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  • A few comments about “Pleo gets controlled with nunchuck”

    Posted on April 25th, 2009 Andrey Mikhalchuk No comments

    This site got some attention from major internet resources such as engadget and hackaday (thanks guys!), so no wonder it went down for awhile. I tuned it a little, so hopefully it will withstand this wave of visitors (thanks guys!). If it seems too slow for you please come back later this week – there will be fewer visitors and more resources allocated just for you. For now let me answer a few comments about the Pleo hack:

    • “…If you’re into this type of sadistic torture…” (Engadget). Unlike the picture of something shown on Engadget this operation is absolutely safe! Intead of skinning the dino like many researchers did (notably GRIP) I only removed one plastic cap that was supposed to be removed for debugging/repairing purposes. How sadistic is that? And the stun card is just a little anaesthesia to make the operation painless for Pleo. You’re getting the same amount of stun when you teeth are getting repaired. Also this entire operation is completely reversable: take out the card, replace the cover and Pleo is as good as new. Sum: no Pleo’s were damaged while implementing this hack.
    • “…the response time is pretty slow. This might be due to the Arduino’s slower serial communication rate…” (HackADay). Well, the rate is just a part of the explanation. The bigger limitation is the slowness of Pleo’s servos, which in place could be explained by the specifics of Pleo construction. Imagine a box filled with 14 servos, 2 processors and one big stupid battery (sorry to say that, but overall perfect Pleo has one bad spot which is battery). Now seal the box with rubber skin and see what will happen to the contents if you start driving the servos at high speed. The contents will simply get fried. This is why Pleo’s servos are so slow and why I decided not to overdrive them with faster communication. However if you want to make it faster you can do that by tweaking the Arduino source code.
    • “…anyone else *absolutely tired* of wiimote controlled things?..” (taylor from HackADay). I am tired of that. In fact I made this hack only because a) this hack a “side effect” of a bigger project that will absolutely benefit from remote control like nunchuck and b) wanted to bring some more attention to Pleo. As everyone interested already knows UGOBE (the inventor of Pleo) commited sui… bankruptcy. This hack is my hope that someone will pick up the flag with the smiling little green pet on it (i.e. will find a way to continue the production). Actually there is c) bring attention to a few design flows in Pleo’s construction and company policy namely
      • Absolutely horrible battery. Who wants a $300 toy (well it was $99 on Amazon a few days ago) that is capable of working only for 30 minutes before it has to be recharged for 3-4 hours?
      • Absolutely horrible battery policy. Ok, Even if the battery is bad you still can buy another battery and swap them when necessary. Not in the Pleo’s case since UGOBE wasn’t selling spare batteries.
      • No way to control Pleo remotely. If not expensive RF then simple and cheap IR connection would give this toy new life.
      • No impossible promises. Face recognition?! C’mon, this will make the toy even more expensive. Why would one make such a big promise knowing that the built-in camera is not capable of anything like that?
      • There is more …

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