How to make the Brookstone App-Controlled Spy Tank Work

UPDATE: Our son Mack died just a year after I wrote this original post. If you have found this post helpful perhaps you might considering giving a few dollars to the Mack Brady Soccer Fund established in his memory.

I hope this post helps and have fun!


Tomorrow is my son’s birthday and our his present is the Rover App-Controlled Spy Tank with Night Vision. You can now find this for $99.99 at Target, Amazon, and Brookstone itself. It is a great premise. From their promotional material:

Mission Possible.
Whether following friends and family, navigating the office or investigating the activities of your dog, it’s all possible with this audio/visual-enabled and photo-taking Rover. Its built-in microphone transmits sound back to your device in real time. So you can hear everything as it’s being said. The manually adjustable camera streams live video and takes still photos. Giving you total access to see what’s going on in other rooms. Even take pictures as proof. Low-light setting? No problem! The undetectable infrared night vision lets you see items in the dark. Mission. Accomplished.
It’s App-Controlled!
The Rover Spy Tank is App-Controlled by your iPod touch® (2nd, 3rd and 4th generation), iPhone® device, or iPad® tablet. It generates its own Wi-Fi wireless connection for your smart device (no frequency interference!). The impressive wireless range lets it travel up to 200 ft. unobstructed, up to 100 ft. around walls into other rooms. Navigate it with the on-screen driving arrows or use the G-Drive Mode that uses your device’s accelerometer like a steering wheel in your hand. To get started, simply download the Free App from the iTunes® App StoreSM.

Sadly, almost as soon as it was unwrapped and powered up deep disappointment set in. The problem was the iOS app (sorry, no Droid version). The software is poorly written and there is no documentation. Furthermore Brookstone offers no support (well, they were nice, but no one knew what was going on) and, to my great surprise, I could not find the answer on the intertubes. So here I offer the solution in the hopes of making new owners a little less despondent and likely to throw their lovely tank through a window.

The problem exhibits itself in this way. You launch the app and immediately receive the following error:  “Rover Connection Error Please Check Your Wi-Fi Connection.” You will receive this error even when you are on your own local Wi-Fi network. Why? Because contrary to impressions given in all the material I read, the tank is not on your wifi network, it creates its own!

Here are the steps to get it working.

  1. Turn the tank on FIRST and wait for the blue light to come on.
  2. In your iOS device go to Settings:Wi-Fi
  3. CHOOSE THE TANK’s WiFi – this is the key. The tank’s WiFi name will be a long series of letters and numbers, beginning with AC13.
  4. Now you can control the tank with your iOS device.

The fact that *nowhere* could I find this described on the intertubes was very frustrating and there was no help to be found on Brookstone’s site. Still, I hope this helps others because it is a fun device. Our cat is now petrified (she’ll get over it) and the “night vision” feature is fantastic. My only real negative (aside all the above) is that the camera, while it can move up and down you cannot control it remotely. It is also fairly poor quality and cannot, so far as I can tell, capture video. It can record a preset path that you can then have it follow. All in all, a fun toy that my son is currently enjoying immensely and I am no longer contemplating throwing out the window.

UPDATE: Nearly two years later this post still gets far more hits than any other here. Apparently people are still buying the tank! Be sure to read the comments for updates, particularly I note this one:

Jay Sulfridge: Be sure you have the correct app. There is more than 1 brookstone rover and the apps are not interchangeable. i would get the flashing blue light, launch the app, but connection failed. Downloaded proper ap, and works like a charm.

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