Elvis Cartridge has been hacked (updated: Article is on the way)

361 posts / 0 new
Last post
Nocturnal
Nocturnal's picture

No idea. Unfortunately the guy doesn't seem to work for parallax anymore, so the email address isn't valid. I found this, which links to the now non existent thread.

http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2006/01/120_alive_chimpanzee_says_hack....

sevik
sevik's picture
roschler
roschler's picture

I just tried that link and it "Not in archive".

sevik
sevik's picture

works for me...

jmccorm
Registered Member
Date Joined Sep 2004

Total Posts : 16
Posted 1/3/2006 11:13 AM (GMT -7)

www.sharperimage.com/us/en/catalog/productdetails/sku__WW258

I was searching for hackables and I came across this one. I don't have any details, but this looks like it would make for an interesting hack experience.

Quite amazing and you may want to check out the video. It is a monkey head on a bust. Has various touch sensors. Can move head up/down left/right. Eyes move. Jaw opens and closes. Also has a remote control (looks like an airplane remote with two joysticks plus buttons) for some remote control features.

....

GWJax
GWJax's picture

roschler said: I just tried that link and it "Not in archive".

you need to read down the posts and you find the program. you may also need to set up an account too for the parallax fourm. don't worry its free

Nocturnal
Nocturnal's picture

No, you don't need an account. You can view the copy in the web archive (it works for me btw) without one. Having an account will not allow you to see the original thread.

I believe its in the EFX forum, which is apparently defunct, so they made it private, to everyone. Which seems stupid to me, but they may have had a good reason.

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

I too had tried to follow that thread some time back and saw that most of it was gone. And I stumbled on it only a couple of weeks after it started.

I have the Chimp, but as I recall, replacing all of his electronics was pretty much the only way to get him to do anything you wanted.

Though, he did have a full function joystick remote, so I guess a computer interface to the remote might get movement at least.

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

I just received the pogo pins today, and I made a drilling template the other day, so now I just need to find a block of time to drill 108 holes in a piece of acrylic, attach 108 tiny wires, and get everything mounted in a modified base.

This will get the logic analyzer set up as well as allowing me to probe everything easier while Elvis is fully functional.

I am still waiting for the Tsop48 ZIF socket to install in place of the flash. Once I have all of the parts and get this all put together, I expect alot of progress to be made.

So who has built a cartridge, yet? :) I am going to need lots of input (and help) on a program to write the animations. It's going to need to get done whether he is under PC control or not.

Nocturnal
Nocturnal's picture

*Laughs* Only 108, that shouldn't take to long.

No elvis, no cartridge. I don't think it was even ever released here (I could be wrong).

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

Nocturnal,

Well, I don't actually need the whole 108 pins. I was just being melodramatic. :)

Probably around 80 give or take a few. Many of the pins are just power and ground.

But yes, it is still going to be a nerve wracking experience for me. I wasn't born with alot of patience. :)

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

So how many people actually DO have the Elvis here? :) It can't be just GWJax, 4mem8 (who has been notably absent from this thread... I'll have to PM him), and me.

Nocturnal
Nocturnal's picture

:) Neither was I. That's why my workbench has a TV on it, to keep me entertained during those long boring repetitive tasks.

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

Ever notice how that lack of patience always seems to make things take longer?

Nocturnal
Nocturnal's picture

*Laughs* No never, just like the well known "short cut" always lives up to its name.

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

Speaking of which. I shot some video of Elvis playing back all the hidden stuff from the main board flash (thanks to Sevik's help to extract them), but my firewire cable is not working. I'll grab a new cable and hopefully post something this weekend. Some of the routines are kinda funny.

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

Here is a (very poor) video of Elvis playing back all of the routines from the on-board flash. They were extracted from the flash, separated and put on the custom cartridge as monologue files.

Some of them are not working and I am not sure if that was an extraction problem or they just weren't proper in the first place, but most of them are there.

I tried to give him some time in between so that it was obvious which routines were separate, but if you wait too long, he will throw in a random clip, which he did in a couple of spots.

Anyway, enjoy. I will try to make a better video. I am adding a line-out to his audio so I can dub in his voice without all the motor noise, which is obviously what they did for his promotional video :).

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

I am starting a list of generic mods that I will be doing to Elvis as I work on him. Just some things that I found would be convenient.

Nothing really worthy of its own article, I think unless I get through them all and then just make one article with all of them.

Here's what I have come up with so far (I have not impelemented all of them yet):
1. Remote power on/off
2. New remote enclosure/custom remote
3. Infrared receivers and trackers installed in the chest (IR will go through most fabric just fine.. I have a T-shirt on Elvis in the video.
4. Line out for audio for separate amp
5. Finding a way to quiet down the motors! LOL
6. Removing his sideburns, cutting/coloring his hair
7. Some way of keeping him powered on
8. Motion sensor to go with the cartridge mod (until we have computer control)

Feel free to add some ideas if you have some. If I like it, I will implement it and document them.

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

Speaking of the sideburns:

What I did here was soften up the area with a hair dryer (be very careful not to distort the rubber) and then using tweezers and needlenose pliers, I carefully pulled the hair out. You have to be very careful to pull straight out or it will rip the skin. If you do rip it just a little, it won't be very noticeable, but still be careful. Pulling the hair out from the back would probably be even better, but they melted the hairs all together on the back side and obviously you would have to remove the skin to do it. I wanted to try doing it in a way that didn't require removing the skin.

I tried to use isopropyl alcohol to smooth the area a little by rubbing it with my fingers. I don't think it actually helped. Follow it with water immediately if you try it, because the alcohol is a very mild solvent. It can also be used to soften the rubber for any stubborn hairs to keep from ripping the skin. This it seemed to help with.

Clean the area as you pull the hairs out. It is going to make a mess and you need to be able to see which areas still need to be removed.

In the picture above, there are two areas with hair still in them. This is where I used too much heat and melted the hair. It shrank them very small and melted them together. I probably won't be able to remove them without ripping the skin a little.

Overall, it came out OK, I think. The pores are still visible (at least up close) and I might experiment with a bit stronger solvent to get them to weld shut, but that is all for today. Overall, it took me about 15 minutes to remove one sideburn. This method should be possible to do without removing the skin from the head. I tested it on the skin I had removed already from my first Elvis, though. 

One thing I thought of trying when I was already far into it was to use low temp hot glue on the hair to help clump it together for pulling. Almost like waxing for real hair. The danger I see with that is the hot glue melting the rubber skin if it gets on it and too big of clumps might have you pulling the hairs at an angle, which will will rip the skin. I might try it later on the other side.

Just for information about the skin: It appears to me to be a thermoplastic material (like hot glue), so it probably won't react to most solvents unless they are very strong or left on for a long period of time. It didn't appear to react at all to the alcohol that I used, but I cleaned it off with water to be safe. It definitely reacts to heat, which might be useful for reshaping it later. I would think that adding material under the skin and gluing it down might be enough to add features to the face, but a heat source might be helpful for features that stretch the skin in a wierd way. I think the face is pretty generic and a new hair job and removal of the sideburns is probably enough to make him into an entirely different character. I am planning to look into modifying his lip sneer into a upper lip arch, for helping with smiling and vowel shapes.

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

Left side. Most hair removed from the back

Right side. Hairs pulled from the front

roschler
roschler's picture

[OFF-TOPIC a bit] Is there a way to feed the Elvis bust audio that he will lip synch too, custom monlogues etc., without having to hack the cartridge. I thought that he could do that when I bought him, but I'm not sure now. I tried the microphone input jack and all it does is play the audio out through his speaker, he doesn't lip synch to it.

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

Nope, unfortunately. Either way you will need to hack him.

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

And that wasn't off-topic at all :)

GWJax
GWJax's picture

I agree you have to hack the electronics and most likly add additional circuits to it unless you can figgure out the proper scripts for the mouth movements and then you still have to embed the script into every audio you want to send to him.

roschler
roschler's picture

Too bad. You guys know better but I thought they may have skipped the manual intensive labor of "hand-synching" or "hand-tagging" the monologue files for face movements and simply added a volume/frequency analyzer to make the face motors do certain movements based on the volume envelope. If they got fancy, the frequency content of the currently played waveform might be analyzed too. On the other hand, they might simply just randomly add in a famous Elvis gesture like the lip curl for effect. If that was the case, it might be possible to jack in right before that circuit and deliver custom audio which would then make use of that analyzer circuit, assuming that such a circuit existed of course.

GWJax
GWJax's picture

That is exactly what I have planned for the Elvinator, but all brains in the elvis will be removed in my end hack with a sync circuit to eleminate the song from the voice and use that to control the mouth movements and have the computer move the rest. As retroplayer is going down another venture for this.
Jax

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

Roschler,

They used optical motion capture for the animations. They took an Elvis impersonator and put markers on his face for each of the motor points and then he recorded his voice-overs. Then, they used a program with a joystick for some of the rougher movements and to adjust the animations to make them fit properly.

Some of the animations in the video above, the ones that were not used, look probably like non-adjusted raw captures.

Scott

roschler
roschler's picture

@GWJax,

Can't wait to see it.

@RetroPlayer,

Thanks, great to get the background story. I'm impressed and surprised they went to all that trouble, seeing as the unit can't really recreate the nuances of complex facial expressions (what a strange world it will be when they can, eh?); hence my thought they might use real time audio analysis. Still it's way ahead of any other animatronic bust in its price range, amazingly so at the $70 USD price I picked it up for.

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

I think he can be pretty realistic with the right animations. I think they exaggerated movements to make him seem more "exciting."

Although, he definitely needs some mods done to his mechanics. I am going to be looking into converting his lip sneer into a better upper lip movement.

There are also two unused motor groups in the animations. I think these were originally cheek movements that allowed him to smile or what not. If these can be added back in (I will know more after getting my LA setup going) this face will be pretty realistic.

roschler
roschler's picture

Yes he can, but by complex expressions I'm in effect referring to the fact that we have nearly 100 muscles in the human face. Also, I don't know if they did this because they had to to avoid burning out the servos, but Elvis mouth movements do not keep up with the words being spoken during periods of rapid speech. He's great for sure, but some time in the not too distant future there's going to be androids that will fool us until we put them through something like the BladeRunner emotion reaction test.

RetroPlayer
RetroPlayer's picture

Well, when they make those, we will hack them too :)

Pages