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.

If you take a moment to review this Instructable: Spy Video Trakr: Add a Missile Launcher http://www.instructables.com/id/Recycle-The-Spy-Video-Trakr-Add-a-Missile-Launche/, you will notice that I have designed my Trakr hacks without having to use soldering irons and hot glue so that younger kids can try these hacks. Unfortunately since Wire Glue is designed for ages 10 and older, the age group for National Robotics Week and the Instructables Robot Challenge are ages 13 to 18. Younger kids can try these hacks with the supervisoin of an adult. The two solderless alternative used in this Trakr hack are Wire Glue conducting glue and Snap Circuits.

Snap Circuits by Elenco is an educational toy that teaches folks about electronics with solderless snap-together electronic components. Each electronic component has the electronic schematic symbol and a label printed onto its plastic case that is color coded for easy identification. They snap together with what appear to be ordinary clothing snaps—hence the name Snap Circuits. The components also snap onto a 10 X 7 plastic base grid, which is 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.

In this Instructable you'll learn how to add a Lego claw attachment to the Spy Vidoe Trakr. You'll learn how to download and install the C language compiler for the Trakr. You'll learn how to install jumper pins on the Trakr's circuit board to control external devices such as the Lego claw attachment. You'll learn how to add a common ground and 9 volt power tap for your Trakr hacking projects. You'll learn how to build a versatile cargo deck for the Trakr out of Lego. You'll learn how to build the Lego claw attachment. You'll learn how to connect the Lego claw to the Trakr. Finally you'll learn how to program the Trakr to operate your Lego claw attachment.

Step 1: Download and Install the C Language Compiler

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.
here's some trakr resources: <br> <br>http://dev.spygear.net/help/files/ <br> <br>http://web.archive.org/web/20111127175233/http://www.trakrhakr.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page
I think that the URL found on the PCB is a dead link.
I'll have to look at the rest of the instructable, but it shouldn't be much harder making a simple RC-servo controlled claw.. I worked a simple 2-servo clamp, then lift assembly for an old Parallax BOE-Bot, and rebuilt a broken claw for a VeXplorer, as well added the 2nd wrist for it, using parts from the V0.5 gear set and a 2nd metal pack. (before Radio$hack gave-up on the VeX line, and Innovation-First-Inc began expanding.), But well Done, KRA5H!<br>
Not Easy .. :D
This gives me pause for concern. I hope to post another Trakr claw attachment Instructable but using a Lego technic motor instead of the Lego NXT motor. What should I do to to improve this next Instructable to make it easier?

About This Instructable


14 favorites


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 »
More by KRA5H: LaserOscope DIY Super Selfie Stick Flash an LED with Scratch on the Kano Computer
Add instructable to: