The Furby Organ

Sometimes you have an idea that is so brilliant and so crazy that you just have to make it a reality. In 2011, [Look Mum No Computer] drew up plans in his notebook for a Furby organ, an organ comprised of a keyboard and a choir of Furbies. For those who don’t know what a Furby is, it’s a small, cute, furry robotic toy which speaks Furbish and a large selection of human languages. 40 million were sold during its original production run between 1998 and 2000 and many more since. Life intervened though, and, [LMNK] abandoned the Furby organ only to recently take it up again.

He couldn’t get a stable note out of the unmodified Furbies so he instead came up with what he’s calling the Furby Forman Fusion Synthesis. Each Furby is controlled by a pair of Ardunios. One Arduino sequences parts inside the Furby and the other produces a formant note, making the Furby sing vowels.

We love the label he’s given for what would otherwise be the power switch, namely the Collective Awakening switch. Flicking it causes all 44 (we count 45 but he says 44) Furbies to speak up while moving their ears, eyes, and beaks. Pressing the Loop switch makes them hold whatever sound they happen to be making. The Vowel dial changes the vowel. But you’ll just have to see and hear it for yourself in the videos below. The second video also has construction details.

Want to make a Furby do whatever you want? Check out how [Jeija] has reverse engineered one to take control of it.

Thanks for the tip, [Måns Almered].

30 thoughts on “The Furby Organ

    1. Yeah he is definitely entertaining and has good enthusiasm. Been following his yt feed for a while and love the energy and the fact that he is not a gear snob. He tends to find the fun in pretty much anything :)

    1. Those look like Arduino Nano clones. If you are willing to solder the headers yourself, they can be had for 1.66 plus shipping. The CH340 usb chip is different to the genuine Arduinos, but is still plug and play, nothing extra to download. I use them in the Sinclair Scientific calculator, where it does make a difference in the kit price. I am pleased with them.

  1. I’m curious about the technical details. Do hackers know enough about the microcontrollers in these things to directly manipulate them? Or is the system implemented in a way that one Arduino selectively takes over the motors and another selectively takes over the speaker to play a Furby sample when he plays a note?
    Directly manipulating the microcontroller would be really cool. But it sounds like they have an EEPROM for storing learned data meaning the core programming is probably ROM and it could be impossible to run your own code on them.
    Selectively taking them over seems like the more plausible route though.

    1. Replying to myself :P
      I found a couple links. One looks like it is for a more modern version of the Furby.https://mncoppola.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/performing-open-heart-surgery-on-a-furby-summercon-2014.pdf

      I’m not sure it this is accurate for the older ones.
      http://forum.6502.org/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2027

      In both cases, it looks like the code would be loaded from on board ROM and it sounds like the JTAG interface may be locked so it does not seem like there is a way to run your own code on the Furby’s microcontroller.

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