In this Instructable you will learn how to build a light activated dancing Snap Circuits programmable robot. First, you will learn how to install the PICAXE Programming Editor (the PICAXE is the microcontroller, or computer brain for your Dance Dance Roverbot). Next, you will learn what a simple PICAXE program looks like and what it does. Then you will learn about the various parts and electronic components used to build Dance Dance Roverbot. You will then assemble Dance Dance Roverbot. Finally you will learn how to program and test Dance Dance Roverbot.

Snap Circuits is an educational toy that teaches electronics with solderless snap-together electronic components. Each component has the schematic symbol and a label printed on its plastic case that is color coded for easy identification. They snap together with ordinary clothing snaps. The components also snap onto a 10 X 7 plastic base grid analogous to a solderless breadboard. There are several Snap Circuits kits that range from a few simple circuits to the largest kit that includes 750 electronic projects.

All the kits include manuals printed in color with easy to follow diagrams to assemble the projects. The illustrations for each project look almost exactly like what the components will look on the base grid when finished. Because the electronic symbol is printed on each electronic component, once the project is completed, it will look almost exactly like a printed electronic schematic.

To build Dance Dance Roverbot, I used parts from three different sets, the Snap Circuits Motion Detector, Snap Circuits Rover, and Snap Circuits Micro. Elenco does not currently have a Snap Circuits programmable robot product. I find this surprising since Elenco has developed the Snap Circuits Rover, which is a remote controlled rover and the Snap Circuits Micro that teaches you how program the PICAXE microcontroller and how to build circuits for the PICAXE, but Elenco has yet to develop a product that combines the PICAXE with the Snap Circuits Rover.

I designed Dance Dance Roverbot to be easy to build completely out of Snap Circuits parts and easy to program to inspire folks from 8 to 80 to get interested in robotics. I've entered Dance Dance Roverbot in the Toy Challenge Contest so, If you like this Instructable, please vote for it: http://www.instructables.com/contest/toy2/?show=ENTRIES

The following are the Snap Circuits parts you will need to build Dance Dance Roverbot (parts can be ordered separately from Elenco http://www.elenco.com/product/productlist/snap_circuits®; or C & S sales http://cs-sales.net/sncirepa.html):

Software CD from the Snap Circuits XP or Snap-Micro I kit (if you do not have either of these kits you can download the PICAXE Programming Editor from http://www.picaxe.com/Software/PICAXE/PICAXE-Programming-Editor/)

1 10 X 10 Plastic Base Grid
1 Rover
1  9 volt Battery Block B5
1  Motor Control IC U8
1 8 Pin Socket U14 With PICAXE 08m Installed
1 100K Ohm Rsistor R5
2 1K Ohm Resistors R2
1 Photo Resistor RP
1 Slide Switch S1
1  USB Programming Cable
2 Single Snaps
15 Two Snap Conductors
1 Three Snap Conductor
1 Four Snap Conductor
1 Six Snap Conductor
1 Seven Snap Conductor
1 Orange Jumper Wire
1  White Jumper Wire
1 Green Jumper Wire
1 Yellow Jumper Wire
1 Purple Jumper Wire
1 Gray Jumper Wire

Step 1: Installing The PICAXE Programming Editor

The PICAXE Programming Editor is the software you will use to program the PICAXE micro-controller installed on the Snap Circuits 8 Pin Socket U14 block (the PICAXE chip carrier). The software contains the flowcharting software, the editor that you can use to write BASIC programs and the compiler for the micro-controller.

BASIC is an acronym that stands for Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. It was created way back in the 1960s as an easy to understand programming language to introduce students to computer programming.
What's a compiler? Have you seen those geeky T-shirts that say "there are only 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't?" If you find yourself scratching your head instead of laughing hysterically, then you don't understand binary. Computers, on the other hand, understand only binary. 1s and 0s. On and off.

I have heard of some people who can do binary code, or machine language in their heads, but the rest of us normal people would have a difficult time writing a computer program out of nothing but 1s and 0s. Instead we use a higher level language like BASIC to write software.

Have you ever been to a foreign country and didn't know the language? You can hire a translator to translate what you say into the language that the locals can understand. That's what a compiler does. Computers can't understand BASIC so a compiler translates the software you write in BASIC into machine code, or the 1s and 0s that computers can understand.

Part needed for this step:

Software CD from the Snap Circuits XP or Snap-Micro I kit (if you do not have either of these kits you can order the CD from Elenco or download the PICAXE Programming Editor from http://www.picaxe.com/Software/PICAXE/PICAXE-Programming-Editor/)

Install the PICAXE Programming Editor from the Snap Circuits XP or Snap-Micro I software CD (Windows XP/Vista/7). The setup program will auto run when you put the CD in the drive. Click the large button that says “Install the PICAXE Programming Editor software."
<p>Well shown there! Perhaps check my cheaper &quot;snapped&quot; PICAXE approach that's built into a gutted sound module =&gt; http://www.instructables.com/id/quotSnap-connectorquot-PICAXE-microcontroller/</p>
I learned so much about electricity from those snap circuits as a kid.

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Bio: You can try my projects AT YOUR OWN RISK. There's infinite ways to damage or destroy persons and property. I can't think of ... More »
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