Review of WowWee Paper Jamz

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DOC
DOC's picture

Whew... okay, I'm back, apologies for being so busy, however now that I have a little bit of time, I'll throw a few things out myself that ya'll might find interesting... I've noticed that with my drums (I have two, red one on the left and a black one on my right. then I just sit two guitars in the middle of my little 'jam table' facing opposite directions & laying flat, with three amps. The wife says no more, even though I can tell she's impressed when I play them all together... and I need just two, perhaps three more amps, but we'll keep that between me and everyone here for a few days before they just kind of appear, Where's-Waldo style... Hey, they're pretty cheap, multi-functional and one of them I use to play my own MP3's through as I'm not fond of the 'scratchy' songs in the units themselves. Back on drum topic, if you haven't got one of these and are entertaining the thought of snapping up one, remember to keep the protective plastic overlay to keep your drums working for as long as possible. I think you can even play through it, if you never take it off and leave it factory-applied fresh looking.

Ah, those elusive pads, what to do, what to do to let one use drumsticks instead of their digits...? Personally, I prefer using my fingers but if someone is just hellbent on sticks, you can get a portable USB PoweredDrumkit, which uses sticks, from here:

http://www.lightinthebox.com/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&...

for about 15$ (*grinning sheepishly* - I did and they should be here any day now...). But for those who wish to traverse their own path with the only their WowWee drumset and some sticks, I have noticed that nearly everytime one of my insulated speaker cords will make the drums work (especially the large bass drum due to it's larger surface area), as the coiled wire slides over both the drums' and the guitars' touch capacitors, if that helps any.

For anyone who wants and must just have that high-hat mod option, I'd suggest using an old Playstation -or whatever brands- racing wheel's accelerator foot pedal, that'd work great for an app like that...

Right now, I am playing around with DJ Mixmaster to see what kind of stuff I can come up with do synthesizing everything together.

I'll attempt to take/toss some pictures up once I have a bit more time...

-DOC

MrScott
MrScott's picture

By the by... part 2...

I did see the amps at BigLots this week. They were on a toy section shelf, not near the guitars, which were hanging on the toy section rear wall.

The guitars didn't interest me, but an Amp might be useful for giggles connected to my laptop at the office.

DOC
DOC's picture

Furthermore, I am positively absolutely and kind of certain that, with some PVC pipe, one could build a full size-set. Just need a stronger charge current strong enough to cover the much-wider expanses of the new heads...

-DOC

Tim6
Tim6's picture

so, after week 1 of "getting to know" the home made paper jamz "double kick/hi hat extension module" I found the heavy duty push buttons to be quite squeaky, clunky and slower to break the circuit than to make the circuit. By substituting them for industrial micro/limit switches (pizzato mv17-these are far more responsive) the unit becomes much more playable, time will tell if these switches can handle the punishment associated with being part of a real pretend drum kit. This switch has a 13mm diameter roller at the top of its plunger which should work well in conjunction with a basic foot board/pedal and thus giving the system an even more realistic feel/playability. The hi hat lock down switch works a treat but I found the "foot area" became too crowded with this extra switch in place (it was fitted as an after thought). As there is plenty of room inside the actual paper jamz unit I shall hard wire the switch in the front or side based on whichever is easiest to reach while playing. Stay tuned!
Tim.

Captain DooDoo
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Go buy a REAL guitar. This thing is a joke. I can see a kid losing interest in this piece of garbage really fast and wanting to play a real guitar. Then you end up spending more money anyway.

TikaC
TikaC's picture

I get this same exact type of thing on my YouTube channel to the point where I had to shut down comments. It's a TOY. And well.... kids do lose interest in some toys and not in others. Depends on the kid.

Captain DooDoo
Captain DooDoo's picture

While it is true that Paper Jamz are just toys, even some toy guitars enable consumers to simulate "real" guitar playing (playing notes, fingering REAL chord shapes, etc.), even if they don't stay in tune too long. WowWee should have taken more time to develop this product to actually simulate real guitar playing, and maybe they would have a winner. Cap sensor technology has so much potential, but WowWee failed to really maximize it, settling instead to make a quick buck. Development costs would have been higher for sure, but sometimes you have to spend a few extra clams to get some positive output. Simply put, WowWee jumped on the "fake instrument" bandwagon that Guitar Hero made popular a wee bit too late. Even Rock Band 3's "fake guitar" controllers are apparently set up to mimic guitar strings and fret boards.

Loststream
Loststream's picture

Hello All,

I bought a Paper Jamz Guitar, Amp, & Strap combo set for my 7 year old son for Christmas recently.

We're having a problem with the Amp, as the sound volume is extremely low when the guitar is plugged into it.

On the otherhand, when I plug my MP3 player into the Amp, the sound quality and volume loudness is fine.

Does anyone know how to adjust the Amp sound volume when the Guitar is plugged into it? We desparately want it louder!

Any helpful comments will be appreciated!

Loststream
Loststream's picture

Okay, I was able to solve the Amp volume just now.

I just jiggled the jack that goes into the Guitar output/headphone hole, and now the Amp sounds loud. I believe the Guitar output hole is slightly defective. The audio cable is fine as it plays my mp3 songs perfectly fine on the Amp.

Also I just found out that the Amp volume is controlled by the unit plugged in (guitar, mp3, etc.)... However, we had it already set on loudest high volume on the Guitar.

I suppose we'll just have to put up with the testy Guitar output hole as I paid only $15 for the entire guitar/amp/strap combo set at Walmart during their latest Black Friday sales. And I will undoubtedly never be able to find another new combo set at this super low price.

I'm hoping my comments here may help others who may be experiencing the same volume problem with their WowWee Paper Jamz products.

But in the end, my lil son (and his 9 yo sister) are rockin out and lovin this set! It's been very fun for them both! And they look sooo cute playing em too!!!

Jordan Gray
Jordan Gray's picture

Go buy a REAL guitar. This thing is a joke. I can see a kid losing interest in this piece of garbage really fast and wanting to play a real guitar. Then you end up spending more money anyway. While it is true that Paper Jamz are just toys, even some toy guitars enable consumers to simulate "real" guitar playing (playing notes, fingering REAL chord shapes, etc.), even if they don't stay in tune too long. WowWee should have taken more time to develop this product to actually simulate real guitar playing, and maybe they would have a winner. Cap sensor technology has so much potential, but WowWee failed to really maximize it, settling instead to make a quick buck. Development costs would have been higher for sure, but sometimes you have to spend a few extra clams to get some positive output. Simply put, WowWee jumped on the "fake instrument" bandwagon that Guitar Hero made popular a wee bit too late. Even Rock Band 3's "fake guitar" controllers are apparently set up to mimic guitar strings and fret boards.

To quote a musician: go procreate with yourself.

Just because we're buying these doesn't mean that we can't play a real guitar, or that we can't afford a real guitar, or that we even bought this to use as a real guitar.

I got mine to hack. Quite frankly, the "song" features were really disappointing, but the freestyle mode lets you play it like it's a piano, or as if you are only playing one string on a real guitar. It's actually quite fun for me because I can't play guitar for real: I can only pick notes.

But I've already taken it apart and am documenting the schematics and such and don't even "play" with it the way WowWee expects half its end users to. LOL!

On the topic of disassembling, though, somebody needs to take pictures of the teardown precess, including which screws go where. When I put it back together, I was missing one screw in one place and yet I had seven left over. ???

- Jordan

GWJax
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Jordan Gray said: On the topic of disassembling, though, somebody needs to take pictures of the teardown precess, including which screws go where. When I put it back together, I was missing one screw in one place and yet I had seven left over. ??? - Jordan

Jordan, since you have already ripped it down why did you not take some photos durring this process? LOL You could have posted them here instead of someone else. I have already posted some ripdown photos but not showing where the screws go..

How far have you gotten with the schematics? are you going to post the final schetch? Also what type of hacks do you plan for this?

 

Jax

Jordan Gray
Jordan Gray's picture

 

GWJax said:

Jordan Gray said: On the topic of disassembling, though, somebody needs to take pictures of the teardown precess, including which screws go where. When I put it back together, I was missing one screw in one place and yet I had seven left over. ??? - Jordan

Jordan, since you have already ripped it down why did you not take some photos durring this process? LOL You could have posted them here instead of someone else. I have already posted some ripdown photos but not showing where the screws go.. How far have you gotten with the schematics? are you going to post the final schetch? Also what type of hacks do you plan for this? Jax

So many questions!

First: I didn't take pictures because I could always tear it back apart and take pictures then. I have never ever had problems with forgetting which screws go where, so I'm really beating myself up right now. That's why I wish someone else could do it, because I can't figure out which screws go where....

I'm mostly documenting the schematics of the inputs, and I'm doing it in my head ntil I can get it figured out. Something is wrong, though, I'll take some pictures and upload them to show what I mean.

As far as posting the final sketch of the input mapping, I will definitely do it.

Lastly, I was expecting a different sort of multitouch interface, similar to a normal touchscreen, where it sees the entire thing as one area. The Parer Jamz, unfortunately, see a bunch of buttons, basically, and they are activated my electrical charges rather than pressure. Oh well. Frown

Jordan Gray
Jordan Gray's picture

Haha, I forgot to come back and post pics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is just the inside.

 

This a closer-up of the PCB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is an even closer-up of the PCB.

Jordan Gray
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sorry to chain reply.

 

You might notice, in the second picture, the ribbon cable. It just gets pressed up against the PCB's contacts. However, as I mentioned earlier, I have been working on the input schematics.

 

The first picture here shows how the ribbon cable connects to the PCB. It just moves up and to the right, no rotation necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This second picture is the schematic showing which contacts are used by the sensors on the guitar borad.
Note: I only have this guitar, it may be different on each model. Sorry if you can't read the tiny labels, they say Strum, Strum, Mute, Vol., Mode, and Demo.

Notice that the contact on the far left is "unused". In debug mode it is fully functional, which raises the question: are all the chips physically the same, and just have different limiting software on them for each guitar? If so, maybe some guitars have an extra fret that is used by that last contact. If that's the case then it might be possible to gain access to every song from just one chip, but that's purely hypothetical.

 

Please also notice that the frets' contacts are in reverse order, so the "first" contact would be the extra one at the end of some guitars (theoretically). Having the contacts arranged in such a formation makes it easy to do this.

 

Debug mode is interesting. Think about overlaying the frets over the contatcts in the proper order, except it goes from the first contact through to the last one; the second-to-last one has a random beep that sounds like a generated tone (555 timer or something). All the other fret-contacts (in debug mode) produce individual notes, scaled from the left to the right, so it's obviously tested in debug mode before they attach the front (with the frets and cable) while at the factory. Either that or it's opened back up to be tested and then put back together, but I somehow doubt that.

 

Debug mode contains a note for each contact but each note is different, which is another thing that makes me think you could get that extra fret. (It's actually more fun to play the debug mode than the regular "freestyle mode" because at that point it's like a giant multitouch piano. :D

 

 - Jordan AKA Stryker

Jordan Gray
Jordan Gray's picture

Yeah, they're cool... for hacking. Unless you're like a 10-year-old boy, they're really overrated.

Jordan Gray
Jordan Gray's picture

well then, you might enjoy hacking them! :D

Jordan Gray
Jordan Gray's picture

well, if you know anything about I2C, that would be awesome.

Jordan Gray
Jordan Gray's picture
Jordan Gray
Jordan Gray's picture

We need someone who knows about I2C.

TikaC
TikaC's picture

The YouTube video isn't on PaperJamz that I know of. And this thread is about Paper Jamz, not jewelry. :-/

Jamie
Jamie's picture

Tika, do you think maybe we need to get Peter to either ban xboxmaster or close this thread. I am sick of the spam lately. Now it's one user :( Peter can't just close every thread though.

Every day I check the site and always see xboxmaster has posted something in the recent posts. I don't get to see someone else anymore :( It's either SPAM or just a single comment like "cool"

TikaC
TikaC's picture

Jaime, I agree. I think Peter will see this though. I know he'll do something about it. I agree he probably won't want to close every thread.

Jordan - that I2C looks to me to be some kind of I/O controller, like for disc drives but instead for this particular application maybe a bus type thing. I don't know much about that type of hardware though. Maybe that is what is used to send signals from the touch-pad on the guitar to the main CPU board?

Jamie
Jamie's picture

Tika, I forgot to mention I know quite a bit about I2C. It is a digital signal and uses pins labelled SDA and SCL. SDA is Data and SCL is Clock. It is a 2 wire interface and SCL (clock) is used for timing. An example is my compass uses it on my backpack :) Seems the touch pad on the guitar is like a compass (it transmits when you want it to or in a time) the touch pad might be I2C. So if you hold a "string" in the guitar the CPU board would time the signal using SCL to come in very fast. Then the SDA (data) would transmit data to the CPU board and the board would then play the sound that equals to the key pressed.

How many wires does the touch pad have?

TikaC
TikaC's picture

That sounds cool! Jordon is trying to figure out the electronics of it. I long since tossed out all my Paper Jamz stuff as I didn't see where I'd do any PJ hacking. I rather stick with robotics. :)

But the touch-sensor stuff does sound interesting! Maybe it can be hacked to do single-string notes too?

TimTim
TimTim's picture

Can I plug my paper jamz guitar into a real guitar amp? I tried and got nothing (obviously had to use a 3.5mm to 1/4 inch jack to do it. Anyone know about this?

TimTim
TimTim's picture

I want to plug my paper jamz guitar into a real amp. Is that possible. I tried it (had to use a 3.5 mm to 1/4 inch adapter) but got nothing. I tried it on a sound system and gave it some phantom power and got nothing. Anyone know about this?

Jordan Gray
Jordan Gray's picture

TikaC:
"The YouTube video isn't on PaperJamz that I know of. And this thread is about Paper Jamz, not jewelry. :-/" yeah, ikr?

TikaC:
"Jordan - that I2C looks to me to be some kind of I/O controller, like for disc drives but instead for this particular application maybe a bus type thing. I don't know much about that type of hardware though. Maybe that is what is used to send signals from the touch-pad on the guitar to the main CPU board?" That's what I'm hoping.

Jamie:
"Tika, I forgot to mention I know quite a bit about I2C. It is a digital signal and uses pins labelled SDA and SCL. SDA is Data and SCL is Clock. It is a 2 wire interface and SCL (clock) is used for timing. An example is my compass uses it on my backpack :) Seems the touch pad on the guitar is like a compass (it transmits when you want it to or in a time) the touch pad might be I2C. So if you hold a "string" in the guitar the CPU board would time the signal using SCL to come in very fast. Then the SDA (data) would transmit data to the CPU board and the board would then play the sound that equals to the key pressed." Again, that's what we're hoping. A friend pointed out that it might have been used to dump the firmware on the chip, rather than anything useful to hackers.

Jamie:
"How many wires does the touch pad have?" I made a schematic and description, see this post: http://www.robocommunity.com/forum/thread/17802/Review-of-WowWee-Paper-J...

TimTim:
"Can I plug my paper jamz guitar into a real guitar amp? I tried and got nothing (obviously had to use a 3.5mm to 1/4 inch jack to do it. Anyone know about this?... I want to plug my paper jamz guitar into a real amp. Is that possible. I tried it (had to use a 3.5 mm to 1/4 inch adapter) but got nothing. I tried it on a sound system and gave it some phantom power and got nothing. Anyone know about this?" No phantom power is necessary. Just make sure and plug the headphone jack all the way into the output port on the guitar, for some reason they can be messed up and they don't go all the way in at first.

lucasj1992
lucasj1992's picture

a buddy of mine is looking into gettin one of the guitars. is it worth the money?

Hippie
Hippie's picture

I just noticed that WowWee now has a pro model of the Paper Jamz guitar.
It has the interesting feature of being able to load your own songs
and different guitar sounds into it.

Does anyone know anything about how the songs are processed by the app. to load into the guitar?

What format are those .pji instrument sound files in?

philly joe
philly joe's picture

Target is now clearancing the Pro Guitar ($7.5), Amp ($3), and Drum Kit ($7.5)... At least in South Philadelphia.

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