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Hooben Leopard 1a5 review

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Hooben Leopard 1a5 review

Old 04-04-2023, 06:34 AM
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Default Hooben Leopard 1a5 review

I have received my Leopard 1a5 yesterday.
Packed extremely well as Hooben does. Everything was braced very well and nothing was damaged even though the very strong box took some hits.
I ordered an extra set of track so they cut a section out of the white foam to fit that in the box and keep it secure from floating around and breaking anything.
The only part that was off the tank and in the bottom of the box was the driver hatch which is not retained on the tank, it lifts off to be rotated open and can be taken off.
The turret hatches both open gently they are very tight fit and you dont want to be rough with them. The commander hatch lifts all the way out as well, it is not retained.

Hooben now supplies a TK26 radio control system. I havent gotten to drive it yet. I did power up the tank and test out the functions. The screen does nothing. It does not light up, it for fpv only. Figuring out the buttons was a bit tough to learn what did what. There is an instruction sheet included which labels all the ports on the MFU in the tank if you need to unplug stuff for service.

I powered it up and found the turret would not rotate all the way around, the gear would spin but the turret would stall half way around. I took the system apart a couple times and fiddled with it and somehow seem to have solved the alignment issue with the turret and the rotation motor gears so I got the turret to rotate normally without issue.

I operated the functions and the sound system had some great unique sounds but it has a junky speaker so its over driven and raspy.
There are a decent engine sound and throttle rev, two machine gun sounds, one operates the coax MG and the other does nothing, it sounds like a MaDuce .50, and then the main gun sound that operates the main gun. Its decent but has some extra sounds in the file and is a bit overkill in my opinion.

On the rear of the tank the tool box is magnetized and under it is the power switch, a plug to charge the battery if you use the HL type Lithium Ion battery, and a tube to fill the smoker up with.

Personally I do not have a use for smoke at all, I think it looks lame, and it just sucks your battery down fast so none of my tanks have smokers. I plan to remove this system as well. Especially since the smoker tubes all get in the way of getting the top of the tank back on properly.

Accessing the battery requires removing the 6 screws from the bottom of the tank. Its a pain to say the least. I have tested using just the two middle screws holding the tank together enough to drive and I suspect that will work. Thats why they include the charger cable built in but I dont use those batteries in my tanks. Well I do in my M5 Stuart because its tiny.

I ordered the metal control arms and sprocket upgrade. I scratched the back of one arm and verified that they are metal arms. I assume the sprocket is as well. This was a weak point on the merkava and I only resolved the 3d printed arms from breaking on that tank by modifying their 3d design and removing a nut cavity that was the weak spot causing the breaking. On this tank, with metal arms that will never be a problem. The upgrade was worth the charge for sure.

I confirmed the idler is adjustable. I can see the metal arm, its designed just like the HL tank idler adjusters.

The track is not the same width as Tamiya. I suspected that hooben copied tamiya while designing their tank but I think they did not. The track is narrower than the Tamiya track so the aftermarket metal track with rubber pads will not fit. I also do not think there is enough clearance to use a tamiya sprocket on the hooben even if it fit the shaft and had the proper backspacing. The sad part of the track is it has no pads. It is just like the metal tamiya track I have on my other leopard tanks after the rubber pads rip off.
Below I have a picture of the hooben track on a tamiya sprocket for comparison.

In test driving it on the bench I discovered that when you turn left or right, the turn signals automatically flash front and rear. Sadly if I scrap the TK26 I will loose that function.
In bench driving it, I found that as you turn, when the stick gets past a certain point in a linear turn curve, the inside track slows down, then reverses itself. That kind of algorithem is in the DK tank and I cant stand it becuase it creates a slow turn and as you get tighter it suddenly reverses that inside track and sends your tank into a violent super spin turn and you wind up facing the direction you just came from. Its a very terrible stupid algorithm. With a proper modern tank algorithm the inside track should slow down until the point that it stops but even then it would skid steer so you would have to be ready for it, a better way yet is for the outside track to speed up before the inside track would stop so you would have a continous curve not a violent change. Any way we will see how it drives when I get it on the field, maybe today.

To nitpick a couple things, The hull mounted lifting lugs front and rear are way too thick. About 3 times as thick as tamiya ones. That is the ones near the top on the back and the two on the front side glances of the glacis. Man I would love to break them off and sand them down because they attract my eyes and look horrible.
The canvas on the mantlet is amazing, it is held on the way the real one is with a loop and wire fasteners. I love it.

So far overall I am quite satisfied with the look feel and operation of the tank. Driving is just a function of the mfu which will get replaced because I cant battle right hand drive. I will put my ibu2 from my abrams in this tank and a battle system.
I think thats it for now













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Old 04-04-2023, 07:24 AM
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Thanks for the review, I have a particular weakness for cast hull Leopard 1s and you haven't helped to discourage me from forking over cash for one.

I am surprised though that you bought this after all the bull manure you got with your constantly-breaking Hooben Merkava.

You mentioned that you'd like the retain the turn signals and I think Tamiya and other manufacturers have you covered there with their lighting kits (p/n Tamiya 53909) that go between your receiver and the control board to provide lighting:


Do you know what's the 3D print material of the tank? I had some first generation 3D parts (probably PLA) that 5-7 years down the road, simply crumbled in my hands when I went to handle them.
Old 04-04-2023, 08:38 AM
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The whole upper hull and turret are resin printed. Looks to be the same material as my DKlM M60.
oh the wheels too. Excellent detail though it is brittle so safe handling is necessary like a styrene Tamiya tank details unlike henglong ABS parts.

I put a lot of thought into this before I bought it, The problems with the Merkava were typically unique to that design of tank specifically and if the arms of that tank were metal they would not have broken. The other issues are as I stated and I could elaborate at length if you wish. I would still buy another Merkava if I wanted one, if I could get metal arms, but also resolved the arms with my mod of their arm in pla.
Old 04-04-2023, 10:11 AM
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You know, Rich, as much as you're building your own Parts you might want to look into a desktop metal studio. I know they're expensive, I have no idea how much they actually cost, but you could 3D print Parts like suspension arms in brass, aluminum, or stainless steel.
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Old 04-04-2023, 09:33 PM
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I have had a chance to drive it around a bit now and while I can control the tk26 decently to my satisfaction it just stalls out way too easy.
lit has stalled on light uneven terrain. Pretty sad. And it will not drive in grass,
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Old 04-05-2023, 12:34 PM
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Hello tankers,

since I still have enough stock, I will use this alternative for the Hoobeen chain - P7 - after I have painted it.
Maybe production will start again?!

Best greetings
Guenther
Old 04-05-2023, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Koenigstiger
Hello tankers,

since I still have enough stock, I will use this alternative for the Hoobeen chain - P7 - after I have painted it.
Maybe production will start again?!

Best greetings
Guenther
Thank you Gunther. But, as the Tamiya track pads are too wide, those would be too wide as well. One would have to trim teach pad down to glue it to the hooben track.

I myself have a lot of the the Tamiya track that is plastic link with the leopard track pad that glues on the face, it came with the computerized Sherman and the ďmotorizedĒ 1980s Leoaprd 1 kit I have. While unsuitable as track for an rc tank, I have thought about using the pads to glue onto the hooben track, but Iím working another angle of replacement track for the hooben as well.
Old 04-05-2023, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by RichJohnson
I have had a chance to drive it around a bit now and while I can control the tk26 decently to my satisfaction it just stalls out way too easy.
lit has stalled on light uneven terrain. Pretty sad. And it will not drive in grass,
Hi Rich, Interested in your build solutions to turn your model into an IR battle tank. I find it fascinating that you still pick disappointing out of the box RTR rc tanks to save and make right. Seems a painful way to pursue one’s hobby.

Anyway, good luck and much success. Though, from what I’ve seen so far, the preorder RTR Haya Centurion delivery I am waiting on is not much better, with its overly complex rc setup. So it seems. I’ve mistakenly joined your RTR rc tank rebuild hobby club. John

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Old 04-05-2023, 02:33 PM
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Yeah the whole problem is right now boards are just not available other than Clark.

In my Tamiya leopard 1 builds I am making I have been using Tamiya Sheridan DMD systems. They are good but now out of stock however the centurian dmd11 is now in stock but none of the cables are. None….
the DMD11 is perfect for my builds that use servo elevation and recoil. However this hooben leopard has an elevation motor so Tamiya dmd11 is out.
I will sacrifice the IBu2 from my henglong Abrams that wore out and retire that tank to a box. The ibu2 will run the hooben leopard quite well. Then I just have to install ir bulb and tbu base.

I understand that this tk26 thing can do IR but it’s not good enough of a diver to make use of.
the tank so far seems quite good. I can’t knock it yet beside the hull lift points are too thick.
Operation seems good. I bought spare track too.

I drive left hand and turret operate left hand. Which means I have a terrible time trying to drive a henglong radio.
hoever if I drove right and fought left hand, I would be converting my tanks to the new henglong 7.0 or 7.1 depending of servo needs, and then install a Legodei battle appple. Better than Clark, totally reliable and just follow the rules of run in low speed mode and battle with Tamiya and Clark tanks. But alas, I cannot track myself to drive right hand naturally in a battle so I must stick to things like ibu and likely Clark some day though so far I don’t care for them.
Old 04-05-2023, 09:32 PM
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So today I got out in the field and tried to do some driving. I drove around last night in the dark in the dirt next door and the tank locked up and jammed a little bit causing the stalling out.
Today in the field I drove for just a few minutes when I noticed a clicking and lots of track jamming and locking up and the mfu stalling out. I did some testing and got on the ground and laid on my belly to watch the tank try to drive. Litterally nearly every time I tried to drive the tank one track or both would lock up.
It took me a little bit to determine the track coming off the sprocket going forward was dipping down and catching on the top of the rear shock absorber.
The track is a tad too loose but it wasnt coming off due to the retaining ring but this is a side effect problem. The single pin mock double pin track doesnt flex as well as say tamiya double pin track does so it tends to cling to the sprocket a little longer on a curve before it peels off. This is with all single pin tracks.
So the goal was to tighten up the track and do some test driving before I modify or remove the top of the shock absorbers.

I took the idlers off by just unscrewing the long 2.5mm screw holding them into the metal splined bracket that is screwed to the hull. I found one of the bracket screws was missing a nut, it vibrated loose so I replaced it and put some rtv on it to retain it.
I have to say, I am super impressed with the idlers on this tank. Where the idlers on the merkava had very large few number of splines on the idler shafts allowing for a very coarse large adjustment that really sucked, this tank with its metal idlers and metal brackets has twice as many splines and smaller size allows for a very fine idler adjustment.
And a huge benefit as well, the idlers at least have ball bearings on the inside and outside, also the hub caps fit tightly and have a tab on each side 180 degrees from each other to make them fit even tighter.
Now I did have a an issue with the retained nuts for the idler wheel axle and the idler arm its self fall out of the bracket. They are just sitting in cavities. I used some glue to hold them in place to put the idlers and wheels back on.
I was successful at getting a good track tension by removing a track pad section on each side and lowering the idler adjuster one position point. The track is now taught without being too tight. I hope its at the sweet spot for now until it stretches out. Then I will revisit the issue just like the Merkava but this tank is so much easier to fine adjust and tune.

Here are some photos showing the slack in the track, the damage to the shock absorber top and the idler components as well as a few I took in the field today.

I have to say, I am even more impressed with this tank now. Where the Merkava lacked in technical quality hooben has adapted and made those changes to their process and made all the right technical mechanical parts the best way possible. So far, I call this tank a winner. Would I buy it again if I somehow lost it, heck yes.

While Im not jazzed with the TK26 I dont fault hooben for that at all. Its a control system. I dont care for the older 2 piece tamiya DMDs either
This tank has all the detail you want, and so far the good mechanical that you want as well. In many ways, I rate it higher than a tamiya, and I would know, I am building 6 of them, and have 1 completed.
The only draw back is the model of leopard that it is. It has the vertical rear exhaust grills. Only batch 1, 2 and 3 of the 4 batches of the leopard 1 had vertical grills. All the rest have the horizantal grills. The only countries that had vertical grill leopards were Germany and Belgium, who bought batch 3 tanks. (You might have noticed one of the tamiyas I building is a Belgian) Belgium I dont think made their Leopard 1 tanks into a5 variants, I have to verify that.
Now, the Bundeswer sold off most of their leopard 1a5 modernized old leopard 1 tanks. The only countries that got vertical grill A5s are Turkey, Greace and Norway. Norway has a cool cammo pattern and a big tool box on the glacis for the grousers so I am going to pry off the grouser part on the front and build that box and paint the norway pattern.
If hooben had made the horizantal grill, it could serve to be a Leopard 1a5 from any number of Nato countries that moderinzed their leopard 1 tanks into A5s but with the vertical grill it could only be as I described above.
Also it would be cool if Hooben made a model without the A5 kit and had the origial plain leopard 1 sights and didnt have side skirts but they told me they are not interested. Though I think most people I have talked to would prefer an early plain Leo1 without side skirts. Im building a tamiya one like that that will be Italian.

I did make some recommendations to Hooben based on my knowledge of the tank and details and things I thought would improve its cool factor that would be easy to do since its all 3d printed.
If I were not building 6 tamiya leopard 1 tanks, I would buy another and try to back date it, but Ive got enough leopard projects for now LOL.








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Old 04-07-2023, 05:44 AM
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I'm actually suprised by how good it looks in the pics. Looks like a good finish and some decent materials used.
Shame about the lack of power/drivability on anything but hard surfaces.
Old 04-07-2023, 05:55 AM
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Looking good, Rich, I'll be interested to hear your opinion on the differences between the TK 26 and the IBU. Maybe a comparison of all the different functions and which unit you like better for each? And how does the tk-26 compare to the 6.0 and up? I have a couple of tanks with the 6.0 board in them, but I still haven't tried a 7.0 mfu.
Old 04-07-2023, 06:07 AM
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Oh I wouldnt say lack of power or driveability. The tank can do it, I pushed the tk26 system to get it to do it but it started to glitch and wig out on me.
Several times yesterday it went into a backwards turn while the turret turned and lowered the barrel. It kept going and I had to chase it and turn the tank off.
But the tank model itself after I resolved the below statement, runs like a dream.

Now for what was going on.
The scale of the shock absorbers is smaller than on the Tamiya Leopard. Because they are smaller the top where the mount is that would bolt them to the hull is small enough that it fits right into the gap between the end connectors of the track. Even with the track properly tensioned they catch sometimes. Not all the time but often depending on what kind of terrain you are negotiating. Semi flat dirt I drove for quite a bit without a problem but uneven terrain would cause the track to stretch or tighten as the wheels move up and down and any slack and the single pin track clings to the sprocket and then catches the shock top and jams.
I resulted in just grinding the top off the shock absorber on each rear shock. I drove though a rut in my yard where I first noticed the jam and it never jammed again. Need to get in the field to try it out on rough terrain but I think its resolved. Yes it sucks I had to do that, but sometimes even henglong tanks require mods to work good. Look at this TD M60 that is out, they are kina a hot mess that you have to resolve.





Old 04-07-2023, 06:25 AM
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The TK 26 stalls easily so far. It has also gltiched and sent the tank into a reverse turn while the turret turned back and lowered the barrel where I had to chase it to turn the tank off.
It has a lot of cool lighting functions. Working turnsignals even. But it was stalling constantly. Maybe because of the track jamming it was dying. It didnt stall after I made my modification but I didnt drive it alot.
The HL 7.0 or 7.1(servo) is really nice driver.
The algorithm to drive in this TK26 is ok. I like it better than my tamiya sherdian DMD11 units.

The TK26 is a cheap controler system, its a little more than half the price of the HL 7.0 or 7.1 which is $75 I think.

Here is some pics of going over some really rough terrain





Old 04-07-2023, 10:31 AM
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Hello tank friends,
Leopard 1 tank had no turn signals.If the tank had to turn on public roads, the commander gave the appropriate signal with a hand signal.


Best greetings - lucky eastern and big eggs
Gunther



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Old 04-07-2023, 11:18 AM
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What are the marker lamps that are mounted on the fenders? Are they just a marker lamp and not a turn signal?
Old 04-08-2023, 12:54 AM
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Hello and good morning,
two lights on the front covers were white marker lights - they were used to indicate the width of the tank to oncoming traffic.

Best greetings
Guenther

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Old 04-08-2023, 12:55 AM
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Originally Posted by RichJohnson
What are the marker lamps that are mounted on the fenders? Are they just a marker lamp and not a turn signal?
Exact, this just marker lamp
Old 04-09-2023, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Koenigstiger
Hello and good morning,
two lights on the front covers were white marker lights - they were used to indicate the width of the tank to oncoming traffic.

Best greetings
Guenther
Thank you Gunther. I did not know this.
Hooben also made a backup light out of the reflectors on the outside of the light housing.
They used the yellow lamp above the tail light as a turn signal instead of the stop light.
Old 04-10-2023, 07:25 AM
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Hello Rich,

good old Leopard 1 had or has a track width of 55 cm - that would be 3.43 cm in 1/16 scale.How wide is the Hooben track of the Leopard 1 A5 ? My tank will be arrives tomorrow.

Best greetings from germany
Guenther


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Old 04-10-2023, 08:24 AM
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Using a rigid ruler it looks like it’s 32mm wide across the ECs.
The Tamiya leopard 1 uses the same track as Tamiya Sherman and Pershing. (As would the M47, m48 and M60 in real life)
Ive always thought the real Leopard 1 used the same pattern dimensional track as the mentioned US variants.
Old 04-10-2023, 11:08 AM
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Hello Rich,
Thanks for the information. My plan is to paint the chain metal-colored and then glue the rubber pads from the rc35tank on the outside and either fill the holes inside with 2K kit or glue pieces of rubber there.The electronics will be replaced by a Clark TK 50 with the original Leopard 1 sound.As an old Leopard 1 tank platoon commander, I would like to hear the right sound.

Kind regards
Guenther
Old 04-10-2023, 11:14 AM
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Hello,
here is a video with an old Leopard 1 model from me with a Clark TK 40 sound


So long
Guenther
Old 04-10-2023, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Koenigstiger
Hello Rich,
Thanks for the information. My plan is to paint the chain metal-colored and then glue the rubber pads from the rc35tank on the outside and either fill the holes inside with 2K kit or glue pieces of rubber there.The electronics will be replaced by a Clark TK 50 with the original Leopard 1 sound.As an old Leopard 1 tank platoon commander, I would like to hear the right sound.

Kind regards
Guenther
I figured you were a crewman or TC on a Leopard. Nice you were a Platoon Commander.
Have many Tamiya have you built? Challenging to do them right arenít they. Iím doing 6 more plus the experiment I modernized into what I call a 1a7 and looks kinda like mexas.

I need to cut the rear side skirt down at the sprocket now and pry off the track grousers and build my box for the Norway tank and start painting the cammo I want.

im going to put my last ibu2 in the tank. Iím just not a fan of Clark but sadly they are the only board available now and if I build one more tank I will have to start using them.

im debating doing what you are going to, on my track, I bought two sets, just like I did with the Merkava. But, I am working with Jvm3dconcepts to develop a real double pin accurate working track for this model. If it works, it will require building up the track myself completely from individual components and steel wire. I hope it works. We will see.
I had them make up leoaprd 1 pads for the Tamiya track as they already make excellent looking T48 pads for the Tamiya track. Go check them out in instagram.
Old 04-10-2023, 11:45 AM
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I took a video of driving it out in the field.

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