create an i-cybie cartridge...

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altwolf
altwolf's picture
create an i-cybie cartridge...

So, I love my I-cybies. I have 2 now: 1 blue and 1 gold. Since I got them I have been searching high and low for the expansion cartridge and programmer that came out, but with no luck. It seems to be quite rare.

RetroPlayer's Elvis cartridge hack got me thinking... I wondered if I could somehow make my own expansion cart. I googled around and after many hours discovered a spanish website with lots of interesting info about the cartridge. Unfortunately, the Google translation of the page leaves something to be desired.

You can see it here, if you are curious:  http://www dot 3drogue dot com/translate_c.htm 

(replace the word "dot" with actual ".") last time I posted a link, i got spammed all to hell, so I will try it this way.

Anyway, I-cybie came with a "dummy" cartridge in its expansion slot. I was lead to believe it was of no interest, so i never really looked at it beyond taking it out and putting it back in.

Last night however, I got curious. I took it out of cybie and removed its little screws. Inside I found the actual PCB for the real cart! It looks like it's all set to have it's parts soldered on! Woot! The web page I listed above lists the memory chips used on the cart and says they are cheap.

So, here's my question. I suck at soldering. Even if I was decent, the PCB is tiny. It looks like something a machine would be best at making. So, Where would I look for someone who might be able to solder the components onto the board? Maybe a computer repair place? I have no clue....

 

RebelTaz
RebelTaz's picture

altwolf said:
So, I love my I-cybies. I have 2 now: 1 blue and 1 gold. Since I got them I have been searching high and low for the expansion cartridge and programmer that came out, but with no luck. It seems to be quite rare.
RetroPlayer's Elvis cartridge hack got me thinking... I wondered if I could somehow make my own expansion cart. I googled around and after many hours discovered a spanish website with lots of interesting info about the cartridge. Unfortunately, the Google translation of the page leaves something to be desired.
You can see it here, if you are curious:  http://www dot 3drogue dot com/translate_c.ht 
(replace the word "dot" with actual ".") last time I posted a link, i got spammed all to hell, so I will try it this way.
Anyway, I-cybie came with a "dummy" cartridge in its expansion slot. I was lead to believe it was of no interest, so i never really looked at it beyond taking it out and putting it back in.
Last night however, I got curious. I took it out of cybie and removed its little screws. Inside I found the actual PCB for the real cart! It looks like it's all set to have it's parts soldered on! Woot! The web page I listed above lists the memory chips used on the cart and says they are cheap.
So, here's my question. I suck at soldering. Even if I was decent, the PCB is tiny. It looks like something a machine would be best at making. So, Where would I look for someone who might be able to solder the components onto the board? Maybe a computer repair place? I have no clue....

 

Wow! That is a fantastic web site (BTW you need to replace 'translate_c.ht' with 'translate_c.htm'). Anyway, I plan on spending more time studying that page. I saw that the programmer uses a PIC chip and a MAX232 level converter. Two of my favorite ICs. 

I would be happy to solder the memory chips to the board for you if you'd like. Just so you can have a little confidence in my abilities - I am a professional electgronics technician with over 15 years experience. I found the chips on Mouser.com for $1.80 each. If you wanted to donate a couple of chips my way - I probably wouldn't complain! Wink

Seriously, I'd be happy to do it for you, or anyone else who would like this done as long as they supply the parts. Just let me know. 

Thank you for this fantastic information!

sevik
sevik's picture

Building of working cartridge hardware is only one part of work :))

But building cartridge image and associated tasks is another part.

Are there existing software from vendor for cartridge development?

RobosapienPet
RobosapienPet's picture

Several comments:
FWIW: I don't recommend the approach used on that website, unless as a very last resort. They used that approach because they lived in Brazil (and couldn't get the parts or borrow a cartridge from a fellow iCybie owner)

If you have a blank board with traces (later cartridges were completely blank), and if you can find the long discontinued chips, and if you can competently solder the surface mount parts, you can build your own cartridge.
FWIW: It is possible to solder using a regular soldering iron, and some practice. I recommend the 'flow solder' approach. Slap on solder, use solder wick to remove  the excess.
BTW: There was much information on the old iCybie website (unfortunately gone now)
I don't recommend making your own cartridge unless that is the only alternative.
--------
There are other alternatives.

#1) Buy the downloader from SilverLit in HongKong. See icybie.com. $95+s/h. Delivery time can be slow. Customer service can suck. But it comes with a proper working cartridge.
#2) If you have a pre-Outrageous iCybie (before 2005): Build a cartridge (as mentioned above), and perform the "SIC" modification on the iCybie. You then only need to borrow a "CROMINST" cartridge for a one time upgrade.
Info here: http://www.aibohack.com/icybie/sic_rs232.htm
#3) If you can find a 'Walkup charger', it comes with a cartridge. A "SIC" modified iCybie can be used to program it. Also this approach can work with the newer post 2005 cartridges. They were often bundled with the 2005 re-release iCybies.

> But building cartridge image and associated tasks is another part.
> Are there existing software from vendor for cartridge development?
There was very little released by SilverLit.
All the good stuff is here: http://www.aibohack.com/icybie

----
ADDITIONAL NOTE: In the case of the iCybie all the programming code can be found on the cartridge or the internal program ROM (which has been disassembled/reverse engineered). That means it is possible to completely reprogram the robot with your own custom software (see the 'IC SDK v2'). This is different than the WowWee robot hacks (RSMedia, Panda, Elvis) which change the media data on the cartridge. The core program code remains hidden away in ROM chips inside the body.

altwolf
altwolf's picture

Yah I have all the programs I need. I have found TONS of software over the months for doing it all - hacking, reprogramming, etc. It is just that the HARDWARE is impossible to find. I even have the actual "downloader" program for the official I-cybie Downloader tool.

Here are some pics of the actual PCB that was hiding inside the "dummy" cartridge:

altwolf
altwolf's picture

Thanks for the infos RobosapienPet.
The Icybie.com website has long ago been taken down. Believe me, I have looked everywhere for anyone selling the cart/downloader/walkupcharger(which came with a cart so you could install the charger software update). There are alot of links to stores with a product page for the items, but then it always says "discontinued" or "out of stock".

RobosapienPet
RobosapienPet's picture

altwolf said: The Icybie.com website has long ago been taken down.

Sorry, my bad http://www.i-cybie.com/ (don't forget the dash)

The online sales button leads to http://www.3deshop.com/
Shows item in stock.
DISCLAIMER: I have used them in the past. But be warned they aren't fast ("Each Order Takes 4 to 6 WEEKS to delivery. ")

RebelTaz
RebelTaz's picture

I'm the type of person who would rather spend $50 and six months to build something that I could have bought for $20 - and I did when I built my BCD clock. Personally, I enjoy the challenge and the pride in building something myself as opposed to just using someone else's work. Besides that, I usually prefer the my own end design over the mass market consumer's idea of what something should look like. As a matter of fact, usually, after I build anything (models, electronics projects, rockets, whatever) they get put in a box never to see playtime again. It's the building that I enjoy - not the item.

In the case of this, I would much rather spend $5 on a couple of chips (maybe $12 with shipping) for the cartridge and I already have the PIC and MAX chips (which can be had as free samples from their respective companies, BTW). So to spend $95+ on something that I can do for less than $20 - to me that's a no brainer!

altwolf - what all software do you have for this? I might be interested in some of it, if you don't mind.

altwolf
altwolf's picture

RobosapienPet said:

altwolf said: The Icybie.com website has long ago been taken down.

Sorry, my bad http://www.i-cybie.com/ (don't forget the dash)
The online sales button leads to http://www.3deshop.com/
Shows item in stock.
DISCLAIMER: I have used them in the past. But be warned they aren't fast ("Each Order Takes 4 to 6 WEEKS to delivery. ")

hmmm, 

I had run across 3deshop.com before. I actually sent them an email asking about the i-cybie stuff and never recieved a reply. In actuality, the email was really to tell whether they were legit or even in business anymore.

RobosapienPet
RobosapienPet's picture

Commentary:
> Personally, I enjoy the challenge and the pride in building something myself as opposed to just using someone else's work.
I agree.
BUT I hope you see the irony in then saying you are ok using someone else's design for the programmer ;->

FWIW: That irked me with the '3drogue.com' programmer instructions came out ~3 years ago. It wasn't anything new. It was essentially a re-implementation of the commercial Downloader. It was perhaps the last iCybie hack during the death of the hacker community **. Sad to say it didn't build on the previous 4 years of iCybie hacks, it was simply a re-implementation of something that had been done 4 years earlier.

So if you want a challenge, ignore the instructions from the other website(s), and figure it out for yourself. If you want a cheaper solution, consider the "SIC" modification (much easier, and vastly superior if you plan on writing your own software since it gives you a debug serial connection)

** NOTE (except for the brilliant work by France CADET)
------
> I had run across 3deshop.com before....
Anecdotally (from the other BBS), many people complained about poor (no) customer service and slow deliver. AFAIK they never ripped off anyone.
AFAIK they are as 'legit' as you can get, as the official parts supplier of 'i-cybie.com' (the one owned by SilverLit). I have no association with them. Order as you see fit.

altwolf
altwolf's picture

A note: 3drogue is MY personal website. It has nothing to do with the Spanish/Brazil Programmer. I just saved the Google translated page to my site, so others wouldnt have to translate it.

RobosapienPet
RobosapienPet's picture

> A note: 3drogue is MY personal website....
Understood. No harm meant to your website. I was using it as a shorthand for the article that started the discussion. AFAIK the original author left the iCybie hacking scene long ago (like everyone else ;-

If you are so inclined, and have an older (pre-2005) iCybie, I still recommend the "SIC" modification.
http://www.aibohack.com/icybie/sic_rs232.htm
FWIW: I have a few spare (tested/working) cartridges that can be used for the one time CROMINST step, and anything else after that (the "SIC" serves as a programmer). If interested, send me an email (icybiepet@aibohack.com); while supplies last; USA only; void where prohibited by law...

Beating a dead horse: IMHO building a custom flash writer is a waste of your time. Soldering long-since-discontinued flash chips to a hard-to-humanly-solder PCB is a waste of your time. It is 2008.

--RobosapienPet (pimping for ICybiePet)

FREEEK
FREEEK's picture

I've won an I-Cybie on eBay and I wonder ... I didn't read all the stuff about this dog yet but that Cartridge helps programming the dog with a computer or what's the use? Undecided

RobosapienPet
RobosapienPet's picture

The default iCybie personality (built into the robot) is rather boring. It is not very active, and the few motions it performs can be repetitive.

A working cartridge (one with chips inside) can be used to download pre-made personalities, or create your own (using YICT) or do very low level robot programming (in "C"). There are several ways of programming them.
http://www.aibohack.com/icybie/index.html#IMAGES

Most users just want the improved personality. "zCybie" version 2 or later is the best. Much better than the default.

FREEEK
FREEEK's picture

Thanks RobosapienPet ... :)

Ariane
Ariane's picture

Hi,
I have ordered from 3deshop for i-cybie accessories before and didn't have too much of a problem until one day when I did have a problem with a subsequent order and only got half of what I ordered, there was no way to contact them except by e-mail but I never got an answer EVER, so yes I was totally ripped off. That was many months ago but I still feel angry about that.
Now they don't even exist anymore because their web server changed hands and let all their clients down, so now good service or not there are no i-cybie website anymore not even i-cybie.com their official website; it has gone too, all because the web server changed.
Does anyone know when either one will be up and running again? Where do we buy our accessories now?
Thanks for reading this,
Ariane

Ariane
Ariane's picture

Hi,
I have ordered from 3deshop for i-cybie accessories before and didn't have too much of a problem until one day when I did have a problem with a subsequent order and only got half of what I ordered, there was no way to contact them except by e-mail but I never got an answer EVER, so yes I was totally ripped off. That was many months ago but I still feel angry about that.
Now they don't even exist anymore because their web server changed hands and let all their clients down, so now good service or not there are no i-cybie website anymore not even i-cybie.com their official website; it has gone too, all because the web server changed.
Does anyone know when either one will be up and running again? Where do we buy our accessories now?
Thanks for reading this,
Ariane

Shai Alyt NEMO
Shai Alyt NEMO's picture

Hi, all i-Cybie owners!

Now I'm joined your ranks too. I've recently got an i-Cybie ("old" '2001 Silverlit-Tiger version).

The mechanics of i-Cybie looks impressive even for now. And that quite agile doggy is just crying for customizing his personality (default personality indeed is too straight-forward and boring).

But it seems impossible to find the original "Silverlit Downloader" now, even on eBay.

The famous "Super i-Cybie" hack from ( http://www.aibopet.com ) also is not an option for me as the author's proposal to "borrow" that mysterious CROMINST cartridge "from a friend" can only cause me a nervous laugh... Borrow, damn it!.. I doubt, that at the present time there is anyone else user of i-Cybie in Kiev besides me at all...

Given that, I'm seriously planning to make myself that DIY "Brazilian" programmer by

Luiz
Cressoni Filho
( http://www.robotic-lab.com/blog/tutoriales/como-hacer-un-programador-par... ). I'm already gathered almost all the componens for it, including PIC (and have it already programmed with "uploader.HEX" - "firmware" for the programmer). So, to make it is just a matter of time (hope, there is no critical mistakes in schematic).

But I don't have a functional cartridge also. Only a "dummy" with an empty PCB (like shown by Altwolf). And I'm still unable to find needed flash chips here in Kiev, Ukraine. So, maybe someone of more lucky American fellows from this community can buy some of that chips locally and send them to me? Then I will refund needed amount of money for chips and their shipping via, say, PayPal.

It will be an invaluable help for me!

Let's join our efforts and try to give our 'Cybies a new, better life! 

P.S.

To Altwolf: You wrote, you've gathered almost all possible info and files, related to i-Cybie? I'm particularly interested in alternative personalities and "sound themes" for Cybie. And maybe you were lucky to download the actual "crominst" file from  http://66.70.136.74/icybie/crominst11.zip before it was replaced by the message "CROMINST temporarily removed.
Will update with an Outrageous compatible version later."? If you've got it then (given a working cartridge programmer) it opens a possibility to finally perform a Super i-Cybie hack!

 

 

RebelTaz
RebelTaz's picture

I saved that page (translated, of course) a long time ago, but I never did get around to building it. You'll have to let us know how it turns out!

I did some quick searching this morning for you and found this:
http://www.sst.com/products/sample_request.dot
It's the 'sample request form' for SST, the company that makes that chip. They didn't have the SST39VF010-70-4C-WH, but they did list SST39VF010-70-4C-WHE. I went ahead and sent a request for 5 chips. Maybe as an actual service shop, I can swing getting my hands on some. If I do, and you haven't already ordered samples of your own, I'll be happy to send you one. I love 'sample request forms'!

Shai Alyt NEMO
Shai Alyt NEMO's picture

Thank you, RebelTaz! You are bringing me hope!

But for a cartridge at least two chips are needed. And given a manual soldering difficulty for such a small pins, I think, it would be wise to have at least four.

If you can BUY them for me (not just obtain as free samples), I'd be glad to have as much as ten (5 pairs) - just for reserve and for possible future attempts to make a totally self-made cartridge (using the part of PCI card edge connector)!

RebelTaz
RebelTaz's picture

I'll let you know as soon as they get back with me...

Lutcho
Lutcho's picture

Hello!
I know this is an old post, but if I can help, here I am.
I'm Luiz Cressoni Filho, the brazilian guy that developed the Cybie programmer. I was surfing around and just found this forum.

altwolf
altwolf's picture

Lutcho said: Hello! I know this is an old post, but if I can help, here I am. I'm Luiz Cressoni Filho, the brazilian guy that developed the Cybie programmer. I was surfing around and just found this forum.

Hey! Nice to hear from you! I have been away from the forums for a long time, so just saw your post today!

I actually DO wonder if you could do something. It is kind of a big favour though...

Judging from your post, you speak English/write English fairly well?

Would it be possible to translate your spanish web page with the instructions for the programmer into English? Translating that page using Google, etc. leaves it a little confusing sometimes.

If you don't have time, that is ok too. It would just be nice to have an actual translation from the guy who who actually wrote the page in the first place.

Lutcho
Lutcho's picture

Hi!
The project was originally in English (with my Brazilian-Portuguese accent, I'm afraid). That Spanish guy translated it and after that my site got offline.
So, I found the backup and uploaded the original files (in English) at
http://rapidshare.com/files/429646478/cybie_uploader_full.zip

Hope it can help. Building the programmer is quite easy if you know how to use the right tools: A PIC programmer (there are lots of free projects on the net - JDM is quite simple and works fine) and soldering skills are enough.

Just call me back if you need help.

Regards,
Luiz

altwolf
altwolf's picture

You are AWESOME! Thanks for posting that so quickly!

I have been wondering lately if it would be easier to just gut poor I-cybie and put my own Microcontroller inside to run everything...

I have a bunch of micros - Propeller, Arduino, BS2, etc. The hard part would be to get the original Cybie hardware (motors and sensors) to play well with a new controller.

Lutcho
Lutcho's picture

Well, first of all, I?ll be happy if the project is found to be useful.

About the programming part, I don?t know... I tried to write some code for the Cybie, but its lack of information made me feel like an Indiana Jones. The only thing that is a bit easy if to "tweak" the personalities. I may have a CD with all the stuffs I found on the net about the Cybie. If I find it (give me a week or so...) I?ll post here.
Maybe if you could use your own hardware and some sort of hi-level programming environment you end up with something that can be easily programmed.

Shai Alyt NEMO
Shai Alyt NEMO's picture

Hello, Lutcho!

Greetings to you as a bringer of hope to all iCybie enthusiasts remained! 

It's incredible to have you joined our Community! The world is really narrow!

Now I have all the components (thanks to RebelTaz) to attemt making my own working cartridge and my own copy of your Cybie programmer. It would be nice to read your original english article and have an ability to ask the author himself in case something will go wrong.

And also your collection of all iCybie-related stuff will be interesting if you could manage to find it and to publish on repidshare.

Anyway, it seems, your arrival kindled a new spark of the enthusiasm in me!

Stay tuned.

RobosapienPet
RobosapienPet's picture

This is a very old thread, but the problems and solutions haven't changed much in years.

Some comments:
See my earlier comments on this thread (I am repeating some of them here)

A prebuilt *working* cartridge along with the programmer is still available from Silverlit (http://www.3deshop.com/ - $95 plus world-wide shipping, PARALLEL port on Windows computer required)
This cartridge can be used with a Super i-Cybie.

If you have an older iCybie, turning it into a Super i-Cybie makes it both a cartridge programmer, and a development system for writing lower level programs (ie. it adds a serial port for programming and debugging)

Most of the personality files etc can be found on my website. Hasn't changed in years:
http://www.aibohack.com/icybie/index.html

> I have been wondering lately if it would be easier to just gut poor I-cybie and put my own Microcontroller inside to run everything...
IMHO this is impractical. Most of the iCybie processor's ports are hooked up to hardware (leg 'servos' etc). Rewiring those is a lot of busy work since the existing CPU is programmable.
If you need more brain power, attach a separate processor on top of the i-Cybie and control it with the serial port (ie. let the iCybie processor do the legs and motions).

> Maybe if you could use your own hardware and some sort of hi-level programming environment you end up with something that can be easily programmed.
Check out the IC SDK. It allows for more advanced programming. It comes with a "C" compiler, header files for all the low level functions, and a few (simple) samples. Great for a number of things.
http://www.aibohack.com/icybie/icsdk.htm

For tweeking the basic personality, use YICT.

Olivier
Olivier's picture

Hello All,
I just aquiered a I-Cybie for Santa gift, all was OK until I recieved a mail from the seller teeling me that the poor doggy has a bother with the battery. Apparently the battery is full but the doggy think its empty? The owner charged it for 6 hours prior shipping it to me to make sure all was OK. This might have killed the battery tho but the owner said the battery still work fine?
This is all new to me and I should receive it next week.
Any suggestion on what I can do to fix it? Santa cannot bring a broken gift :(
Thank you.
Olivier

Olivier
Olivier's picture

Helo All,
I just aquiered a I-Cybie for Santa gift, all was OK until I recieved a mail from the seller teeling me that the poor doggy has a bother with the battery. Apparently the battery is full but the doggy think its empty? The owner charged it for 6 hours prior shipping it to me to make sure all was OK. This might have killed the battery tho but the owner said the battery still work fine?
This is all new to me and I should receive it next week.
Any suggestion on what I can do to fix it? Santa cannot bring a broken gift :(
Thank you.
Olivier

altwolf
altwolf's picture

 

Olivier said: Helo All, I just aquiered a I-Cybie for Santa gift, all was OK until I recieved a mail from the seller teeling me that the poor doggy has a bother with the battery. Apparently the battery is full but the doggy think its empty? The owner charged it for 6 hours prior shipping it to me to make sure all was OK. This might have killed the battery tho but the owner said the battery still work fine? This is all new to me and I should receive it next week. Any suggestion on what I can do to fix it? Santa cannot bring a broken gift :( Thank you. Olivier

 

Hello Olivier.

I own two I-cybies. It is well known that the original batteries that came with the I-cybie are probably ruined by now. There was an error in the original instruction manual that came with the dog that instructed people to charge the battery in a manner that would ruin the battery.

It is my advice to anyone buying an I-Cybie dog to ALSO buy a new battery and charger (unless the seller has already upgraded the battery themselves). This will offer two benefits:

  • You get a fresh battery with a longer lifespan
  • Your new battery will last a much longer time between chargings. The original battery from 2001 was rated at 800 mAh (mAh=milli-amp hours= how long you can play between chargings. A higher number is better). I purchased a battery rated at 2100 mAh and it lasts much, much longer than the original.

A company called "Strikealite" sells two batteries designed specifically for the I-cybie: a 2100mAh and a 1200 mAh. I purchased mine from them. Make sure to get a charger for that battery as well, since the connector for the I-cybie battery is slightly unusual.

Hope this Helps.

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