Lugged for traction
    Steering:Differential drive
    Stalled torque at drive sprockets:~0.52 N m at 7.4V
    Installed mechanical power:4.3 W
    Power to mass ratio:7.9 W/kg
    Top speed:Unknown but faster than most of my MOCs
    Maximum slope:~50° (traction-limited)
    Maximum obstacle height:~100 mm (overturn-limited)
    Modified LEGO® parts:None
    Non-LEGO® parts:None
    Credits:Original MOC based on a heavily modified 42065 chassis
    See also:Little Black Tank, Trackrat, Advanced PackBot (APB), Polar research vehicle

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    Comments

     I made it 
      August 24, 2017
    Quoting Nick Barrett Well, now we know. It sure looks like they had fun on the way out of the exit door. It's sometimes surprising what Lego skimp on in some of their sets... supporting a motor at only one end! Tsk, tsk.
    Live by the Dinotrack, die by the Dinotrack, I always say! Why TLG didn't put twin Ls in 42065 to begin with is beyond me. Sure, it would have added a few bucks, but play value would have gone way up, and motor support, too.
     I like it 
      August 24, 2017
    Well, now we know. It sure looks like they had fun on the way out of the exit door. It's sometimes surprising what Lego skimp on in some of their sets... supporting a motor at only one end! Tsk, tsk.
     I made it 
      August 23, 2017
    Quoting Gabor Pauler I see you got the infection from me mixing up political and social writings with MOCs. Nice analysis on weaknesses of PF components. Had TLG not been a monopolistic dynosaurus itself, they were to buy out the SBrick startup company in 5 minutes. Instead of it, they are drifting towards being Barbie-doll manufacturer Nr. 2.
    Yes, back stories are fun, and science and politics provide lots of material lately -- especially the latter. I keep hoping that TLG will come up with better electricals, but they're so focused on franchise sets right now that I don't think it will be any time soon. However, the catering to girls is long overdue. It's not their fault that girls want all the wrong things. ;^}
     I like it 
      August 23, 2017
    I see you got the infection from me mixing up political and social writings with MOCs. Nice analysis on weaknesses of PF components. Had TLG not been a monopolistic dynosaurus itself, they were to buy out the SBrick startup company in 5 minutes. Instead of it, they are drifting towards being Barbie-doll manufacturer Nr. 2.
     I made it 
      August 22, 2017
    Quoting Cheesy Q . Form, function, and humor? they don't get better than this!
    Too kind, Cheesy! Glad you liked the back story.
     I like it 
      August 22, 2017
    Form, function, and humor? they don't get better than this!
     I made it 
      August 22, 2017
    Quoting Angelo Filipelli Cool idea and good modification! Not that long ago I built a motorized crawler out of the large 2015 blue crane and with a few L motors. It actually worked quite well besides the few times it would break down when the track rollers went out of alignment. I built a cabin for it and mounted a cannon on it to make a tank. It was pretty neat but I had scrapped it after I needed the motors for a boat. I also have that Rex figure but I have no idea where his tail is.
    Thanks, Angelo! I've raided many a land vehicle for boat motors, but I think this one will be safe for a good long while.
     I like it 
      August 22, 2017
    Cool idea and good modification! Not that long ago I built a motorized crawler out of the large 2015 blue crane and with a few L motors. It actually worked quite well besides the few times it would break down when the track rollers went out of alignment. I built a cabin for it and mounted a cannon on it to make a tank. It was pretty neat but I had scrapped it after I needed the motors for a boat. I also have that Rex figure but I have no idea where his tail is.
     I made it 
      August 22, 2017
    Quoting Oliver Becker Admiring your unexpected paleontologic knowledge I have to acclaim you for rebuilding this iconic vehicle from primeval times, my friend! Now I guess how many VIPs and wh1ppersnapp3r will kick off their Hummers to get a Dinotrack machine! LOL Sorrowly in Germany we only have Dinocars... ;) (These are gocarts/pedal cars for kids...)
    Many thanks, Oliver! You =only= have Dinocars?? Are you kidding?? I would have killed for a Dinocar when I was a kid. (I'm not completely over it, but now I'd only maim.) Oh, no! A world full of Dinotracks sounds like a really, really bad idea -- with or without the dinosaurs.
     I made it 
      August 22, 2017
    Quoting Henrik Jensen Very funny and entertaining post! Why not sign it up for the next Toy Story movie! :-)
    Thanks, Henrik! My agent will be on the phone with Pixar tomorrow! Maybe I'll pitch it as a Jurassic World sequel, too. It'd have to become Latest Cretaceous World, but anything's possible with the magic of cinema!
     I like it 
      August 22, 2017
    Admiring your unexpected paleontologic knowledge I have to acclaim you for rebuilding this iconic vehicle from primeval times, my friend! Now I guess how many VIPs and wh1ppersnapp3r will kick off their Hummers to get a Dinotrack machine! LOL Sorrowly in Germany we only have Dinocars... ;) (These are gocarts/pedal cars for kids...)
     I like it 
      August 22, 2017
    Very funny and entertaining post! Why not sign it up for the next Toy Story movie! :-)
     I made it 
      August 22, 2017
    Quoting Walter Lee Amaaazing moc! However, I would have add lights for night time dino hunting! ;-)
    Thanks, Walter! Man, didn't even think about lights! Paleontologists think that those white dish thingies on top somehow helped with the night hunting, but seeing things with your own 2 eyes never hurts! If the dish thingies weren't lights of some kind, the pilot would need a heads-up display to visualize in some way what the sensors are seeing just to drive. To pull that off, the dinosaurs would have to have been at least as smart as we are. A low bar by intergalactic standards, I know. But if they really were that smart, and they were still around somehow, we'd be the extinct ones. Hooray asteroids!
     I made it 
      August 22, 2017
    Quoting High Emerpor Duckie Lol, that is awesome! Great work!
    Praise from an Emperor is an honor I'll cherish forever, Sire!
     I made it 
      August 22, 2017
    Quoting Johan van der Pluijm Great machine! Cant find those tracks here in the Netherlands, maybe in Sofia..
    Thanks, Johan! Unfortunately, the track links and lugs are pricey on BrickLink. I used 37 x 2 = 74 of each here. The good news: 42065 comes with all the links.
     I made it 
      August 22, 2017
    Quoting Sven ;o) Yes, it's a fine vehicle with lots of nice details :) Your description is awesome as usual my friend! Well done!
    Very kind, Sven! My favorite part is the outdoor play value. Nothing I've ever built comes close.
     I made it 
      August 22, 2017
    Quoting Seaman SPb Cool!
    Thanks, Seaman!
     I like it 
      August 22, 2017
    Amaaazing moc! However, I would have add lights for night time dino hunting! ;-)
     I like it 
      August 22, 2017
    Lol, that is awesome! Great work!
     I like it 
      August 22, 2017
    Great machine! Cant find those tracks here in the Netherlands, maybe in Sofia..
     I like it 
      August 22, 2017
    Yes, it's a fine vehicle with lots of nice details :) Your description is awesome as usual my friend! Well done!
     I like it 
      August 21, 2017
    Cool!
     
    By Jeremy McCreary
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