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October 24, 2008 09:59 PM

Categories: Rovio

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Joined: 10/04/2008

Here are some photos of the insides of Rovio....

 The base:

The front section of base showing two wheel motors and mount for (lame) LED headlight and collision avoidance:

The underside of the top plate showing LEDs and motor for raising camera boom:

The controller board:

The power section board:

Another view of the whole base:

The underside of the IC board that all the LEDs are wired to:

Another view of the underside of the top plate showing the boom motor:

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-15 of 31 | Latest Comment | 1 2 3 Next »

October 24, 2008 11:00 PM

A few more of the top part of camera boom (where camera is housed).

 The camera and it's controller board:

Further down the boom, you can see where the wiring goes through the hinge into the lower part of the boom:

A better view of the chip on the camera board:

The backside of the boom top cover showing the board under the nav window:

October 24, 2008 11:34 PM

Excellent pics tome. Let the hacking being, er, continue! :)

Nanabot - And One Robot To Rule Them All The under $100 game playing, conversational robot

October 25, 2008 8:43 AM

roschler said: Excellent pics tome. Let the hacking being, er, continue! :)

Thanks.  If anyone wants the original images (large) they are here:


October 26, 2008 9:37 AM updated: October 26, 2008 9:52 AM

One more.  The underside of the camera IC board.

The original is posted at the previous link.

October 26, 2008 11:27 AM updated: November 5, 2008 6:27 PM

Thanks for the excellent photos.
Some chip commentary: (revised theory, looks like the "W99802" was a red herring)

On the top side of the camera/WiFi board you can see the Marvell CPU chip (marked ARM 2702M...). Looks like a Marvell "PXA270M" ARM processor (formerly 'XScale').

The ARM CPU runs the main firmware/program (including CameraTest.bin running under eCos).
It uses the open-source 'libertas' library to access the Marvell chip WiFi features. Also it includes the Marvell proprietary 'microcode' downloaded into the Marvell hardware at startup from a binary image. This part is not open source.

October 26, 2008 8:37 PM

RobosapienPet said:  ---- Also that plastic thing in the middle on the top of the board. Is that a CF/SD socket?

If you are referring to the long black connector thingy, it is a connector that the daughter card is plugged into.  The daughter card, I am assuming, is the wifi card.

Thanks for the chip run down.  I was going to try to look them up...

October 26, 2008 10:45 PM

I didn't notice any sort of available port in those pictures. Something that might be used to connect other input or output, or perhaps a TTL level serial connection. It would seem the Rovio is closed, as far as hardware is concerned.

I guess an alternative is for a separate mobile computer to connect via the USB port, and for that computer to serve as the master. I had hoped that the Rovio could serve as the master to control some other additions such as a vacuum.

Joe Dunfee

November 5, 2008 2:13 PM updated: November 5, 2008 2:19 PM

i am not done researching this but this is i have found so far




by looking at the great pics by tome #11 zoomed shows a windbond chip that could be this (wish tome could have cleaned the yellow dot off) hope this helps !!!!

November 5, 2008 6:17 PM updated: November 5, 2008 6:28 PM

FWIW: I finally took my Rovio apart:
I'll post a few additional photos soon, including the insides of the NorthStar module (uses an MC56F8013 and looks very cool)

> (wish tome could have cleaned the yellow dot off)
That WinBond chip is a WinBond W99100DG. Can't find specs, but it looks like the Flash ROM (with 8051 CPU?? -- not enough pins for an ARM class CPU)
So it looks like my two ARM CPU theory is incorrect.
I guess the Marvell ARM chip does all the main CPU heavy lifting.
> I didn't notice any sort of available port in those pictures.
There are (at least) two serial ports.
They are at the bottom of this photo: http://bgp.nu/~tom/pub/rovio/_DSC8017.jpg
They are well labelled. One goes to the NorthStar board (to underside of board here: http://bgp.nu/~tom/pub/rovio/_DSC8011.jpg)
The other goes to the main robot to the "mcu" motor controller.

I haven't found any additional serial ports (eg: for a debug terminal). Those four unsoldered holes look suspicious.
Without them you may have to piggy-back one of the existing protocols.

November 5, 2008 7:25 PM


page 15 of this presentation has reference to W99100DG with uc8051 marking...

Free RoboPanda!!! :)

Yes! If something has a dump, it must be hacked :))

November 5, 2008 7:30 PM updated: November 5, 2008 7:37 PM

Thanks robosapienPet for the insite :)

with this info i found this


you are correct it is a 8051 uC (page 12, 15, 18)

it may just boot as in page 18 shows

it may use a gps engine with ecos (page 9)

so how does this twist the plot ?

November 5, 2008 8:07 PM

> so how does this twist the plot ?
This level of detail probably doesn't matter for most hacking. If it is only a 8051 uC, for bootstrapping and/or peripheral control, then not important unless we can find some unused signals to steal.
The rest is mostly a curiosity on how the rovio is put together (eg: where is the RAM and ROM?)
The real technical specs we could use is for the processor, the "2702M".

November 5, 2008 8:24 PM updated: November 5, 2008 8:34 PM

Additional photos: The NorthStar module is located at the top of the robot. The circular cover over the sensor array pops out of the plastic robot cover. The module is mounted on a board which connects to the main one over serial. Here's what it looks like inside.

Top side of cover, bottom side of board (including Digital Signal Processor chip)

Top side of board with 3D pyramid shaped sensor (? and a pinhole camera in the middle ?)

Higher res versions: http://aibohack.com/rovio/ns1.jpg

November 10, 2008 6:41 AM updated: November 10, 2008 6:41 AM

RobosapienPet said:
Those four unsoldered holes look suspicious.

Just a thought, Rovio's firmware is under the belief it has two network connections, wlan0 and eth1

RoboGuide - Your guide to hacking all things WowWee

November 10, 2008 9:41 AM

re: ethernet
I'll have to probe the 4 pins more.
Overall that jives with my suspicions. I suspect they developed it using LAN debugging (not a serial port).
The Rovio eCos image includes "BOOTP" over wlan0 and other diagnostic print features. Another place where open source would help open a tidal-wave of Rovio improvements.

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