The i-SOBOT has a lot going for it. Character, personality, low price, 17 degrees of freedom, and some 'programmability' just to mention a few of its strong points.
Still, there are a lot of robot fans out there that desperately want to do even more with it. They want to take advantage of the basic i-SOBOT robot and expand it to do things its designers at TOMY never imagined.
But, to accomplish any serious hacking, first you have to figure out what's what inside the i-SOBOT's tiny body and brains....
We've already posted about Robert's project expanding the popular RoboDance software to control the i-SOBOT, and how it includes use of the Wii-Mote controller so that by waving your hands and arms the robot will respond.
It's a great application that we plan to write more about soon. But, it's all external and doesn't require any potentially warranty violating modifications to the robot itself. It still leaves the question of what magic and mysteries is the i-SOBOT hiding under it's covers?
One brave soul, apparently a devoted robot fan and hacker living either in France, or perhaps a French speaking location in Canada, decided to find out.
On his (her?) blog, they are slowly and painstakingly disassemblying and documenting all the i-SOBOT internals, mechanical, electrical, and software. They started off by observing:
"I received my first i-SOBOT yesterday and tried the various preprogrammed modes. It is really fun for the value, especially the special actions mode like dancing and doing exercises. Tomy and Takara engineers have done a great job and i-SOBOT is certainly a milestone in humanoid robots history."
Then go on to lay out their goals for the project:
"As a robotics enthusiast, I am much more interested in studying the hardware to use i-SOBOT as a low-cost humanoid platform with advanced robotics controller like Mobisense Systems MBS270, especially to add sensors and computer vision."
The follow-on posts include:
i-SOBOT Controller Overview - covers disassembly and includes two detailed and annotated photos that show all the major connectors and functionality.
i-SOBOT Controller Overview 2 - digs deeper into the i-SOBOT controller including servo connections, the on board gyro, and quite a few pin-outs.
Right-Arm Control - covers the servo signals and protocols
More About i-SOBOT Servo Protocol - Includes the i-SOBOT frames and protocols in quite a bit of detail.
Very exciting stuff. We can hardly wait to see what they post next.