Transforming Elvis to the Terminator - Part 1

This is the first step in transforming Elvis to "Elvis the Terminator," 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?

Support the Elvis upside down, either in an empty trash can or in your lap. If batteries are installed, you will need to remove them before beginning this step, since you could slip and make a short circuit in it. If you look at the base, you will see that there are a lot of screws to remove. Make sure not to forget about the ones in the middle of the white standoffs. See the picture below.

Base Bottoom

After all the screws are removed, it's time to start on the vest. The picture below shows that the vest is connected in the front on 2 posts. Remove these connections first by prying up on them with a screw driver, going up and over the post.

Once you have these connections loose, the next step is to release the bottom base from the upper torso. By doing this, you will be able to get to the electronics. Notice that around the bottom of the vest, there are locking tabs holding it in place. There are 2 more locking pins; one on each shoulder. By pulling up the vest from the bottom, you will come to the point where the vest won't move. Twist the locking key 90' to unlock and pull it out. See photos below.

Now that all the locking pins are removed, it's time to remove the vest. The vest on each shoulder has a connector on it. These connectors are for the IR transmission and receiving on the vest pocket for the right and left. Remove the connectors and then pull the vest up and over Elvis's head. We are now ready to examine the insides.

Finish opening the base from the torso. Be careful not to pull on the wires too firmly. On the base, you will see the pink speakers; one on the left, one on the right. The PCB on the far left is the audio amp, and the upper center is the main PCB (or "brains" if you will.) Front center is the audio interface board which intergrates the mic and audio in from the CPU and out to the speakers.

Next is a look under the shoulders. This is where the head is controlled; it can tilt right, left, up and down. Two motors control these functions in the X-Y axis using worm gears and a gear box. Notice the large silver washer. In between is a thick rubber washer, so the motor gear box can move without breaking or locking up. The board to the right of the center motor is an HBridge circuit for controlling the movement of the motors fowards and backwards. Also in the motor gearbox is a PT sensor for detecting speed and lack of motor movement. On the far left and far right is the board for the IR sensors on the vest. The center bottom board is a power distrubution board.

This ends the first tutorial of many as we transform Elvis to "Elvis the Terminator." Thank you to everyone that has helped me in the ongoing project. This will be a long undertaking, but well worth it. I hope you all enjoy it!

Stay tuned for more to come! GWJax

The WowWee Alive Elvis "Elvinator" Project: Quick Links

Elvinator Project Thread: Info and Teasers  |  Elvinator Source Code Thread  


RobosapienV2-4mem8's picture

He He, Enjoying every minute of this, Now I gota go to work and wait 24hrs for the next installment, The suspense is killing me.

GWJax's picture

4mem8 Glad your having fun with it, I know I and too. Just wait and see when we get to make the motors move.. GWJax

Robo BG's picture

I skimmed since I don't have an elvis.  But regardless it looks like a cool project.  Nice Work Jax!

GWJax's picture

Thanks BG, It's going to be very hard...GWJax

Lepy's picture

Good luck!

GWJax's picture

Thanks Lepy, Does any one out there have an Elvis Alive? GWJax

RobosapienV2-4mem8's picture

I know I don't, SOB. SOB .SOB Tears of misery. *Changes T shirt because it's wet*

mhead10's picture

Hey GW Jax,

Is there something describing what you are planning to have when all is said and done?  I have $80 to spend at sharper images, and so this looks pretty tempting, although I don't want to get it and turn it into the terminator without knowing what the end product will be. 

Thanks for your time.  It looks awesome so far. 


RobosapienV2-4mem8's picture

mhead10: You are in for some pretty amazing effects, I have not seen the whole thing as GW is still making it, But you will not be dissapointed with the end result. Hang in there.

GWJax's picture

mhead10 said: Hey GW Jax, Is there something describing what you are planning to have when all is said and done?  I have $80 to spend at sharper images, and so this looks pretty tempting, although I don't want to get it and turn it into the terminator without knowing what the end product will be.  Thanks for your time.  It looks awesome so far.  mhead 

mhead10, follow the threads in the elvis fourms and also follow the coding thread as well. This project is a hard and worth wild complete mod and hack of the Elvis Alive. We have dubed it the Elvinator as it will be part Elvis and part Terminator. There will be coding envolved and circuit making and mold making along with sculpting. All this is to come. You won't be disapointed in the end results and thanks 4mem8 for the comment. This project is being worked on almost every day since I have opened it up. If you only have $80.00 to spend or you can get the Elvis bust for 80 bucks then do it. I paid 129.99 and thought it was a steal vers the 249.97 price tag on it. If you are willing to learn robotics, then this is the project to do. If you don't know electronics then I would suggest you to start learning. A few great books for the beginers is the book Electronics for Dummies and Robotics for the Evil Genius. I find my self refering to it quite often among all other books I have. This project is not a weekend hack but a few months of hacking and building. So if your ready for that get the bust of Elvis and start reviewing the articles and threads. Do the testing listed in the thread for coding the Elvinator and have fun with it. GWJax

GWJax's picture

Also if you have any questions about a certin part of the elvis please PM me or post to one of my threads and I'll help you out.

mhead10's picture

GW Jax,

Thanks a lot for the words of encouragement.  It's really cool to see you take the time to write such good comments to everyone, including me.  I really appreciate the suggestions and book help!

 Well, by what you and others say, it looks like I'm probably going to have to go and buy elvis for only 90 bucks now.

 Can't wait to start working on it and I can't wait to see what we end up with.

 Thanks again for all of your input!!

RobosapienV2-4mem8's picture

Just remember mhead10, above all have fun.Laughing

mhead10's picture

Well guys,

I went to to use my gift card after you guys pumped me up for it, and I found out that sharper image is no longer taking gift cards due to bankruptcy.  I'll have to see if I can scrounge up enough to justify how lame sharper image is:( The extra stinky part is that I'm just barely 3 days late.

RobosapienV2-4mem8's picture

Bummer, That's really bad luck. SO you can't use that 80 bucks at all??

mhead10's picture

It doesn't look promising.  I sent them an email, but I doubt it.

"Customer Information:
Gift Cards, Rewards Cards, Gift Certificates, and Merchandise Certificates

On Tuesday, February 19, 2008, The Sharper Image commenced a case under chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

The Company intends to continue to conduct business as usual while it devotes renewed efforts to resolve it's operational and liquidity problems and develops a reorganization plan.

However, The Sharper Image is suspending the acceptance of Gift Cards, Rewards Cards, Gift Certificates, or Merchandise Certificates as a form of payment.

We appreciate your understanding that according to Bankruptcy law, store employees, managers and the Company do not have the authority to override this directive."

I'm a undergraduate mechanical engineering student, just getting into robotics, and this seems like kind of a great first project, with help from some good friends, so we'll see what happens.

 I still look forward to the progress though!

RobosapienV2-4mem8's picture

That's the sort of thing you do not need when you are starting out, Sorry to hear of your demise. Lets hope they come to the party at a later stage, but I wouldn't hold out hopes.

GWJax's picture

OK that is what I call stealing from the consumer. You got a gift card of $80.00 that was paid in advance and now they say to bad but thanks for the free money. I hate that about bankrupt laws. But on another note don't let this get you down, check to see how much woowee sells if for because all you need is the bust and nothing more from them. Good luck! Until then start reading those books and other related electronic books. A great source is your local library and their free to read. Just to let you know that I'm almost finnished with Article 4 and it is a short one but the real fun comes in part 5 and 6. They will make the Elvinator move and I'll show you how to make the control board for the basic stamps. We will not be using all the boards in the Elvis, just some of them. You'll see what I mean when we get there. Till then I'll talk to ya later. GWJax

RobosapienV2-4mem8's picture

Can't wait for part 4 and 5.

GWJax's picture

No you really want 5 and 6 part 4 is booring sorry to say.

RobosapienV2-4mem8's picture

opps, you right, Didn't read it correctly.

GWJax's picture

lol, I thought that.

Elvensynth's picture

I already had a plan similar to this when the "elvis alive's" first came out.
I actually made my own custom flashing for it. I made it a female elf! I also cut off the speakers, I was waiting for this info on how to modify it!!

GWJax's picture

Great to hear that, I would love to see a picture of it.

RORR's picture

Help???  How do by pass sleep mode and keep elvis running at all time will power is pluged in...



GWJax's picture

One way you can do this which is very effective is getting a Basic Stamp2px24 chip from . What you would do is tap into the RX line on the main ELV01 board. You have 2 places that you can tap into and that is at J16 and J71 at pin 1 labeled IR.R and IR.L

Next you would send a data stream for the Volume Down then send another data stream for the Volume Up. Set the program to loop every 5 minutes. This will keep him alive with the same volume setting that you make.

I'll post another thread for you on how to do this, step by step and provide you with the code in case you do not know PBasic.

The reason I picked the BS2px24 was because of the speed of the chip. The standard BS2 is not fast enough in sending the 12 bit data stream needed to pull this function off.

Once I post a new thread on this subject, I'll put the thread location here for you so you can find it.


RORR's picture

I don't not know PBasic, I really don't know much...
could a dummy pull this off.
I am building a las vegas x-mas disply with 4- woowee elvis's dress as elfs no sound just moving face/ 10 hours a day for 20 days in Dec.

GWJax's picture

Ya I'll make sure that you have a step by step instructions. I hope you know how to solder electronics, if not start learning. This mod is really easy and if you do not want sound I'll tell you which plug to unplug from the board.


ps. Parallax tends to put all their BS2 24 pins chips on sale for around 25 bucks. When they are not on sale it will cost you 70 bucks a chip. Just thought you might like to know this.