So you want to build tanks/treads. Here's a quick primer: My treads are made from hinges, linked together using half-placement, they are very susceptible to snapping apart if you're not careful. Weight, wheel speed, and the friction caused by tread braces are all factors in linkage breaks. Constructing tanks can be tedious, annoying and sometimes an exercise in futility. If you're cool with that, read on.
Before we start laying treads, you should understand Half-Placement. It is a technique I accidentally learned about while experimenting with chaos engines. It is the process of shifting over the construction space by half of a block space using (powered/unpowered) wheels. At the end of the video, I compare the length of the two wooden block rows. You can plainly see they don't line up. This is what you want.
Laying the Treads Edit
Okay, we're ready to start laying the treads. They are made out of linked hinges and half-placement needs to be utilized to get the treads close to the wheels and connect them at a 90-degree angle along the corners of the layout. We'll start with the horizontal treads in Laying the Treads Part 1.
And now onto the vertical tracks in the Laying the Treads Part 2.
Repeat the process for the other horizontal and vertical sections. I usually place my treads for both sides to be facing in the same direction since I've noticed this can affect how well the treads operate so be sure to check what direction the hinges are going. Its easy to not notice until you've laid both treads.
A little tip: you can "transfer" the block placement to the other side of the axle just by adding blocks from either the horizontal or vertical sections to the other side of the axle. This will save you some time during construction.
Placing wide metal plates on the ends on the treads will allow for more surface area to be taken up by the treads, protecting them somewhat from separating.
The Axle Edit
The Axle is an integral part to tank treads. Reason being, attaching pistons to the wheels allows for the wheels to be pushed into place within the treads. In the example video, you can see the effect they have on the mobility of the vehicle. The pistons also provide suspension when extended. Be sure to enable toggle mode on the pistons so you don't have to hold the hot-key indefinitely.
Wheels, Cogs, and Ballasts Edit
Wheels are both necessary and the bane of treads at the same time. The force they exert on the edges of the hinges causes separation issues. However, they do provide smoother operation over the more jittery usage of cogs. When placing wheels, I stack a powered wheel and an unpowered wheel. I use the powered wheel on the inside of the tread and an unpowered wheel on the outside. The powered wheel is set according to over-all weight of the machine, for a good metric in a 12-wheeled design seen in the axle video, I set the wheels at 1.50 each. The unpowered wheel is placed to fully support the tread since it takes up an entire block space.
Cogs can be more practical to maintain tread linkage, but because of way they exert force on the treads, the entire vehicle becomes jittery and a little unstable. For this reason, I personally don't recommend their usage, but of course feel free to experiment as I have only gone so far with cog layouts.
Ballasts, when attached to a swivel hinge, can be used as smaller wheels for the tracks itself. The reason why swivel joints are needed is that ballasts cannot turn by itself as it acts similarly to wooden blocks. For bracing these types of wheels, see the Tread Bracing section of this article.
Set the wheels on each side of the vehicle to the same direction. I like using the number pad for this reason. I bind the left side forward and backwards directions to be 7 and 1 and the right side to be 9 and 3. To turn press forward on one side and back on the other. This is how a real tracked vehicle generally functions.
Tread Bracing Edit
Turning is tough on the treads. You'll have slippages and blow-outs consistently without bracing the treads on both the inside (on the carriage) and the outside. There's several different solutions and as far as their effectiveness over each-other, I really can't say since treads are inherently chaotic as far as the physics that govern them are concerned (just like everything else). All I can say is what has worked for me.
Your real goal is here to guide the treads in the most fluid way possible and avoid causing the treads to catch on the braces themselves and eventually separate due to lateral friction.
In the following videos, I show two examples of outer tread bracing that should help you. By no means are these the limit to what can be done.
External Bracing Method One Edit
The video showing Method 1 for outer tread bracing is about as simple as you can get for tread bracing. The ballast blocks guide the treads over a some-what rounded surface which helps prevent friction. Using a cube block to brace will cause the treads to catch on the edge of the block and cause more tread blow-outs.
External Bracing Method Two Edit
The video showing Method 2 is a bit more complicated because it uses 3 different half-placement movement but I personally like it better since it seems to feature more flexibility as track guides.
Internal Bracing Edit
On the inside of the treads, I usually just place minimal weight ballasts along where the wheels are connected on the top and bottom and front and back of the axle. Method 2 doesn't fit with the axle design featured in the videos. But with a different axle design, I'm sure that method 2 could be applied to the inside of the tracks as well.
Large Wheels, Large Cogs, and Swivel Joints Edit
Large wheels, usually unpowered, can be used as a way to brace the tracks. It is recommended that they are placed on the outer side of the tracked vehicles as they take quite a bit of space when placed in the insides. However, due to their large size, they can cover a significant amount of space on the curved regions of the tracks
Large cogs can be an alternative to using large wheels as they, like large wheels, can cover massive space on the curved regions of the tracks. However, it is recommended to place armor plating on the tracks as the cogs, hence their name, are so large that the treads cannot even touch the ground.
Swivel joints are used as a support on the insides of the tracked vehicle should the treads fall "into" the vehicle. The swivel joints are usually placed on the frontal and back regions of the treads, or the curved regions of the tracks. The swivel joints promote smoother track movement while keeping the treads in. Ballasts can be used, too.
- It is heavily advised to use braces on the these types of track braces as they may have a chance of falling off.