Making a Chimp Alive Again

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MrScott's picture
Making a Chimp Alive Again

I got a (sick) chimp today.

I often stop by a nearby surplus warehouse store to see what store stock has found it's way to their deeply discounted aisles.

A Chimp that had obviously been deboxed, and resealed in just inner box, was on the shelf. It had the remote and the AC adapter. I passed it by one day a week ago. Today I picked it up.

It was initially mostly dead. When switched on it would give a single audio "whoop", and remain inert after that. I poked around in the base and found nothing obviously wrong. I peeled back the wig on the back, removed the back of the skull, and got access to the main logic board. Nothing was obviously wrong there, either.

I pulled and reseated some cables, and finally resorted to some pin probing with a screwdriver looking for a response. I was able to get some Chimp audio, and some programmed movement sequences.

By luck or design, the little buggar reset itself, and now seems to be mostly functional. It listens to the remote, tracks your hand.

My thought is to adapt it for my annual Halloween display. Not sure whether it will become a Chimpinator, an astro-chimp, or just a chimp. I'll keep my eye open for a large stuffed ape at garage sales and such to see if I can get a body to perch it on.

Peter Redmer
Peter Redmer's picture

I'm still chuckling at "Chimpinator" :) That's a great idea, but astro chimp works too. Make sure to post pictures of your final display when you're all finished!

GWJax's picture

Theres something about the Chimp and the Elvis that people will just pass on by saying that would be cool to have and never buy one, but then it happen some one finds a deal on one and now that they have one of these great robots, they just have to open it up too see how it works and either fix it or enhance it. I could tell by what MrScott wrote that he was very pleased with his find and I love the Chimpinator name and now that he has one the mind is set free again to think of what to do with it. If we all can find the right price for the bots we may never buy because of the high pricing that the company puts on them then maybe we'd see more hacking and or post like MrScotts. Keep on hunting folks, their out there and lets get them all and have some fun.

MrScott's picture

Not knowing why it wouldn't power up properly when I first got it, I can't say whether I've solved its problems, or just woken it from its coma for a brief time.

I haven't reconnected the skull top sensor and reinstalled the skull back, so it's not exactly factory fresh at the moment. I'll snap some photos of the main board for reference before buttoning it back up.

MrScott's picture

I've just split this thread off of the "I've got a Monkey" thread. I want to create a gallery of some pictures I'm taking of the Chimp repair process, and only the thread owner can make a gallery.

MrScott's picture

I created the gallery, with a few pictures of the primary circuit board at the back of the Chimp skull.



The fullsize view of the pictures are available in the gallery. 

MrScott's picture

What I ended up doing to force a system reset, was to ground out the pin on the oscillator, effectively killing the clock to the logic, and then restarting it.
There may have been a logic timing problem not catching the clock edge correctly at power up, and thus not initializing the control chip.

Since that initial blind pin grounding resurrecting action, I've shut down and powered up the Chimp several times, and it hasn't gone back into it's comatose state (yet).

The Chimpanzee User's Manual (who doesn't need one of those!) doesn't mention any capability to store operating states between power offs. It states that to purge all programming, and reset the Chimp, it just needs to be switched off and back on. That implies there was no way for the previous owner to have put the Chimp in some sort of invalid operating state, and have it "stick" between power cycles.

Time will tell whether the Chimp slips back into a coma.

Update- Here's a youtube upload of the powerup initialization that the chimp now performs.


Some more chimp tricks. Just some additional response buttons on the remote.


WarPig's picture

Hi! I obtained a chimp basically the same way: online clearance house. The chimp starts and goes through the head shake, etc., then goes into a rather passive"auto" mode. He'll sometimes track movements, eyes move, head moves. If I flick his ear or tap his head, he'll get more animated. But the remote does not work. I put in a new battery, the "on" light comes on, but no control.

I also want to use him for Halloween: I'll be grafting the head to a zombified skeleton to make a Zombie Chimp. If I could just set him in "aggressive" or "guard" mode manually, I'd be all set.

Any ideas?


Bigmatti's picture

Hi.... ive been trying everywhere for WowWee Chimpanzee Alive i so need sone for a show i want to do in January... if anyone know where i can get one shipped to the UK.... please help