I've got a monkey!

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iplayfast's picture
I've got a monkey!

There is no chimpanzee formum! I need help in hacking this primate.

I've just received my little monkey and after spending over an hour getting it out of the box, decided it needs a computer interface.


Could we possibly get a monkey forum going. I'll do my best to document the innards, but I'm a software guy, so I'll be needing suggestions and hints.


Initial Impressions:

1. It seems well made.

2. It wouldn't fool anyone as being real, but it is close enough to be in that area that is close enough to freak people out. (I'm thinking of putting it in my wifes bed for her to wake up to.... She already thinks it's too freaky).

3. It doesn't really have a long playablity value, I'm sorry to say. It needs more hacking interaction. You can program it, but after a while the sounds and facial expressions just aren't enough.


4. My goal. to hack it to accept commands from a computer. Hook up computers's sound to the voice output. Use festival speech systhisis to guide the monkeys mouth along with random facial expressions to tell me when I've got mail (and to possibly read it to me). I think also having camera's in the eyes might be interesting.

Moderator, if you do make a monkey forum, please move this post over. Otherwise I shall be forced to post monkey guts posts all over the robopet forum! :)



Khalid J Hosein
Khalid J Hosein's picture

Hello iplayfast,

Thanks for the suggestion. With the impending release of Alive Elvis, we just may create some forums for these 2 products. It's up in the air right now, but we are discussing. Really!

For now, just stick it in the "Other WowWee Products' topic.


iplayfast's picture

Could you move the post over to the proper forum please. (I don't have permssions to do that).

iplayfast's picture

Ok, I've started disasembling it. First off, I'm sorry about the quality of the pictures. I tried a few different things, but nothing seemed to give a good shot.  I also don't know how to post non-thumbnails to this forum. (no luck at all).

It was surprisingly easy to disassemble the bottom, just 8 screws. By contrast, the package it came in took me over an hour to take apart, this seems much nicer.

The bottom has a some electronics, there might be more inside the head, it looks pretty light in the amount of electronics so I'm not sure. There is only one IC, which is a TDA2822L, which is an Audio Amplifier. On the same board there is 4 transisters and some Caps but not much else.

The Guts

One of the things that has me curious is infront of the speaker is a little device with 2 wires coming off it. It doesn't seem to react to sound so it might not be a mic. I don't know why they would install a mike right in front of the speaker anyway unless they were using it as a feedback for weirdness effect.


Looking up into the head from below. The speaker would normally be mounted facing into the hole in the neck. The mystery box is there as well.


There is other circuitry in the base that seems to be power related, and radio related. Radio related is going up inside the head, so there must be more up in there.

I'll post more as I discover more, if you are interested (let me know). Also if someone knows what the mystery circuit might be I'd be happy to hear it.




Nocturnal's picture

You should try searching google, the was a guy who replaced the brain with (i think) a PIC.

Nocturnal's picture

Damn, looks like most of it was on the Parallax forums and has scrolled off.

iplayfast's picture

Yes I've looked for monkey guts all over the web, but have found very little.


I did find that the microphone was probably used to turn off the external mic's when the chimp is howling.


I haven't figured out how to skin the monkey to get at the rest of the head. I've heard it's tricky, (which wasn't much help). I want to be able to re-skin it after I've had my fun.



Nocturnal's picture

Ask monkeypet, his email is on the page.



iplayfast's picture

He emailed me back, and sent some useful info. It looks like the easiest way is to just send singles through the connector at the bottom.

As he says:

For the simple single tap approach, you don't need that much detail -- just open the bottom, clip one wire and do some soldering


Monkey guts 


Aibopet has kindly given me permission to post his finding that he sent to me via email.


Control Code Modulation

The RF radio control is modulated with a simple digital code to specify the different features.
For modulating the signals yourself, the signal looks something like this (timing values are approximate, but they work for me):

Each code is 11 data bits with a specific start and stop sequence. Signal from the radio is normally random noise. When driven from the PC, keep the signal low until needed (ie. the start bit will start with a low->high transition). Start bit: (assuming the signal has been low for some time), the signal goes high for 8.4ms. Data bits: for each of 11 data bits, an encoded signal is sent (total time per bit ~6.4ms) Sends the most significant data bit first If the data bit is 0: signal goes low for ~2.2ms, and high for 4.2ms If the data bit is 1: signal goes low for ~4.2ms, and high for ~2.2s Stop bit: When completed, signal goes low for at least 6.4ms.

The signal described above is the demodulated digital signal found on the pink wire described above.

Control Codes

Here are the code numbers (as used by the driver software).
There are 3 different types of control codes.
The first kind is a simple button press (eg: Demo), the second kind is on of the 6 skits (depends on mood).
For the first two modes, when you press a button, the code is usually sent 8 times by the RF transmitter (the remote) to make sure it gets through.

    Simple Controls (same regardless of mood switches)

  • $009 = DEMO button
  • $00A = Program button
  • $00B = Alive button


  • $006 = enter "chirp" mode (debug mode)
  • $00? = exit "chirp" mode
  • Skit buttons (influenced by current mood)

  • $000 + MOOD = "X" button
  • $001 + MOOD = "Y" button
  • $002 + MOOD = "Z" button
  • $003 + MOOD = "A" button
  • $004 + MOOD = "B" button
  • $005 + MOOD - "C" button

    NOTE: MOOD = $000 (Curious) or $100 (Happy) or $200 (Fearful) or $300 (Feisty)

  • The last kind is the most complicated where two different joystick settings are sent in the same 11 bit code. Which joystick is sent depends on the mood settings (see the manual for how the mood switches influence the functions).
    For the full range of motions, you need to send two different kinds of codes (eg: Mood $000 and Mood $300)
    In the regular remote, the code is sent while the joystick is down (???IIRC).


    MOOD is one of the values described above ($000, $100, $200 or $300).
    RIGHT_DIRECTION is the position of the right joystick (value 0->8).
    LEFT_DIRECTION is the position of the left joystick (value 0->8)>

    The joystick positions (RIGHT_DIRECTION & LEFT_DIRECTION) are specified in 4 bits each:

    • 0 = joystick in center position
    • 1 = joystick up
    • 2 = joystick down
    • 3 = joystick left
    • 4 = joystick right
    • 5 = joystick up and left
    • 6 = joystick up and right
    • 7 = joystick down and left
    • 8 = joystick down and right
    Jeff Block
    Jeff Block's picture

    WowWee Alive products now have their very own forum.  Hope the chimp hacking continues! 

    Also, iplayfast, your images seem to be bad links above.  You can upload your images to RoboCommunity via the edit control, and we will host them for you if you'd like.  If you need help figuring out the control (it's a little cryptic), just PM me and let me know.

    iplayfast's picture

    OK, I've put the image up. (I had no problems seeing it).


    Right now the monkey is lying disassembled on my bench under an irobot development system that has caught my attention. Too many toys, not enough time.  

    Jeff Block
    Jeff Block's picture

    No, not that image, the ones here.  I also had to reign in the code block you posted, because it was pushing the right margin out pretty extremely.  Forgive my edit.  :-)

    iplayfast's picture

    The code block was the first attempt at the image.  Your link just brought me back to this thread.  As the only other images I've uploaded are these I'll put them on again. (they are from your server so I don't know....) P.S. what forum software are you using, (just so I know what to stay away from).


    guts 1


    guts 2 

    GWJax's picture

    Nice I always wanted the monkey but my wife keeps saying no to me so this is just what I need, thanks for starting this thread. As of the removal of the skin I'm sure it like the Elvis so check out my article on the Elvinator part 2 I think this should help out in skinning that beast. If I can get my hands on a chimp pretty cheep I'll help you along. make a photo gallery so we all can see the photos in large format too. I'll be watching this thread for further updates. thanks again

    iplayfast's picture

    Hey that's great. My monkey has be relegated to the top shelf to stare menacingly at people who come into my office. My goal for him was to have a speech synthesizer hooked up to him, with the mouth and random other movements to have
    "conversations" with people. Never got that far, as soon as I realized that I couldn't easily control the motors and had to go through the wireless I lost interest. (In this project)

    Perhaps though depending on your progress I may get back into it.

    GWJax's picture

    My Elvinator will do just what you are wanting your chimp to do but I won't have a camera in the eyes, it will react to voice and use the sensors on his vest to tell were the person is on the left, right, or center and the head will move to that location. I'm going to use A.L.I.C.E or HAL for the interaction with voice and AI. I hope I can get this done by the end of the year but we'll see.
    since your a programmer you can get rid of the main board and replace it with a basic stamp or other MCU that you can program, and of course a little bit of electronics like addind a A/D board, and I'm sure that the chimp has hbridge boards to control the motors, just send a high plus to these lines and you'll have movement but they also have sensor onthem such as a variable resistor or photo opto sensors like the elvis has. so you have to have a circuit to sense these components and program them accordingly so you don't over drive the motors. see the video of the Elvis eye movement and code in the Elvis pcode linkhttp://www.robocommunity.com/forum/thread/12816/The-Elvinator-Source-Cod.... if you need any help just give me a ring or post here.

    MrScott's picture

    I started posting some information on a new chimp purchase here, but decided to split it out to another thread, so that I can control a gallery in the thread.