In this video, I perform a Robosapien teardown (it’s broken anyway), talk about why/how it broke (hint: MAJOR manufacturing defect), and go over the anatomy of the robot looking at the different parts that made it tick.
The video transcript for the Robosapien teardown is below just in case.
Watch the video, then leave a comment and tell us did you own a Robosapien? Which version? Does it still work? Any cool hacks? I’d love to hear about it!
Figure 1: the star of the Robosapien teardown video, the Robosapien V2
Robosapien Teardown Video Transcript
Today I kind of want to do something a little fun. I have a special guest here, a Robosapien V2.
Now you might wonder why I have this thing taken apart or halfway taken apart. So, before we go into the anatomy of this thing, a little background about it. I received this guy as a Christmas gift in 2006, and it was a lot of fun to play with. Very fun, very hackable, interesting toy but it stopped working a little bit while later and when I investigated why it wasn’t working, I noticed that the insulation on the internal wiring was very brittle and would crack right off, which most likely caused a bunch of shorts and rendered the robot paralyzed.
That is definitely a manufacturing defect and I didn’t want to take the time to rewire the whole robot, so it just kind of sat around for a while. Another thing you might notice, I don’t know if you could tell from the picture, is the plastic here, this plastic has turned yellow. It used to be white, just like the face and the fingers but the plastic turned yellow and it’s very brittle, it will break here, I already broke some off by accident actually, when I was taking it apart, never used to be that way, this is another defect, it’s just a cheap toy and I guess you get what you paid for.
But anyway, that’s why I started taking this thing apart, I wanted to see how it worked and I wanted to see if there were any useful parts inside of this that I could salvage.
So, I started taking it apart and here we have the leg, we have the bumper switches here, they’re here and they’re also on the back, there is a motor in the back and then this little connection board and then the mechanical stuff.
One of the first things that surprised me about this Robosapien — and I should put a picture of this here so you can see what it looked like originally, for those of you who don’t remember, so here it is, here’s what the original Robosapien V2 looked like — but anyway now that we’re done with that, I was surprised that there really was nothing in the robot’s upper arm, and in fact the fingers, when they contract and release are controlled by this motor here but also, this actuator in chest has steel cables that run outside the robots arm and control the fingers — this motor actually controls the turning of the wrist — I’m sorry. And then here there’s a bumper switch too on the things hand if it would smack something with the back of its hand. But I was really surprised to find that the robot’s hands and fingers were mainly controlled by a system of springs, gears, motors in the chest, really interesting.
These robots also came with a camera, as we can see up here in its head and here is the camera, and the board for the camera, we have a microphone, in it’s ear, this one ear, actually I think there’s two microphones, so it’s got two ears and then in the back we have a speaker, I don’t know if you guys can see this but this is what made the sounds when a robot would talk or play music, whatever. Really, really fun, really interesting toy.
You notice that in the back of the head there was this piece of plastic similar to the one in the front, this is actually translucent, light will pass through this and I imagined they did that, one in the front and one in the back for the remote control. The remote control right here, presumably works, it’s also turned from white to yellow but this is probably where the infrared signal would enter, receiver and pick up.
Now I haven’t taken the thing apart completely yet but if I do so, maybe I’ll produce a second video like this if you guys like it.
Here we have the on/off switch in the back, and there’s more motors and more mechanical linkages to control the hips and the waist, and then over here, behind this piece of plastic, I could presume is the main computer board. Let’s see if I can just — and see how brittle that piece is it snaps right off.
Well, looks like we got what looks like a bunch of transistors and then there’s another board below this, which would have to probably contain one or more microcontrollers but I want to take a closer look at this, I’m going to take it apart, like I said, salvage any useful parts out of this guy and maybe use them for other projects.
So, meanwhile, go ahead, drop me a comment, let me know how many of you actually owned a Robosapien V1 or V2, I think they also made — WowWee the company that makes these — also made a dinosaur and I don’t know if it was a dog or some other kind of creature but yeah, drop a comment, let us know if you owned one of these robots and if you were able to do any kind of interesting hacks or anything cool with it.