Yes, I went to Radio Shack today. And, yes, I will still call it Radio Shack. And, yes, sometimes you need a quick electronics fix. I get most of my stuff online these days.
Radio Shack had the Erector Spykee Mini Vox robot on sale for $10. The Mini Vox takes voice commands and makes the robot move, talk, dance, and even fire a “laser.” The box says, “Ages 7+” – I fit that category. The box also says, “Some assembly required.” It should have said, “Some de-assembly required.”
While playing with the demo model at the store, I realized that I could reuse the voice commands to set inputs on a microcontroller.
The voice commands go something like this:
Robot moves forward
Here are all of the commands and their response:
- “Forward” – DC motors get positive voltage
- “Backup” – DC motors get negative voltage
- “Turn Left” – One DC motor gets positive voltage and the other negative
- “Turn Right” – One DC motor gets positive voltage and the other negative
- “Laser War” – LEDs flash and RGB LED flashes different colors
- “Yo Man” – Says “Yo Man” back at you and RGB LED flashes different colors
- “Electro Dance” – Makes sounds, LEDs flash, RGB LED flashes different colors, and DC motors pulse on and off
- “Destroy Target” – Says, “This is my favorite,” makes sounds, flashes LEDs, and RGB LED flashes colors
When I got Mini Vox home, I ripped it apart. I was quite surprised by how responsive the voice commands are and how many parts are inside this little robot. Most of the parts are reusable.
Here’s what you get for your $10 investment:
- Orange LED (x2)
- RGB LED
- DC Motor (x2)
- Motor Driver Circuit Boards (x2)
- 8 ohm Speaker
- Slider Switch
- Momentary Push Button
- Lots of screws
The forward and the back voice commands are the easiest to tap into. You can disconnect the DC motors and connect them to a digital input of a microcontroller and now you can use voice commands to set the state of 2 digital inputs and act on them.
If I come up with something clever, I will let you know. But, the first piece of my Iron Man suit has fallen into place.