big trak | Nathaniel

Project Summary: To take a Big Trak, the Sci-Fi vehicle of the 1980s and bring it into the Internet of Things, wiring its motors up to a Raspberry Pi and controlling it through a web interface I will build

I always wanted to play with a floor turtle at primary school, unfortunately it was broken so we never got the opportunity; so recently I thought it would be fun to play with a Big Trak. After finding a brand new, unopened one on eBay for £10, I couldn't resist and thought it would be a great time to have an experiment. The Big Trak itself is reasonably limited, being able to store 16 commands programmed on it, I decided that my next project will be cracking it open and wiring it up to a Raspberry Pi to allow control of it through a web interface.
I've ordered the parts to add to it and will update the post when they arrive!
All the parts have arrived in a slew of packages from China Mail and Hong Kong Post. The components I've ordered were:
A day of soldering and removing the old PCB from the bigtrak. The old cables for the motors were desoldered (the best I could without a solder mop) and new cables connected, although my soldering is not the finest thing in the world!

Instead of using D batteries, I've instead decided to power the motors using a USB power supply and a donor USB cable as shown in the pictures below, it works with a wall charger but I'll have to get a bigger power bank for actually including within the trak itself. Connecting the motors directly to power using the breadboard worked and spun them, although I haven't quite sorted getting the motor driver to work through the Pi yet, that will be the next task.

  • I intend to complete this project this summer by instead using a motor driver and an ESP8266. I was previously prohibited by the large battery drain due to the Raspberry Pi and corruption issues through frequent rebooting.
  • I'm hoping the new chip will alleviate this issue!