Leapfrog make some pretty awesome kids electronics. Especially admirable is the low cost, the battery life, and the audio quality of these devices. This circuit bending hack takes advantage of those audio circuits by turning the Alphabet Pal into your lead vocalist. The performance in the demo video begins with some impressive tricks, but just wait for it because by the end the little purple caterpillar proves itself an instrument worthy of a position beside that fancy Eurorack you’ve been assembling.
The image above provides a great look inside the beastie. [Jason Hotchkiss] mentions he’s impressed by the build quality, and we have to agree. Plus, look at all of those inputs — this is begging to leave toyland and join the band. With an intuitive sense that can only be gained through lots of circuit-bending experience, he guessed that the single through-hole resistor on the PCB was used to dial in the clock speed. That made it easy to throw in a trimpot for pitch-bending and he moved on to figure out individual note control.
All of those caterpillar feet are arranged in a keyboard matrix to detect button presses. After pulling out the oscilloscope for a bit of reverse engineering, [Jason] grabbed a PIC microcontroller and added it to the same solder points as the stock ribbon connector. The result is that the buttons on the feet still work, but now the Alphabet Pal also has MIDI control.
Take a look at the writeup for full details, and the video after the break to hear it in action. If you’re a fan of circuit-bent toys, this pretty pink keyboard hack always impressed us, especially the spring reverb that was added!
8 thoughts on “Circuit Bending Those Adorable Voices”
Arrggggggh! I saw one of these for about a dollar or so recently at a Goodwill but didn’t snag it. Must …. not … resist … temptation ….. to buy …….. stuff…….. I MIGHT need some day!!! 😂
Now it needs a MIDI output that uses the feet as a keyboard. :)
Argh we have one of those in the kids toy box – why do you designers make toys so damn loud and insist on them making random noises in the middle of the night if they have been left on….
Had one in the toy box also. Wanted to hack it so it would do something other than laugh if you pressed F and K together.
Absolem is crying
Absolem is high as a kite
My 1st kid had one of these, try and swear with it and on the last key press of the word it just laughs.
There was an earlier version where the f & k keys would say something close to a naughty word. Of course it was changed in later versions to a giggle.
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