Instructables

WowWee's Elvis Alive to The Elivinator Project

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Hello everyone, I would like to introduce you to a project that I have started since the first of the year. It all happened when I saw the WowWee's Elvis Alive bust. I have been working on an animated head on and off until I seen this. This was just what I was looking for, a head that moves, turns, eyes that move and a mouth that moves. The Elvis had all of it, so I started to think what am I going to do with it? I started talking about the head on www.RoboCommunity.com and got a lot of ideas but the one that I liked the most was to turn the Elvis into the Terminator. So the name The Elvinator was born. This project is a very hard robot to build and to make the necessary mods including making your own main brain board, constructing the Terminator eye with a glowing red LED, building the jaw piston, re-skinning the face to look like it has been burnt off and of course programming it to move, recognize voice and learn as it interacts with people. As you can see where I am in the project just look at my Avatar photo, yes that is the Elvinator. So I would like to show you what's inside him and how to modify the Elvis and turn him into the Elvinator. This project is not finished yet but I will be adding more steps along the way. I not sure how many steps but I know there are a bunch. I am using a Basic Stamp 2 from Parallax right now for testing purposes then I'll make a board that is controlled by a PC once I get to that point.
This is the first step in transforming Elvis to "The Elvinator," an ongoing project. This first article is about opening your Elvis to reveal some of its electronics. The next article will be about removing the skin and so forth.
So, are you ready to get started?
 
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goldenshuttle11 months ago
please can you provide the schematic of the IR tracking sensors and how they make his head follow movement ?
tanuwat11 months ago
Can some one fix my Elvis??
2556, 11:53.jpg
tanuwat11 months ago
Hello your blog is really fascinating. I really wish someone can fix my Elvis he just stop working and I don't know why. I wonder If you could fix him for me.
telarium1 year ago
Thanks to this guide, I'm celebrating Presidents Day in the US with the Elvis Alive and Chimpanzee from Wowee. Powered by Arduino!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnObaoilr10
telarium1 year ago
Got mine up and running!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXUj3FaVH8A&feature=youtu.be
please i bought this used ELVIS from EBAY; when powers on it only repositions its neck and then nothing happens. please any advise ? I tried fresh batteries and better adaptor; I also pulled all connectors between allboards and placed them back in place one by one. so far no success...Please advise me...many thanks....
It is most likely a malfunctioning limit switch. There is a square plate at the base of the neck on in the inside of the torso. It slides around with the L/R, U/D of the neck. At the extremes, it closes a limit switch. One of these is not working working properly and telling the firmware that the head is in an impossible position.

When you first power up the bust, it moves the neck through the fulle range of motion to calibrate it and then set it in a nuetral position (since removing power can be done at any time and the head will just stop wherever it was.) If it is unable to sense where the neck limits are, it just hangs up.

You will need to test the switches and either replace or clean them. They may all appear to work fine, but check them with an ohm meter while holding them closed. If the value is bouncing around all over the place, then the switch is faulty (remember, this is just a switch so it should only be either 0 ohms or infinite.)

This is a common problem for the Elvis bust.
Checked the neck limit switches, yes one of them was leaking. But the surgery did not end there. As advised by RetroPlayer before; I removed one of the two neck motors, found that its plastic base melted in a way it is now sitting tilted.(see the pictures). This also caused one gear to break, and the slotted wheel that feeds the position optosensor is no longer sitting in place between sensor slot. later I took off the motor found that it still works, but has major damage inside due to overheating; parts of the amature shattered inside the motor.
I will try to replace the motor with something similar, and get a gear from a toy and put things together hope it works. If someone have this part for sale I will buy it....
Any idea's why the motor melted its enclosure? please educate us ....
moto2.JPGmoto1.JPG
BTW retroplayer; do u do WowWee regretted selling ELVIS at only 80$ ? I mean when u open it; and after reading ur hacks inside it; it is some peice of work. all that animatronics for just 80$..hwat di u think ?
Thanks Retro Player. I must admit that you know ELVIS bust like ur own son. I m gonna check the limit switch and report bck. God bless u man
It sounds like you have a burned out sensor board or possibly CPU board. Go to Robots and Androids on ebay. They sell all the boards. Or you can see if their web site "http://www.robots-and-androids.com" has instructions.
flesh1382 years ago
Did you have any issues with the paint not sticking too well since the skin is silicone? Thanks!
telarium2 years ago
You mention the existing Elvis Alive has a complex power board. Do you know if it uses the full 9v to control all the DC motors, or is it 5v? Specifically, the motors to tilt the head left/right and up/down.
robotmaker2 years ago
NICE INSTRUCTABLE,i am looking at a different controller that works using SD84 IT HAS 84 inputs and using very cheap servo's for the servo board
servo board can get for $5 on ebay new from china,and just remove the pot and motor ,and add motor and feedback pot from ELVIS head,very easy and you free up a lot of inputs for other stuff,using microcontroller board you will many many I/O on SD84 ONLY NEED IS 7 rc inputs
ever thought of using it,also servo boards can be used with any microcontroller
SD84 has 4 on board for other servo's hands,pan and tilt and more
GWJax (author)  robotmaker2 years ago
Never hear of the SD84 but I'll look into it. But one thing the Elvis does not have any servos it has only DC motors with Variable Resistors as a positional sensor. If you want you could remove all the motors and replace them with small servos but that is a lot of work to do and there for your really not hacking the Elvis but only using the plastic mechanics for your hack.

Jax
not a great idea ,mostly because of cost
what i did is buy very cheap futuba servos from china remove the pcb and pot and motor and make my own servo
servo is a controller with feedback and h-bridge plus motor and feedback pot
its very simple ,cheap and works perfect $5 total per motor and only 1 wire per servo on SD84
THEN YOU HAVE OVER 70 PORTS LEFT /IO ,SERVO AND A-D
another thing about using a board from a cheap servo is that the h-bridge can be parallel to have higher current or easy replace the chip with higher current h-bridge,i bought 50 to have on hand to make my own servo's from motors and feedback pot, futaba s3003 is perfect ,easy to remove parts cheap from china $5 or less and great info in seattle robotics club on the circuit
telarium3 years ago
This is inspiring stuff. I'm a bit new to all of this, so forgive me if I have some newbie questions. The main thing I don't get is the ELV-09 board. I'm not clear what this board actually does and why you felt the need to replace it. Can you elaborate?

I'm interested in controlling this with an Arduino board. Have you ever looked into that? I know it can read VR data, but I'm not sure about how the neck motors will integrate...
GWJax (author)  telarium2 years ago
What the ELV-09 board does is it controls a lot of the facial movements by turning the motors on and off and reading the VR positions in a digital form with a ADC chip (Analog to Digital Converter)

The reason I built the new ELV-09 board is because I wanted an analog signal which I can control where the motors are better than a digital signature of it and with the ADC chip along with shift registers it does not give me that kind of info I need from these VR's. I hope you understand the reason. But if you want to control the facial movements as they are you can tap into the ELV-01 Main boards shift registers for that. Also look at the video about the eye movements, this is where I took out of circuit the ELV-09 board all together and showed how the new ELV-09 board would work mounted on the breadboard for moving the eyes only. Yet I did not slow down the eyes on this video because I wanted to see if I could read the VR going with the motor at full speed and no problems there and it worked great.

Yes I have looked in to the Arduino board in which I have one but really the PIC 16F884 or 887 would do a better job than the BS2 series because of the amount of I/O's it has and I think it like 33 or 35 I/O's I'd have to look that one up again.

For the neck motors you would only need a one bit I/O line to read it's location and for it's speed once you setup the calibrations with those 4 switches 2 for each motor. This one is very simple to write into your program for what ever MCU you use.

I hope I explained the questions you asked and if you have any others just ask again.

Jax
telarium GWJax2 years ago
Thanks for the response! I was considering the Arduino Mega board, which has 54 digital outs and 16 analog inputs. Would that be enough? Or do I need an input for each neck switch?

Like I said, I'm new at this. But I'm assuming that by utilizing the boards that are already inside Elvis, the digital outs on my Arduino would work to control direction of each motor and the VR can be fed through the analog input to determine positional data. Also, I assume using the existing boards means I don't have to deal with the volts as much.

Do I sound like I'm on the right track here?
GWJax (author)  telarium2 years ago
Yep your on the right track... for the neck switches those are digital I/O's and so are the neck motor encoders. You have plenty of I/O ports. Now on the ELV-09 board you need to cut the traces going to the ADC chip lines for the VR's and you'll need to solder in some extra jumper wires on the board. All VR's have a cap on them so you don't have to worry about adding those. If you need help with this I can scan in the bottom of the board and show you where to cut and then what lines to use. It can be a little tricky but if you can do it great. It would take me awhile to do this because of all my other projects going on right now have deadlines that I have to meet.

Jax
telarium GWJax2 years ago
Yikes, that does sound tricky. Maybe I would be better at building a new ELV-09 board as you did. But yeah, if you could provide that scan, I would be very thankful.
GWJax (author)  telarium2 years ago
No problem just give me some tie to get it done.

Jax
telarium GWJax2 years ago
Have you had a chance to scan the bottom board to show me where I need to cut these wires?
GWJax (author)  telarium2 years ago
I have updated the ELV-09 boards pin out in-case you still need that..
I also looked at what you could do about cutting the traces and really the best thing to do is to remove the SNAD01 chip and connect your wire harness to the VR signal lines to your MCU.
Jax
GWJax (author)  telarium2 years ago
No Sorry, I have bad news.. My house had a bad fire in the attic on 29 April at 12:30 in the afternoon and destroyed all my robots including the Elvinator and it's boards. I have no unpublished photos now and all my data is lost. The only way I can help you now is if you scan in the bottom of the board for me and then I can edit it for you to show you where to cut them.

If I do get another Elvis I will rebuild the Elvinator again with different mods but we'll have to see about that.

Jax
telarium GWJax2 years ago
Damn, sorry to hear that man. Don't worry about it, I think I've pretty much figured everything out. The only thing left I have to work out is how to get my Arduino microcontroller to interface with the ELV-13 board properly.
telarium GWJax2 years ago
Well, the more I think about it, the more I do think building a new board as you suggested might be the way to go. But that does lead to one other question. I assume this would mean I should hook this board up to the PWM outputs on the Arduino board instead of the digital outputs, right?
Trying to figure out what the requirements are for controlling all of Elvis' components I have come up with the following I/O requirements:

16 inputs (10 from VRs, 4 from neck switches, 2 from IR boards Rx)
22 outputs (10 for each motor/direction, 2 for IR boards Tx)

Have I over looked something?
GWJax (author)  applicationbistro3 years ago
Only 8 Motors have VR (Variable Resistors) the Neck motors that control tilt function with the 4 switches uses Tacit sensors (PT disk in the casing) I did not include this in any part of the article because the rest of the custom electronics were not finished. I had put this off for so long I'll need to check everything else you stated but it does sound right.
I'll post more when I have a chance very soon for you.

Jax
I appreciate all of your help!

I am eager to bring my Elvis alive. I am attempting to translate your instructable into Arduino (that's all I have right now).
GWJax (author) 3 years ago
Sorry I thought I posted the plug layout for the ELV-09 board. So here they are:

• M11-white connector-controls L/R head movement
• M6-blue connector-controls eye brows
• M1-Grey connector controls jaw movement
• J33- power connector
• pin1-red +
• Pin2-GND -
• J12- main controller plug
• pin1-red-neck right
• pin2-yellow-neck left
• pin3-green-jaw down
• pin4-blue-jaw up
• pin5-purple-eye brow down
• pin6-black-eye brow up
Looks like that is the pinout for ELV-07 not ELV-09.
GWJax (author)  applicationbistro3 years ago
Let me look into this for you.
Have you listed which VRs (which color plug) go with which motor? I am trying to avoid taking the guts out of the face, and since i am working from behind i can't see where all of the plugs are going to.
GWJax (author)  applicationbistro3 years ago
I forgot to hit the reply button to your question but the answer has been posted for you.

Jax
stardogg3 years ago
GWJax,
I'm confused. Where are the 7 VR's? I am putting together a shopping list for this project, but I don't know if I need to supply my own VR's or if they are already in Elvis...

This is an awesome Instructable!
GWJax (author)  stardogg3 years ago
The VR's are on the motors them self. They are what the motors use to determine where and how fast they move.

Let me know if I can help anymore for you.

Jax
stardogg3 years ago
I am anxiously waiting for the face movement step...
I did it! Thanks, Jax, for the great walk through. My daughter and I kept alternating between different sized small screwdrivers that fit the different contours. You were right about the chest being hard to get off. We just kept pulling and wiping the screwdrivers gently across the glue jams and they slowly relented.
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