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 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.