The RoboPet Hack Project

We here at the BBC have become unhealthily obsessed with a new toy. Or, rather, an old toy. This little guy had been hiding out in the BBC storage vaults for a decade or so, and it is high time to bring him out to play.

The RoboPet

The RoboPet is puportedly an autonomous robotic dog, and given the limitations of the technology (and price point — this is a toy) of the day, it comes amazingly close. But if it’s going to become a full-fledged autonomous member of our cabal, then it needs to come much closer. And we’re going to help it reach this next level of evolution.

We already have a good start: we have inserted a small computer between its infrared receiver and its existing microcontroller, so we can embed programs into it that can do anything that can be done through the remote control. Ultimately, this isn’t good enough, but it will do for now.

You can find all the gory details of what we’ve learned and done over here. There is probably enough information there that you can replicate our efforts. We even have software!

Trap Your Voice in a Bottle

Whisky bottle

You’ll probably want some friends to help you empty the bottle.

Summer is almost here, and it’s time to start preparing for summertime fun. We here at The BBC (No Relation) want to help. Let’s start with a cool beach toy that you can make. This requires little money, little work, and little skill, which is particularly important if you’re intending to make a bunch of them for a series of jakes (or a single complicated one) or just want a lot of fun for a little effort.

The eMessage in a Bottle is an easy project for the beginner circuit enthusiast. It clearly came about from me wanting to put my voice in a bottle. Remember as a kid you tried yelling into a bottle, closing it quickly, and then opening it near your ear only to be disappointed with sounds of the ocean. No longer!

A scroll-filled bottle that plays audio of your choice when uncorked. The possibilities are endless.

(Image by Ryan Hyde)