WowWee RoboPanda's RFID Friend

I've had my RoboPanda for a while now. As you may know, he has a little furry friend, who he recognizes using an RFID tag. What you might not know unless your up on your conspiracy theories, is that RFID tags are going to be the bane of our existence in the near future. At first I thought I could live with it, the teddy panda is so cute, but it ate away at me. Knowing that in some way, in some shape, someone could be monitoring my RoboPanda / Teddy interaction. I had to know, and unfortunately that meant my cute little teddy panda had to go under the knife.

I had no real idea of where the RFID tag was hiding, but I figured it was somewhere in the stomach. I decided the best point of entry was the label on his back. So I could extract the RFID tag, and get rid of the label at the same time. After slicing him open and removing most of the stuffing, I finally located the RFID in a little pouch attached to the inside of his chest.

Now that I had the tag, I had to find out what was on it. But the only way to see what information Wow Wee was hiding inside that little tag was with the RFID Reader in the RoboPanda. Determining how to interface with the RFID reader could be a long and arduous struggle, but since there are only 3 wires, and the main circuit board is labeled, it took about 2 minutes.

Label Colour Function
VDD1 Yellow 3.3V
RF_ADF Orange Signal
I spent some time examining the signals, I stared at the screen of my oscilloscope, the signal that the little cuddly bear puts out, the one that I coldly sliced open, is nothing more than a string of zero's. I had once again allowed my paranoia to get the better of me, and hurt someone I love. Fortunately, Teddy survived the experience. Oh well, back to reality.

With a little bit of desoldering, I removed the shield off the RFID receiver, unfortunately whats underneath is another epoxy blob, so there is no way to know whats in there. I suspect though, it means that the receiver will not be able to read any other type of RFID tag.

The signal is 8 bits long and looks a lot like the demodulated signal from Wow Wee's remotes. An examination of the RFID tag revealed that it has 10 jumper pads on it. Two of them are tied to capacitors and connect to the same input. The other eight, labeled OP0 to OP7, relate to the 8 bits of the signal. Closing one of the jumper pads, changes the bit in the signal. The signal looks a little something like this.

While the RoboPanda currently only recognizes the RFID tag if it is set to 0x00, the tag allows for up to 256 different tag ID's. My initial investigations into the RoboPanda's modules suggest that they contain programing along with sounds and actions, which makes sense if you think about it.

What all this means is that WowWee has left the RoboPanda open. If there are enough sales, and if there is enough interest, they might in the future release additional modules and furry friends to go with them. It also seems, despite my insanity, that I am not the only one to try something like this. Andr0id pop'ed up on the RoboSapien.TK forums not long after I finished doing this. He seems to be trying to replace the RoboPanda's brain, he's only part way along, but it's not a bad read.


GWJax's picture

N. have you tried to reprograming the tag, I just bought the parrallax rfid module along with 2 tags, although I have not tried programming this unit yet, but once I do, I'm gong to see if I can read and program diffrent tags from difrent sources. I'll let you know what I find when this is done. but any info you have on the pandas or other tags will be great! thank

Nocturnal's picture

No, I don't believe the card can be reprogrammed. As I mentioned in the article, to change the bits being transfered, you have to physically short one of the jumpers. I would be very interested in knowing if the RFID tag in the teddy can be read by other readers.

All I can tell you about the RFID tag in the teddy is that I believe it is operating on 13.56 MHz, and once powered, it repeats the same signal over and over.

GWJax's picture

humm, I'll see if I can find a teddy to get the tag out of it and do some research on the RFID readers, I know that the Parrallax uses a 10 bit code but I wounder if I can change this plus the frequency on it. I assume you can since you are doing the programming. I'll get back to ya when I read up on the reader a bit more.