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T3 Spy/Assault - Vehicle

by Randy Coolbaugh


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"Once upon a time...", the story of this outrageous vehicle could have started like this. In January 1996 an article has been published in the Radio Control Car Action Magazine (RCCA), in which Randy introduced his "Terminator 3" to the bedazzled readership. The RCCA asked their readers at that time: "ARE YOU READY for something a little different? How 'bout a whole lot different?", and did not exaggerate. Randy has put one of the most unconventional, but well-devised, creations on its wheels. Blueprints go back to the year of 1989. Randy wanted to build a fully functional, scale, Spy/Assault-Vehicle, that could be controlled without visual contact between car and driver. He wanted to incorporate such ambitious features like a working flamethrower and rocketlauncher, proximity alert and a pinpoint listening device in this model. After one month of planning Randy had completed a really promising sketch, and he was determined to realize it. All that was missing was a suitable chassis, capable to carry his construction. Randy soon came to the decision that the Bruiser was the right chassis, but he couldn't find one at that time. A Cousin finally ceded his Bruiser to him.

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T3 started from a heavily modified bruiser chassis. First, the stock motor was fitted with a copper cooling coil, with a belt driven two-gear coolant pump. The heated coolant is pumped to an aluminum radiator with a thermostatically controlled electric fan; also on the motor there is a built driven fan and a functioning alternator.

The stock and very stiff slipper clutch was replaced with an altered team losi hydra drive fluid torque converter.


Left picture: The motor compartment of the T3. Clearly visible the motor fan, some secondary units and the mounted RAM-Lights


The rear axle was equipped with an electrically actuated disk brake on the drive shaft yoke and a scratch built differential. This is the weakest point in the drive chain. I had to use very small gears in order to fit the unit inside the stock axle housing. Both axles had additional leaves added, for 8 in the rear and 5 in front, torque arms, and pan hard links and centi-lever shock system.

The tires and rims had to be sealed and small valves were installed to hold air pressure, T-3 is fully ball bearing and weighs in at 30 pounds.


The body was designed crossing features of a HMMWV and a German half-track called GREIF. The body assembly is divided into 4 compartments, each separated by a 1/8" bulkhead.

The first compartment (under the glass) is the cockpit, housing all the switches, variable resistors, LED indicators, and the video camera and audio microphone. Under the console is the steering and shifting servos.

The second compartment holds the electronics. This would be identified by the small rectangular windows. Most of which have been reconstructed on integrated circuit boards. These consist of two four channel receivers, signal monitor, battery monitor, temperature sensor, light sensor, the onboard systems monitoring and warning circuits, and on top is the e.s.c. and radiator topped by an electric fan.

The third compartment (under the turret) holds the mechanical workings. Servos, for the turret, hydraulic master cylinder for the snowplow, rotor switch for the armament firing and flame thrower fuel pump and tank.

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Right picture: The bottom of the T3 with the impressing chassis. Note the motor with cooling coil, the sophisticated suspension and the disc brake on the rear drive shaft.

For an enlarged view click on the picture.


The rear compartment holds the a/v transmitter, relay board, tilt sensor, and on the outside the proximity sensor.

The turret has a rise of 8 degrees and a rotation of 90 degrees; it has a class 3A-laser sight. It can launch single estes A-3 rockets, or slide on a MRLS unit, and shoot "bottle" rockets. This unit was damaged last fall during testing when a rocket failed to launch and detonated in the tube. There is also a 4-inch parabolic microphone that attaches to the turret for pinpoint listening.

This truck is capable of being operated without visual contact with a range of up to 2000 feet. In stealth mode (no lights) you can see up to 8 feet in total darkness with infrared. All the monitoring circuits, battery, tilt, proximity, and signal are connected via optic links to a pizzo driver circuit which sends different audio tones back to the control unit to help identify possible problems.

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In the event of signal loss the monitoring circuit puts the transmission in neutral thus any RX interference cannot bring harm. Also, the system transmits a warning tone and activates a roof mounted locator beacon.

If you remember the article in RCCA January 1996 this was the T-3 before a small electrical fire. The new T-3 still has all the same features but with a few improvements and body alterations. Randy has yet to build the control unit; he is having too much fun tinkering with the truck.


Left picture: The T3 with mounted Plow, which can be moved hydraulically.

For an enlarged view click on the picture..


Right picture: The rear end of the T3 w/o sheetmetal. The truck is nearly bursting with all that electronics inside. A electrical layout plan for all this must drive an electrical engineer nuts.

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Technical data :


Tread f/r:

Left picture: The front half of the T3 w/o "armament". The impression of the built-in technique is coming to completion. Cleary visible the motor-tranny-unit with the secondary units.

All pictures are under the copyright of Randy Coolbaugh, NY, USA