In this Instructable you will learn how to hack the Snap Circuits Rover by adding a PICAXE micro controller and building a 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 programmable Snap Circuits robot). 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 robot. You will then assemble robot. Finally you will learn how to program and test the robot. And, as a bonus, you will learn how to build a motion detecting robot.
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.
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.
Here's a video of the robot running the test program (see the last step for a video of the motion detecting robot):
Software CD from the Snap Circuits XP kit or the Snap-Micro I kit (if you don’t have of these kits you can download the PICAXE Programming Editor from http://www.picaxe.com/Software/PICAXE/PICAXE-Programming-Editor/
1 10 X 7 Plastic Base Grid
1 Snap Circuits Rover
1 9 volt Battery Block B5
1 Motor Control IC U8
1 8 Pin Socket U21 With PICAXE 08m Installed
4 1KOhm Resistors R2
1 Slide Switch S1
1 USB Programming Cable
3 Single Snaps
9 Two Snap Conductors
1 Three Snap Conductor
2 Four Snap Conductors
1 Seven Snap Conductor
1 Orange Jumper Wire
1 Yellow Jumper Wire
1 Green Jumper Wire
1 Purple Jumper Wire
1 Gray Jumper Wire
1 White Jumper Wire
1 Single Snap
1 100 Ohm Resistor R1
parts can be ordered from http://cs-sales.net/sncirepa.html
Install 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.
Install the PICAXE Programming Editor from the Snap Circuits XP or Snap-Micro I software CD on your laptop or desktop computer (Windows XP/Vista/7). The setup program will auto-run when you put the CD in the drive. When the dialog box for the install program appears on your screen, click the large button that says “Install the PICAXE Programming Editor software." When the install program finishes, you will see an icon on your Windows desktop that says “PICAXE Programming Editor.”
Insert the Snap Circuits USB Programming Cable into an empty USB port on your computer. Click on the PICAXE Programming Editor icon on your desktop to open the editor.
The Options dialog will automatically open (if the “Show options on startup” check box is checked). If it does not, go to View > Options. On the Mode tab, select 08M--this is your PICAXE microcontroller.
Click on the Serial Port tab and select the COM port where your USB Programming Cable is connected. Click the Ok button to go to the programming editor.
In the Programming editor click File and then click New Flowchart to start entering your flowchart. Before you start to create your flowchart, let’s take a look at some of the parts used to build your robot.