Elmo Live Dissected

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Artex's picture
Hey again.

Hey again.
I'm new to robotics but cant wait to get started.

Besides the elmo what equipment will I need to successfully hack elmo

RetroPlayer's picture
Artex, you probably wouldn't

Artex, you probably wouldn't need much more than an arduino and a motorshield for it. Then you could just replace the electronics all together. That may be easier than trying to hack him. Man, I am so far behind on all my personal projects. :(


This one controls up to 4 DC motors. You might need to do some IO expansion to include enough IO for the encoders and buttons, too.

If/when I ever get time to mess with it again, I will be replacing the electronics. Not much patience for hacking it as-is, though it was interesting to try to find secret stuff. Just never actually found anything.

Good luck!

sevik's picture
Welcome back RP :))

Welcome back RP :))

RetroPlayer's picture
Sevik, never really left. I

Sevik, never really left. I have lurked off and on for quite some time now. Just haven't had the time to get involved in any projects in a very long time. Seems I had much more time when I worked the night shift.

I was just looking at the original date of this thread. It was almost exactly 3 years ago. And out of all the stuff I have posted, this one has been the most popular. Go figure. lol

Did you ever do anything with the Elmo I sent you, Sevik?

sevik's picture
Not Yet :)

Not Yet :)

deelzbub's picture
Retro- Hope you find time to

Retro- Hope you find time to work on your Elmo again soon. Looking forward to learning how to change the sound (soundcard/MP3/whatever) on a robot like this. I have a Fur Real cat that I want to teach to talk.

Buttafly's picture
Hi there. I have this elmo

Hi there. I have this elmo live given to my daughter 2 years ago on the birth of her baby sister and no one has played with it. Just gave it to them today and it's mouth/neck keeps making a clicking sound when it talks. When switched off, I can move its head forward and mouth opens itself. Can't really move it back except for when I pinch the fur back and that pulls the head back slightly and mouth opens. No rattling sound in the hea. When on and it's speaking, have tried to hold rad straight but it makes a constant clicking sound but doesn't fix the problem. I have the packaging and receipt but purchased in dec 2009 so toys r us won't do anything now. I have no idea what to do, please help. Thanks

goga13's picture

My name is George.
I from Russia the city of Moscow.
Wanted to learn from you, it is possible
To reprogram robot Elmo Live.
That he could speak Russian

kandsjunk's picture
okay...i know this thread is

okay...i know this thread is old but thought i'd try. so, I have the same clicking a lot of people comment about. I removed the fur and see the encoder is in the correct position already (facing away from wires or forward when elmo is in neutral position). I took out the motor anyway and moved the head freely...however, the encoder does not rotate like the post said it would. It does if I push the wiper up a bit from the forward/neutral position and then move the head or if I push it down a bit from forward/neutral position and move head...but it seems to be stuck in forward/neutral position...which I assume is why it is clicking. I hope that makes sense. His mouth does open at times but only in the extreme positions...looking up or leaning forward. Can anyone tell me what I can do next? Thanks so much!!

kandsjunk's picture
got it...gear box for head

got it...gear box for head stripped. grrr. not sure how to fix that. wonder if the company sells those replacement parts??

kbc's picture


My daughter has an elmo live which when he starts to dance and bends over he stays hunched over. How could I repair this?

erricsimmons's picture
RetroPlayer said: First let

RetroPlayer said: First let me warn you, if you have small children that love Elmo with all their heart, you may not want to let them view this thread. :) For all the help Sevik has given me while working on reverse-engineering the Elvis bust, I decided I needed to send him a thank you gift. I was originally going to send him a bust since he didn't even have one, but he isn't so much into that anyway. So I stumbled on the Elmo Live (which actually JUST hit the stores...) After showing him some videos he decided he must have one. So, I pre-ordered two of them and one will be shipped off to the Ukraine to meet its new happy owner.  HI, SEVA! But... one of them had to be opened up. And this is the story... First of all, let's go over his movements. Elmo Live can stand or sit, and can cross his right leg in the sitting position. Each of his arms move up and down. His right arm also is also articulated at the elbow to allow him to bring his hand to his mouth. His neck moves back and forth and his head can rotate upwards Finally his mouth opens and closes There are only 3 motors and 3 encoders to provide all of the movements. There is some trickery in how the movements are done and what must be some very interesting cams and clutches inside the two gearboxes within the torso. Obviously, I was a little disappointed about this, but it still has some potential, I think. Unbelievably, as much as I find Elmo annoying, this toy is actually pretty entertaining (he is just a little too loud, though.) He has some cute stories, games, and animations. This generated a small amount of sympathy while I was skinning the fella. Elmo has four switches that allow you to interact with him. Left foot, back, belly, and his nose. He also has a tilt switch in his left foot, which is weighted by the batteries. While fully fur-clad, it really looks like he has a ton of articulation and his movements are very fast, springy, and life-like. The illusion is well done and all of the stories, etc... are programmed to make great use of his limited movements. Overall, a very well engineered toy that looks hard to break. I will be "toying" around with this for a bit to see what kind of mayhem I can wrought. This thread will detail my adventures. So far, I have managed to remove all of his fur without damaging it and will be posting the pictures and a how-to soon. I took 22 pictures just for the process of removing the fur, so it might be a little long for a forum thread. For now, I present: Elmo Live Dissected

Yeah, there are very cool robot's pictures has been posted by you over here. I like it a lot, I think they all are one robot. I am interested to buy it, would you like to sell me? One thing let me know you that price is no matter. 

Steph's picture
My elmo alive and recently

My elmo alive and recently stopped speaking, he still moves ok and opens his mouth but appears to have laryngitis!!! I have replaced the batteries but this hasn't helped, any suggestions

OneSxyOne's picture
Hello. I have been reading

Hello. I have been reading through the threads and I realize they are old, but I have an issue with my Elmo Live I cannot find brought up here. Even with the demo mode strip removed, elmo only says the demo mode phrase "elmo loves you, muah". He did read and do all the things he is supposed to for a brief time. The batteries are brand new. I have replaced them with 2 sets. How can I override this flaw and get elmo to once again operate in full mode?

Boogla's picture
I have one that gets half way

I have one that gets half way through his chat and stops! Would any of you guys like to have it as a project? Seems a shame to throw him away!!

Tis the season to be jolly, tra la la la la (elmo style)!!

Elmo falling over
Elmo falling over's picture
Hello everyone, I bought an

Hello everyone, I bought an elmo live for my 2 year old a couple of years ago, after a few weeks, it suddenly started stuttering it's speech and made a noise like it was struggling to move its legs, then it just clicks and falls over every time . I didn't have much time to do anything with it, so it was out in the loft, I am now wondering if it would be possible to repair/fix it, as I hate throwing good toys away, it would be such a waste.

Ay help would be greatly appreciated.


RetroPlayer's picture
Sorry for the lack of

Sorry for the lack of response to everyone. The problem isn't so much fixing elmo, but putting him back together. If you have the means to do that nearly every problem mentioned on here is related to either shorts in wiring or the encoders have slipped position and need to be moved back. Elmo is a rather simple toy, so unless some plastic piece is physically broken (unlikely) he should be fairly simple to repair. Again, taking him apart is easy, putting him back together is not so easy.

Geoffrey's picture
We just picked up our Elmo

We just picked up our Elmo live doll. What an amazing little robot.

We have a problem, when Elmo begins to ponder on which story to tell he begins to cross his right leg over his left. This is where our problem. He begins to tip and eventually topples over.

I am not to sure what he actually does after he crosses hi legs.

Can anyone assist me?

Thank you very much.

RetroPlayer's picture
That's not unusual. He came

That's not unusual. He came with a seat that he sits on in that position.

Belinda's picture
Hello- My problem is Elmo has

Hello- My problem is Elmo has not been played with but a few times and I took him out one day and my daughter accidentally pushed him over and he hit the floor. He want stand anymore. So I took him apart and realized a plastic part on his leg broke. Tried some super glue but his leg still not working. I just need leg from knee down on battery side fixed. Any suggestions?