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Big Trak Programmable Electronic Vehicle

Updated on September 10, 2014

Big Trak Programmable Electronic Vehicle

I was with my wife and daughter at a block sale, at one of the homes at the block sale I came across a most unique find. A Big Trak programmable electronic vehicle with Transport. The Tranport is basically a wagon that trails behind the Big Trak vehicle that can be triggered to dump on command from the Big Trak vehicle. The Big Trak vehicle with transport was had for only 5 dollars!

What is a Big Trak?

Big Trak was a programmable electronic vehicle created by Milton Bradley in 1979. You used a keypad mounted on the top of the vehicle to program such commands as move forward, move in reverse, turn left or right X amount of degrees, fire photon cannon which amounted to a blue light on the front of the vehicle and Out which caused the transport wagon to dump. Big Trak could remember up to 16 commands. At the heart of the Big Trak was a Texas Instrument TMS1000 microcontroller. In 1979 it had the suggested retail price of $43 which is about equivalent to $125 in 2010.

Repairing my Big Trak:

My Big Trak was in pretty good order, it was missing a battery tray cover so I fabricated one form some plastic I had left over from my model railroad hobby. Here is a picture of my fabricated battery cover.

Another Problem:

After I installed the 4 D batteries in the battery tray under the Big Trak it would not respond when I turned on the power button. I discovered that the Big Trak also requires a battery cleverly hidden under a circular cover at the top of the vehicle. You have to turn this cover counter-clock wise to remove the cover.

The Trial Run:

OK so now the 4 D batteries ar ein place as well as the 9 Volt battery, success the Big Trak powered up! I click on the Test button which puts the Big Trak through a routine of moving forward firing the “Phonton” cannons and moving backwards. The Big Trak made sounds as if it was firing the photon cannons but they didn’t light up. I removed the front cover of the Big Trak to discover that the light bulb that illuminates the photon cannons had worked its way loose. I little tightening and we were back in business.

The Transport:

As mentioned, the Transport is basically a wagon that trails behind the Big Trak vehicle that can be triggered to dump on command from the Big Trak vehicle. This was a separate and only optional accessory and did not come with the Big Trak but had to be purchased separately. My transport was in sad shape. First I had to replace the mini jack connector that connected the transport to the Big Trak. The Big Trak completes a circuit between the mini-jack connector to signal it is time to dump.

The Transport (continued):

I also had to replace the crank mechanism that lifts the transport ‘s bed into the upright position. Once again my model railroad hobby provided the necessary plastic and hardware to accomplish this.


I know have a functional Big Trak with Transport! My how this brings back memories from my childhood. I can’t wait to see what treasure the next yard, garage, or block sale awaits me!

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