Furbys - oldies but goldies!

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Shai Alyt NEMO
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Furbys - oldies but goldies!

Hi, Community!

I just want to share my impressions. 

Last weekend I had visited a flee market (i like to visit such a places, where occasionally an interesting things can be found at a laughable price). And spotted a Furby. An original one by Tiger Electronics, not one of that cheap McDonalds' imitations. With tags "Original Furby" and "(c)Tiger Electronics '1999" and in a good external condition. Bright yellow with orange tummy and ears inside. And when I asked for a price... it was less then $2 US! I was never interested in Furbys before but just cannot stand. It's an animatronic toy after all...

And my excitement was great, when I brourt ih home, inserted a batteries and woila! It's alive!

So, after a some disassembly, washing the furry "skin", cleaning and greasing the mechanism, I have a fully functional Furby Baby Generation 1 "Sunny Yellow". Like this:

(http://www.adoptafurby.com)

 Just one drawback - it's a German version, i.e. it speaks Furbish and Deutsch, not English. And I almost don't know Deutch. OK. I just learned some words (ich mich, sonne, spielen, liebe, etc.)...

So, enough history, let's go to impressions...

Also, I had never before considered Furby as serious robotic toy or toy-robot, I had changed my mind completely! It's not enough to say that it's not just a simple "talking teddy-bear". It's a shame, but it seems that this previous millennium artifact with just one electric motor and 3.58MHz 8-bit CPU is much more "personality-packed robot" then, say RSv1 or Femisapien, or todays Tiger Electronics/Hasbro creations like Furreal Friends Cat. Yes, it's mechanically simplistic (but very cleverly designed), but it have a whole bunch of sensors: 3 touch sensors (not capacitive - just a mechanical switches) for "tickle"(tummy), "pet"(back) and "feeding" (tongue inside a mouth/beak), 1-bit audio sensor (sound/no sound), 1-bit photosensor (light/darkness), 3-positional tilt ball-sensor (upright/lying down/upside-down) and IR-interface (emitter and receiver) to communicate with other Furbys.

The features that amazed me most:

1. It have a EEPROM (Flash), so it does not forget it's status upon battery discharge or replacement.

2. It have a name! The name is randomly selected from a (rather big) preprogrammed list (Ah-May, A-Loh, Ay-Tay, Boh-Bay, Boo, Dah, Kah Dah, Kah, Doo-Moh, E-Day, Koh-Koh, Loo-Loo, May-May, May-Lah, May-Lah Kah, Mee-Mee, Nah-Bah, Dah Noh-Lah, Noo-Loo, Toh-Dye, Toh-Loo, Toh-Loo Kah, U-Tye, Way-Loh) upon a Full Reset (called Re-Start in manual) and then stored in EEPROM and automatically substituted in Furby's phrases. Mine was initially "A-Loh" but after a full restet became "Kah".

3. You can "tell" (select by touch sensors, when it prompts you) it to call you "mommy" or "daddy"! Again it is stored in EEPROM. 

4. It's reactons to sensors stimuli are variable enough to be not very predictable and borig (including yawns, farts, laughs, sort of purrs, yum-yums etc...). And that depends on it's status or "mood". I.e. if it is "hungry" or "ill", it will not laugh or sing a songs but will complain to "mommy" or "daddy".

5. It's "lips" or "beak" opens and closes in sync with the words it says.

6. The need to learn Furbish to understand it is an interesting idea! Unfortunately, Furby Babies "learn" (begin to speak) Human Language (Deutsch in my case) instead of Furbish just too quick for me. I even think of full-resetting it again. As I have read, Adult Furbies have a longer "learning curve" so  one can enjoy learning Furbish a longer time after a full reset.

So, my verdict is - Furby is a legendary animatronic or robotic creature. A definite golden classic, in some cases unsurpassed even now, 10 years after it's debute!

P.S. I just ordered some cheap used V1 Adult Furbys on eBay for further experimenting. According to manual, Adults seem to have some more functionality than Babies: dancing (tilting body forward/back in sync with a singing a (preprogrammed) songs) and a "conditional reflexes", so user can "reinforce" a specific reaction of Furby to a specific stimuli by "petting" it (pressing it's back sensor twice) after it performs a desired "bodycon".  Hope, they will be English.

P.P.S. It would also be interesting to try a year 2005 "Version 2" of Furby, officially called "Emoto-tronic Furby" in contrast to years 1998-2000 "Version 1" "Electronic Furby"...

 

 

 

 

idrum289
idrum289's picture

Hmm, my niece got one of those as a present years ago. I wonder if she's still got it?

RebelTaz
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That is an awesome find! I personally have probably about ten of the various Furby incarnations. I need to take pictures to put on my web site to go along with the three or four already there. I've never come across a foreign Furby. You didn't mention if you got a manual, but if you need manuals for any Furby, you can get them from my web site. Enjoy your new found interest...

Shai Alyt NEMO
Shai Alyt NEMO's picture

Thank you RebelTaz! You have an avesome collection of a vintage robotic toys with short reviews and manuals! Good work!

I have already downloaded a manuals for an Adult and a Baby Furbies at the Hasbro site.

BTW, my "hunt for Furbies" continues... Yesterday I have found another Furby in a nearly perfect external condition at the second hand clothing market for nearly $3 US equivalent. It's a Generation 5 adult Furby - "Koala" color scheme. Like this:

Unfortunately, there was deeply discharged cheap zinc-carbon batteries in his batthery compartment. Of course, they are leaked an heavily corroded the contacts. There is some corrosion on the main board also. But i think, it's quite cleanable and fixable.  Now his skin is hanging drying arfet a wash and body is apart for cleaning/repair. It would be nice to bring him "alive" again!

As a next step, I think about making a codebase for NoviiRemote to "control" or rather "stimulate" a furbies...

RebelTaz
RebelTaz's picture

Shai Alyt NEMO said:
Thank you RebelTaz! You have an avesome collection of a vintage robotic toys with short reviews and manuals! Good work!
I have already downloaded a manuals for an Adult and a Baby Furbies at the Hasbro site.
BTW, my "hunt for Furbies" continues... Yesterday I have found another Furby in a nearly perfect external condition at the second hand clothing market for nearly $3 US equivalent. It's a Generation 5 adult Furby - "Koala" color scheme. Like this: 
Unfortunately, there was deeply discharged cheap zinc-carbon batteries in his batthery compartment. Of course, they are leaked an heavily corroded the contacts. There is some corrosion on the main board also. But i think, it's quite cleanable and fixable.  Now his skin is hanging drying arfet a wash and body is apart for cleaning/repair. It would be nice to bring him "alive" again!
As a next step, I think about making a codebase for NoviiRemote to "control" or rather "stimulate" a furbies...

 

Hmm.. I never thought of using NoviiRemote for the Furbys since they diddn't have remotes of their own. If you do, I would be happy to add them to my codebase list on my site. 

Ahhh, why people cannot seem to remove batteries from electronics when they aren't using them! I cannot count the number of robots I have had to repair because of that. But on the other hand, that is why I am able to get them so cheaply, so I guess it's good for me. Wink

idrum289
idrum289's picture

My niece still has her Furby. She doesn't want it. I think it still works.....

Shai Alyt NEMO
Shai Alyt NEMO's picture

Yesterday, I finished cleaning him, fixed some corroded lines on his PCB and greased his mechanism with a silicone oil.
And... it's "alive" now! Kah Mee-Mee Noo-Loo (Me Very Happy)!!! Smile

This specimen is English, his name is Toh-Loo. 

For now they both are without a skins, because I am thinking about making a simple microphone amplifiers for them (like that, I made for Femisapien) to improve their "hearing" range. After a final assembly I plan to Full Reset (Re-Start) them, so they will forget their "past lives", begin a "new life" from scratch and randomly choose a new names. 

About an IR-control of Furbys:

Every Furby have a bi-directional (transmitter and receiver) IR-interface. They are using it to chat with another Furbys or Furby Friends like:

Shelby

Gizmo

E.T.  

or even a Master Yoda himself!

        

This IR-interface is quite simplistic and offers only 16 "commands" for Adult Furbies or 32 for Furby Babies (I don't know anyting about a Shelbys, Gizmos, E.T.s and Yodas). So it's rather about sending some IR-"stimuli" to Furbys, triggering some (variable) reactions, not actually "controlling" them.

Here: http://www.veg.nildram.co.uk/furby.htm is a (long time forgotten) page by one clever man, called Blank Frank on Furbys IR-protocol and how to use it. There's even a DOS-program

http://www.veg.nildram.co.uk/furby.exe

to send IR-packets to Furby via a self-made "IR-thingy":

 

So, I plan to follow Frank's recomendations, make a "thingy" (or maybe, Lego IR Serial Tower will do?), boot DOS from a floppy and try it. And if it works, I will try to capture packets it sends with NoviiRemote and make a "Furby controller" codebase! Of course I would be happy to share it with a community.

 

 

Shai Alyt NEMO
Shai Alyt NEMO's picture

to idrum289: So, if she isn't interested in it, may be she will give it to you?

wowweefan
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I have 50 original furbys and 1 new

RebelTaz
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wowweefan said:
I have 50 original furbys and 1 new

 

Now that's dedication!

idrum289
idrum289's picture

Shai Alyt NEMO said: to idrum289: So, if she isn't interested in it, may be she will give it to you?

I'm about to clear it with her parents but it looks like the Furby will be mine. Wink

GWJax
GWJax's picture

I was going to do a mod on one of my adult furbies but had a second thought of it. But I did open one hehe.. I forget where I seen a complete detail hack on them, I believe it's in one of my, over 2000 e-books on robotics and electronics. If I come across it I'll let you all know what book it's in..

Jax

Shai Alyt NEMO
Shai Alyt NEMO's picture

to GWJax: It seems, that there was once a "Furby upgrade kit", made and sold in a small quantities by someone in the Net:

http://hackfurby.homestead.com/

AFAIK, it's about a complete replacement of an original Furby PCB with a new one, based on PC-connectable and programmable microcontroller. But all links to it, I found are now defunct Undecided.

Maybe, you can find something in your archives?

Shai Alyt NEMO
Shai Alyt NEMO's picture

Shai Alyt NEMO said:   So, I plan to follow Frank's recomendations, make a "thingy" (or maybe, Lego IR Serial Tower will do?), boot DOS from a floppy and try it. And if it works, I will try to capture packets it sends with NoviiRemote and make a "Furby controller" codebase! Of course I would be happy to share it with a community.

Tried it yesterday. Lego Serial Tower works with that vintage furby.exe under DOS, booted from floppy. But sometimes, when using program's text-mode menu, connection to Tower seem to be lost as a Tower's (visible) LED ceased responding (it lights normally, when IR-packets are transmitted) to program. It's best to use that furby.exe in command line mode and with explicit keys for output COM-port and command to be sent. Somehow strange, but at least works. And Furby reacts!

The next step is to capture the IR-packets with PocketPC, running NoviiRemote.

BTW, My grey adult furby reacts to IR-packets normally, but yellow baby completely ignores them (must react, according to many sources). Maybe it have IR-interface malfunction..? Undecided

Shai Alyt NEMO
Shai Alyt NEMO's picture

And I have a question:

Does anybody here dismantled furby's mechanism completely to the gears and reassembled it back? Is it hard to reassemble/readjust to work in sync. 

My grey furby (one, that had a corrosion from battery leakage), while working, emits a considerable odour of electric sparkling (you know this odour ;). I think it's motor have a dirty collector on it's rotor, wich causes excessive sparkling (and an excessive wearing, of course)  while it rotates. Fortunately, the motor has an open construction, so collector can be accessed for cleaning with a small piece of tissue with alcohol. But, to remove the motor it seems, a disassembly of gears system is needed. And I feel, it could be quite difficult to reassemble as a gears (I think) should be at the correct angles upon assemply to work normally after. Or maybe it does not matter?

 

GWJax
GWJax's picture

nemo I had started to dismantle my adult furby but stop and reassembled it back. But now you have me interested in ripping it all the way down now. "Thanks for that buddy!! LOL" With no sleep going on right now and waiting to go to work, if I can make it today, stay awake that is, I just may rip her down to all the gears and post photos for everyone and if not I'll do it this weekend and I'll keep looking for the book I know I have.. I think I need to do a global search in my archives..

Jax

Shai Alyt NEMO
Shai Alyt NEMO's picture

It would be VERY USEFUL, Jax!

BTW, what mod of Furby did you planned?

Almost all records, that I found in the Net was about a stupid "circuit-bending" of Furbys, i.e. making them work erratically, with artificial glitches and speak with a terrible scrambled voices. I dont' think such a robot-violence is fun.  Along with other vivisectors' experiments like frying "alive" Furbys in microwaves, burning in fire or drilling with an electrical drill (HORROR)... Yell

I am successfully tried to use a slightly modified version of microphone amplifier (made for Femisapien) for the Furby. It allows to increase it's "hearing" sensitivity up to "hearing every whisper" ;). Now I am trying to find a reasonable balance between pleasant sensitivity (I don't like to shout aloud or handclap, just want it to react to a normal voice level) and minimum false readings of audio sensor on touches or rubbing of furby's back.

GWJax
GWJax's picture

I was going to make a complete computer controlled furby but thought better of it because I have and had a bunch of other projects going on, Alot with the Elvis that is and still going on that darn Elvinator. Sometimes I think I pulled too much with this mod but it will be very cool when finished :} And right now I still need to make 4 more videos for my review article on the RoboRover. "One cool bot to hack"

Jax

Shai Alyt NEMO
Shai Alyt NEMO's picture

GWJax said: I was going to make a complete computer controlled furby

It could be really nice to have a Furby connected to (and powered from) PC via USB and acting somehow like WowWee Chatterbots but with an ability to fully customise it's behaviour. Interesting, did any hackers ever tried to read/disassemble the furby's ROM or rip it's sound samples? 

I hope, sometime you will found a time for that project. BTW, did you have in your archives any info on that (now forgotten) "furby upgrade kit" that I mentioned before. A schemaic?

MewMew
MewMew's picture

How would you go about re-dyeing a furby's skin? I was going to bleach mine first but I'm not sure how the plastic poly would react...
p.s. You all have terrible grammar...
ex: You all has, a terrible grammars. I have boughten a furbys. It have a purple, ears.
^.^

GWJax
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Schematics you say...... humm let's see.........Why yes I do have them but these are for the orginal Furby with no mods, which is good for a clean hack.. Just PM me your e-mail address and I'll send you the PDF for it.

 

Jax

 

 

idrum289
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I've got the all clear to take possession of the Furby! But they can't find it yet..... :(

Shai Alyt NEMO
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Shai Alyt NEMO said: And I have a question: Does anybody here dismantled furby's mechanism completely to the gears and reassembled it back? Is it hard to reassemble/readjust to work in sync. 

And now I am ready to answer my own question (hope, it will be useful for others).

So, I had dismantled a "V1" (1998-2001) Furby's mechanism to the simplest possible parts (gears, screws, axles etc... cleaned, greased and successfully reassembled it almost without any problem. All removable parts a fixed by screws and reassembling of a gears/cams system is straight-forward as a (single!) main axle is square (and so, the holes in the wheels) and there are markings on the all wheels, which can be easily aligned. So, if you need do disassemble furby's mechanism - it is safe to do if you have some experience with disasembling/reassembling a simple mechanics. No need to worry about adjustment/synchronization - you should want to assemble it in wrong way to do so!

And again, I agree - the Furby's mechanics is a small masterpiece, a good examlpe of how to make more actions with less complex mechanical system.

And (for those curious) - the Furby's CPU determines the current position of the main axle with all the wheels and cams (an so, the current position of eyes, mouth, ears and body forward tilt) by reading an "index" pulse from an index switch, actuated by a corresponding cam once per main axle revolution an then counting a number of a pulses from main encoder opto-pair (~200  per main axle revolution). Like this:

Number of pulses relative to the home position

Pose of the Furby

0 to 30

ears up, eyes open, mouth closed, not tilted

30 to 60

ears down, eyes open, mouth open, not tilted

60 to 100

ears down, eyes open, mouth shut, not tilted

100 to 130

ears down, eyes shut, mouth shut, tilted

130 to 170

ears up, eyes shut, mouth open, not tilted

170 to 200

ears up, eyes open, mouth open, not tilted

Source of this info (and more interesting things, including full Furby electronic schematics) can be found here: http://mechatronics.mech.northwestern.edu/design_ref/other/Furby_dissect.html

Some more info and useful links about furby innards are here: http://www.techdose.com/projects/Furby-Hacking-101/260/page1.html

 

 

 

 

  

Shai Alyt NEMO
Shai Alyt NEMO's picture

My furby family so far, in the order of acquisition (pictures from adoptafurby.com):

1. "Sunny Yellow" baby - German (from flea market, had very loud "squeaky" mechanics - now fixed, but still having it's IR-sensor workin unstable - sometimes it is ignoring IR-commands - I think, I need to disassemble it again) - going to be leaved "as is" as a collection member. 

2. "Koala" adult - English (from second hand clothes market, had leaked batteries inside, corroded contacts and some tracks on main PCB, motor sparkling and smelling excessively, needing cleaning - now completely fixed) - going to be leaved "as is" as a collection member.

3. "Giraffe" adult - English (from eBay - bought cheap in a pack of three as "not-working", actual one have no eyelashes, needed just a cleaning/greasing to work - now working) - going to be leaved "as is" as a collection member.

4. "Gorilla" adult - English (from eBay - bought cheap in a pack of three as "not-working", actual one have brown eyes and no eyelashes, needed a motor disassembly/brushes fixing/cleaning/greasing to work - now working) - going to be leaved "as is" as a collection member.

5. "Elephant" adult - English (from eBay - bought cheap in a pack of three as "not-working", had leaked batteries inside, heavily corroded contacts, some contacts were almost totally "eaten" Yell - needed replacing  - now fixed completely) - going to be leaved "as is" as a collection member.

6. "Lizard" adult - English (from second hand clothes market, actual one have no eyelashes, needed just a cleaning/greasing to work - now working) - going to be leaved "as is" as a collection member..

Of course all of them had a thorough cleaning/greasing of mechanism an a good wash and combing of the fur! 

I hope, they should be happy now!

And I think, for now I'm an experienced enough "furby doctor" Smile 

7. One more "Giraffe" (from second hand clothes market, actual one have no eyelashes, - had a mechanical jams - fixed yesterday). Now partially disassembled. Upon assembly it is going to be presented as a gift

8. Another "Giraffe" (from second hand clothes market, actual one have no eyelashes,- had a dirty stalled motor - now fixed and occasionally exhibiting a CPU glitches (like those "circuit bent" furbys)- needing more investigation of a problem. Upon repair it's planned to be a "test bed" for future experimenting.

Now, I think, I have enough adult Furbys. Just want to acquire some english babies and thinking of ordering a Shelby from eBay (also, they look much more rare).

What about "new" ("V2") furby from 2005 - for now, I am in doubt. As a "pro", they have a (very limited - a few phrases) voice recognition and more expressive "face", but as a "con" it looks that they have less sensors (no light sensor and IR-interface) and more straight-forward and deterministic programming with more "obeying" and less "autonomy". And they have a rubber "mouth" instead of plastic "beak", which seams to be not very durable and prone to tearing over time.

 

 

MrScott
MrScott's picture

Cute little gizmos, but I still say they look like something you should not feed after midnight, and never get wet.

Shai Alyt NEMO
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From Furby Instruction Manual:

-DO NOT PUT ME IN THE WASHING MACHINE.
-DO NOT SUBMERGE ME IN WATER.
-DO NOT LET ME GET WET EXCEPT WITH A DAMP CLOTH ON MY FUR.
-TO PREVENT STAINING MY FUR, WIPE DIRT OFF IMMEDIATELY.
-IF I GET WET, REMOVE MY BATTERIES AND DRY MY FUR.
-ONCE I AM COMPLETELY DRY, REPLACE THE BATTERIES

-DO NOT USE DETERGENT OR STAIN REMOVERS ON ME.

Laughing 

And at least, they will not wake you up for feeding after midnight, like early Tamagotchis...

And, speaking seriously about Furby similarity to Gremlins: 

-------------------------------------8<-------------------------------------------------------------------------

 Is Furbys looks going to be changed?

The answer's a definite maybe, given the undisclosed seven-figure sum that toy maker Hasbro has paid Warner Bros. There have been many reports of Hasbro and Warner Bros. making a deal out of court regarding Furbys likeness to Gizmo from the hit movies "Gremlins" and ``Gremlins 2: The New Batch.'' While no one from either company will comment directly on this, a spokeswomen from Warner Bros. said they are "not currently in litigation'' with Hasbro. It has also been said that along with the seven-figure sum that Hasbro has agreed to redesign Furby as part of the same agreement.

-------------------------------------8<-------------------------------------------------------------------------

read more here: http://www.mimitchi.com/html/ffaq6.htm

Shai Alyt NEMO
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Shai Alyt NEMO said: 8. Another "Giraffe" (from second hand clothes market, actual one have no eyelashes,- had a dirty stalled motor - now fixed and occasionally exhibiting a CPU glitches (like those "circuit bent" furbys)- needing more investigation of a problem.

Guess, what, people...

The source of a glitches were a weak batteries (nearly 1 volt per cell without load) Tongue out ! Never thougt, I will be ever fooled by such a stupid "problem". They worked OK just a day before!

So, again and again. Before dismantling/disassembling/resoldering and performing any attempts to fix some "malfunctioning" electronic device, CHECK IT'S BATTERIES!

 

thegreenfurby
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OMG I LOVE FURBYS!!!!!! I HAVE 25 OF THEM!!!!!!!! I EVEN HAVE A PROTOTYPE/PRE ORDERED ONE!! I HAVE 4 EMOTO-RONICS!!!!

RebelTaz
RebelTaz's picture

Shai Alyt NEMO --> I was just curious, did you ever get a Emo-tronic Furby? I come across them rather regularly at the Thrift Store. I'd be happy to pick you up one (or more) - my gf would kill me if I sent you one of ours!

On a side note, we just bought a Christmas Edition Furby in like new condition with all of his tags still attached at the TS this past week. Unfortunately, he doesn't work, but I think it's a broken wire on the battery contact. I'll be dissecting him sometime around Thanksgiving..

Vida
Vida's picture

I found this forum when searching for information on how to repair a Shelby (Furby's friend). One of my Shelbys seems to have lost its voice. It wakes up and moves its mouth, responds to the other Shelby when it speaks, but it can't talk. Can it be repaired?

Here's the back story: I re-discovered the two Shelbys when cleaning out a closet two weeks ago. Both of them started talking when I jostled the box they were in, after sitting quietly for about eight years! Amazingly the batteries had not corroded. I let them talk to each other until they fell asleep. Today (two weeks later) I picked them up again. They woke up and started to talk, but one of them has no voice. I put in brand-new batteries and that didn't help. So I reset it by pushing the tiny button on the bottom. Still no voice. Thanks for any suggestions you can make! By the way I have NO experience in working on robotic toys so I am a total novice.

RebelTaz
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Vida said:
I found this forum when searching for information on how to repair a Shelby (Furby's friend). One of my Shelbys seems to have lost its voice. It wakes up and moves its mouth, responds to the other Shelby when it speaks, but it can't talk. Can it be repaired?
Here's the back story: I re-discovered the two Shelbys when cleaning out a closet two weeks ago. Both of them started talking when I jostled the box they were in, after sitting quietly for about eight years! Amazingly the batteries had not corroded. I let them talk to each other until they fell asleep. Today (two weeks later) I picked them up again. They woke up and started to talk, but one of them has no voice. I put in brand-new batteries and that didn't help. So I reset it by pushing the tiny button on the bottom. Still no voice. Thanks for any suggestions you can make! By the way I have NO experience in working on robotic toys so I am a total novice.

 

All things being equal, the simplest explanation is usually the correct explanation. First thing I would suspect would be a broken wire to the speaker, since evrything else seems to work properly. If not there, then I would backtrack the audio path back to and through the audio amplifier circuit. 

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