In honor of National Robotics Week and the Instructables Robot Challenge I am submitting a few robot designs. This design (for ages 13-18) takes advantage of Wild Planet's Spy Video Trakr, which is easily programmable and designed by its developers to be hacked.

The Trakr is a remote controlled robot equipped with a microphone and color video camera, speaker, a near infrared LED for night vision, an SD memory card slot for recording audio/video and 8MB of on board memory for storing downloadable and user designed programs. The remote control unit has control levers to drive the robot, a speaker and color video display so you can hear the audio picked up by the microphone and display the video transmitted by the camera, and several function buttons that can be used to control additional program functions of user designed programs.

In this Instructable you will learn how to hack the Spy Video Trakr. You will learn how to download and install the C language compiler for the Trakr. You will learn how to compile a simple program and install it on the Trakr and then run this simple program. Next you will learn how to open up the Trakr, attach jumper pins to the GPIO connections on the main circuit board of the Trakr. You will learn how an electronic relay works, what the electronic scematic diagram for a relay looks like, and what an actual electronic circuit diagram in which the relay is used looks like. You will learn how to make conversion cables to connect the Trakr to external devices. You will learn how to make a larger cargo deck for the Trakr and mount a foam missile launcher platform on the new cargo deck. You will learn how to tap into the Trakr's 9 volt and 5 volt power supplies. Finally you will learn how to write and compile a program to fire missiles from the foam missile launcher and install it on the Trakr and then run the program.

Step 1: Download and Install the C Language Compiler for the Trakr

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 C language 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 C language so, a compiler translates the software you write in C language into machine code, or the 1s and 0s that computers can understand.

Download the Compiler Zip File

You'll need to download and install the C language compiler so that you can write programs for the Trakr and compile your software into machine language that the Trakr can understand. The C Language compiler is included in a fairly complete software development kit (SDK) that the folks at Wild Planet call the "Primer." So, download the Primer and save it on your computer where it'll be easy to find by clicking the following link:


(see pictue 1 above)

Copy the Primer Files to the C:\trakr Folder

Make a new folder in the root directory of your hard drive (usually the C: drive) called C:\trakr. Then open the Trakr Primer zip file you downloaded from the Trakr web site and copy all the files and folders from the Trakr Primer zip file into your C:\trakr folder. (see picture 2 above)

Update Windows Environment Variables

Next you'll need to update the environment variables to include the path to the Primer's compiler and tools. If you don't know what environment variables are, don't worry, you're just telling your computer where to find the compiler and the tools it needs to compile your Trakr programs.

Open a command prompt, which is a Windows text based interface. Go to Start->Programs->Accessories->Command prompt. You will see a flashing cursor after the ">" and you can type text based commands. When you're done typing a command press the Enter key on your keyboard to execute the command. At the command prompt, type the following commands (see picture 3 above):

cd trakr


cd Internals

Make a Test File to Verify Compiler Installed Correctly

The compiler runs when you type "make" at the command prompt so you need to make sure you navigate to the folder where the makefile you want to run is located. The compiler then follows any instructions in that "makefile" to convert the "app.c" file (the text file containing the source code) into a TRAKR program.

The compiler only looks for the "app.c" file in the current folder so always name your source code app.c. Save your programs in separate folders with names which make sense. This helps to keep all the various "app.c" files organized. As shown in the screen shot, you'll want to run "make clean" in the C:\Trakr\Internals folder. It reports all the files it is removing before returning the prompt to you. Then type "make" at the command prompt and the compiler will use the "makefile" to assemble all the parts of your program (which may include many libraries, images and files specified by your code) into a .bin file to write to the TRAKR hardware. (see picture 4 above)

At the "C:\Trakr\Internals>" prompt type:

make clean


Your newly compiled program or app for the Trakr is called "Test.bin" and the file will need to be copied to the Trakr. Make sure the Trakr is switched off and connect it to your computer using the yellow USB cable that came with the Trakr. Copy Test.bin to the APPS folder inside the Trakr folder. Disconnect the Trakr from your computer and switch the Trakr on. Switch the Trakr remote on, click the home button, and select Test from the menu. It's just a little app that tests all the various functions that your Trakr can do such as motor tests, screen functions and so on.

About This Instructable


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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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