Too busy playing video games to have a social life? No worries. In 1985, Nintendo introduced R.O.B. — otherwise known as the Robotic Operating Buddy. It was made to play Nintendo with you. In Japan, apparently, it was the Family Computer Robot. We suppose ROB isn’t a very Japanese name. The robot was in response to the video game market crash of 1983 and was meant to keep the new Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) from being classified as a video game, which would have been a death sentence at the time of its release.
Since you might not have heard of R.O.B., you can probably guess it didn’t work out very well. In fact, the whole thing tanked in two years and resulted in only two games.
Continue reading “Retro Gadgets: Nintendo R.O.B Wanted To Be Your Friend” →
Droids and robot assistants are still not really a part of our daily lives, even if they started showing up in movies many long decades ago. [Rudy Aramaryo] perhaps hopes that will change one day, and is pursuing this goal with their own droid build named R.O.B.
R.O.B. is quite a hefty ‘bot, weighing 140 lbs and sporting a full 80 Ah of lithium-iron-phosphate batteries for a long running time and plenty of power. For brains, R.O.B. packs in an Apple Mac Mini M1 and a Mac Studio, running OS X. It’s an unusual choice for a robot, but one that brings plenty of computing power to bear, nonetheless. Equipped with tracked propulsion, R.O.B. also features a slip-ring setup in the base allowing the droid to rotate endlessly without tangling wires.
By virtue of its size and power, R.O.B. goes a long way to emulating the general feel of the droids of the Star Wars series. It’s all about the roughly-human-scaled design, and the anthropomorphic features. Further helping the cause are a basic chat ability powered by Python, along with arms and actuators to interact with the world.
The name of this droid recalls us of the charming Nintendo console toy from the 1980s. If these aren’t the droids you’re looking for, and you’ve been hacking on ‘bots of your own, be sure to drop us a line.
We admit that a hack enabling a 34-year-old video game peripheral to be controlled by a mobile app wasn’t something we were expecting to see today, but if controlling something with something else isn’t the definition of a classic hack, we don’t know what is. The folks at [Croxel Inc.] worked out a way to control R.O.B. using a phone app to demo out their expertise in building hardware and software prototypes, a service they offer at their website.
R.O.B. was a little robot with movable clamp arms bundled with the 1985 release of the NES, an effort by Nintendo of America to drive sales of the console after the gaming crash of 1983 by making it look less like a video game and more like a toy. The robot receives inputs from light sensors in its head, which would be pointed towards the TV playing one of the only two games released with support for it. [Croxel] used this to their advantage, and in order to control the robot without needing a whole NES, they fabricated a board using a BGM111 Bluetooth Low-Energy module which can receive outside inputs and translate them to the light commands the robot recognizes.
To avoid having to modify the rare toy itself and having to filter out any external light, the hack consists of a 3D printed “goggles” enclosure that fits over R.O.B.’s eyes, covering them entirely. The board is fitted inside it to shine the control light into its eyes, while also flashing “eye” indicators on the outside to give it an additional charming 80s look. The inputs, which are promptly obeyed, are then given by a phone paired to the module using a custom app skinned to look like a classic NES controller.
We’ve seen more intrusive hacks to this little robot here on Hackaday, such as this one which replaces the old sluggish motors entirely with modern servos and even plans to reconstruct it from scratch given the scarcity of the originals. It’s interesting to see the ways in which people are still hacking hardware from 35 years ago, and we’re excited to see what they’ll come up with around the 40 or 50 year marks!
[via Gizmodo, thanks Itay for the tip!]
More than 30 years ago, Nintendo’s R.O.B graced toy shelves, helping usher in an age of video games that is here to stay. For the few of us lucky to own one of these relics, we’ll find that R.O.B’s internal mechanisms that drive the arms and neck movements are just begging to be modified. That’s exactly what [Kenny Storm] did, installing a few continuous-rotation servos to give R.O.B a new mobile life of its own.
The original R.O.B featured a surprisingly intricate gearbox configuration embedded inside the shoulders for both up-and-down shoulder movement and hand-pinching. (For a more detailed investigation on the internals of the original hardware, have a look at this teardown.) This hack is sparsely documented, but from what we can gather, the mobile R.O.B uses all three existing degrees of freedom that the original supported while furthermore adding mobility with continuous rotation servos.
Glancing at the dates from this forum post, this find is almost 8 years old. Age is never a dealbreaker here, though, as the sheer quaintness of this hack will surely stand the test of time. Watching R.O.B take up a presence with mobility on this desk hearkens back to our childhood mysticism of unboxing this companion with our Nintendo when we were children. Finally (shameless plug!), if you’re just as excited as the author at the chance of seeing R.O.B back on your shelf with at-home-manufacturing techniques, have a go at printing my 1:1 scale R.O.B head replica.
Continue reading “R.O.B. Gets A Proper RC Resurrection” →