Snap Circuits Rover controled by Arduino

I have a project I am trying to work on with my 11 year old son. Please help.
He really enjoys Snap Circuits and we have gotten a number of kits over the years.

We bought the Rover (SCROV-10, "RC Snap Rover") and upgraded it to the Rover Deluxe, which adds a dog-like "head" with blinking eyes and a mouth which "shoots" foam disks - perhaps at the cat (SCROV-50, "Deluxe Snap Rover"). I was excited when I saw that Elenco, makers of Snap Circuits, offered an Arduino kit called SCSNAPINO, "Snapino" - we had to get it - we could surely use it to convert the Rover into a real autonomous robot.

Surprisingly (at least surprisingly to me) there was no instructions for attaching the Snapino to the Rover.
I think I need to take measurements with my multimeter of the working "official" configuration then figure out how to replace the RF receiver with the Snapino - but I am not entirely sure what to measure and how to emulate the RF module with the Snapino.
The Snapino contains an Arduino UNO in a clear case with some pins exposed as Snaps. Additional pins can be exposed with add-on parts

( Red snap-to-pin wire -
6SCJ5RED, "Red snap-to-pin wire").

The SCROV-10 comes with a RF receiver and a RF remote control. There is a three position "A, B, C" switch for changing frequencies (on both the Receiver and on the Remote).

The remote control is depicted here: it has two spring loaded forward and backward switches, intended to control the two left and two right wheels (front and back wheels are mechanically synched on each side). The remote control also has two "fire buttons", left and right.

The original Rover kit, SCROV-10, had two separate modules - one to receive and decode the RF and the other which I think is a H-Bridge. The modules and terminals are shown here:

The RF module is named RX1 and the "Motor Controller" is marked U8 (this is the one I think is a H-Bridge).

On the same page it shows 6 terminals on the back of the rover - the rover body contains all the batteries, and provides power to the circuit on two of the terminals (DC + and DC -) - two terminals ( of 8 ) are dead, and the remaining 4 are control signals for the motors on the left or right to turn on forward or backward.

The expected setup / circuit diagram is depicted here:

In this setup one "fire button" controls the "whistle" which I think is a piezoelectric speaker with an oscillator of some kind and the other "fire button" controls an LED.
Unless I cut open the plastic modules RX1 and U8 I have no way to tell what is really inside of them - unless I use black-box analysis - but I am a bit vague on how to proceed with that. Snap Circuits / Elenco docs don't provide the details. I suppose I could contact them somehow but I thought I would post here first.

Someone figured out how to control the Rover using the U8 and a PICAXE microcontroler. Reading this is where I got the idea that the U8 is a H-bridge.

So my 11 year old is counting on me, and I am counting on you.
Any help at all gratefully appreciated!

What should my next move - should I build the Circuit from the Elenco manual and measure something? If what and how? What precautions should I take when experimenting to avoid smoking the H-bridge or the Arduino (etc).

I am a computer professional but my electronics is limited to some classes I took in college a few tens of years ago.

I have a laptop and a multimeter but no breadboard or box-of-components except for the Snap Circuits kits we own (many).
I have gotten a simple "das blinken lights" sketch working on the Arduino UNO / Snapino.
I bought a few Arduino Beginner books.
Any advise appreciated.
I tried to follow the guidelines for posting - this is my first post to the Arduino forums.
I apologize if there is too little or to much information in this post.

If someone things this question is better for another Arduino Forum
(Such as Device Hacking; Robotics; Motors, Mechanics, Power and CNC; or General Electronics)
Please let me know. Since I am new I don't want to cross post.

Hello Fenn,

I read this when you first posted it yesterday and thought you probably won't get much help. Your post is comprehensive and informative and in as good a place as any on this forum. The problem with it in my opinion is that this is not a forum where you are likely to get help for the product. The makers of Snap Circuits (which looks like a great product to help young children into electronics and the like) have chosen to put an Arduino product in their product, that doesn't mean that anyone who knows about Arduino also knows about Snap Circuits. The place to ask is wherever people who do know about Snap Circuits hang out, if there is such a place. Personally I have been here almost 3 years and I don't ever remember anyone asking questions about Snap Circuits or any reference to them. Have you done a search to see if anyone has got help on here with Snap Circuits?

I would think that an 11 year old is capable of understanding Arduino in its 'naked' form, not embedded in a toy. The friend who taught me C was programming a Sinclair Spectrum from the age of about 8, and he had no one to help him. Your son has the benefit of your help, I'm sure he'll do really well.

Good luck and I hope someone proves me wrong by helping you out on here.

++Karma; // Because I admire what you are trying to do for your son.

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