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This hack allows you to play your own custom messages through an animatronic talking Hamster. If you are unfamiliar, these hamster toys repeat everything you say in a cute cartoonish animal voice while bobbing up and down. By replacing the hamster's microphone input with an audio feed from an Adafruit Audio FX board, and using a vibration switch as a trigger, you can have the hamster basically say any prerecorded message you want when you tap its nose. This makes for a fun and easy personalized gift for children of all ages.

While this isn't a difficult electronics project, it does require some knowledge of electronics and soldering. To learn about both, check out the Electronics Class.

Step 1: Materials

To make your own, you will need:

(x1) Talking hamster
(x1) Audio FX board
(x1) Vibration switch
(x2) 10uF capacitors
(x1) 10K resistor
(x1) 1K resistor
(x1) Assorted shrink tube
(x1) 12" zip tie
(x3) AAA batteries

<p>Hi Randy, Nice project...as always!</p><p>Bob D</p>
<p>That is an awesome hamster! Perhaps I will set one up in my office to remind me once an hour to drink a glass of water, to stretch, walk around, heed the 20-20-20 rule...</p>
<p>wow, really gorgeous</p>
<p>does it hurt the hamster?</p>
<p>After the mod, It no longer repeats everything that get said. <br><br>You could probably even leave the mic connected so that it could still do this. Not sure whether or not that would be a bad idea. It would probably just ignore the audio board when it is listening to the mic audio and (probably) have no effect on how it works.<br><br>I disconnected the mic because I wanted to get rid of the talk-back function.</p>
<p>he he he</p>
<p>Wouldn't it make more sense to reprogram the audio chip already inserted?</p>
<p>No. First off, the chip caches a small amount of audio, plays it backs and then (presumably) erases it. Since these toys are produced at mass scale, this functionality is likely designed into the custom hardware of the chip and not re-programmable. Secondly, the chip is under a glob of some sort of resin and not accessible. This would need to be dissolved with something caustic like hydrochloric acid. Third, even if you should overcome the first two obstacles, re-programming a random chip on a random circuit board is not a simple task. You would have to create a bootloader and likely end up working in a low-level programming language like Assembly to be able to access the different parts of the chip. If it even is possible, it would take a very long time to complete. Thus, for $20 more than the cost of the toy, I can complete this project in about a half hour. This seems more sensible to me. </p>
<p>Totally agree. The chip under the 'glob-top' is almost certainly what is known as an ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit). As such it is designed specifically to do this job and no other - it is not re-programmable. It would not be cost-effective for the makers of the original toy to have to program the devices when they were making them. </p><p>Your solution is cost-effective, elegant and repeatable. Might even try it myself - my youngest daughter (18) would love it :-)</p>
<p>My friend had one of these a while ago. Man, they are quite funny.</p>

About This Instructable

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Bio: My name is Randy and I founded the Instructables Design Studio. I'm also the author of the books 'Simple Bots,' and '62 Projects to ... More »
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