Monday, November 26, 2012

Furby Care and Resurrection

I recently went shopping with my wife and while in John Lewis we ended up in their toy department. To my surprise Furbies are back and have new features, and having checked out the web (slayer furbies) I went up into the loft to retrieve the original 1998 Furbies that I knew were still up there.
The Furbies had survived, mostly I think because they had developed faults which I hadn't fixed for their original owners (my 2 daughters).
Getting the Furbies going required a bit of sandpaper to refresh the battery terminals for one, and a jumper wire soldering on the other to bridge the broken battery compartment terminal.

Furby Care and resurrection:

  1. They don't wake up by themselves, you have to tip them upside down.
  2. They don't "learn" anything, it's all pre-programmed 
  3. They randomly generate their name and personality upon reset, the reset procedure is to turn them upside down, depress the tongue and hold it depressed and then press the reset stud in the base with a pen. 
  4. If they "jam" you can un-jam them using the reset stud on the bottom, this causes the single internal motor to run through a complete motion cycle backwards and forwards.
  5. Initial power up - this stumped me, they'd been in the loft for 10 years with no power, the first set of rechargeables I dumped in simple drained immediately without sparking any life, I was testing the Furbies with a test meter which is how I noticed the drop in voltage on the cells. The second set caused a little spark of life, but the Furby wasn't completely responsive until the third freshly charged set went in (they've survived now for 5 days on that set though). I think they must have some capacitative component that maintains a fairly large charge and drains the batteries realy quickly when depleted. In '98 we were fairly strapped for cash, I can't imagine a constant supply of duracel batteries would have been popular on our weekly shopping bill. 
  6. Their memory survived ten years! They woke up speaking English and wanting to play a game and be fed, which is presumably where they were up to in their "learning" when they were retired from animation. I reset one of them to test this, still can't work out there names though. 
  7. Tickle technique: I skinned one of the Furbies (there are guides on-line to tell you how to do this, use your favourite search engine :D ) because I thought the tickle sensor on the stomach of one of them wasn't working, however I discovered it's a rocker, the switch rotates around a vertical pivot; the easiest tickle technique for me is to hold the furby upright in cupped both hands, and use your thumbs alternately to rock the switch; you can also reach the back sensor with your fingers to "pet" the device using its' back sensor.
  8. Clapping slowly can get them to dance (they don't dance as good as the new ones though), they don't seem to respond to music with a fast beat.

That's as far as I've got with them. There are Furbish dictionaries, so you can decode what they're trying to say, putting two together and stimulating them accelerates the "stupid" one to the same level as the "clever one". I've seen them play hide and seek together with no interaction from me, both spooky and interesting.
I had thought I would use them to make an computer controlled animatronic Furby, but I think my girls might want their Furbies back now that they're working and we can afford the batteries :D
I have the makings of an IR sender in the loft from another project, the IR codes that the Furbies use to talk to one another are well documented now, to I may try to make them sneeze via IR for my next post on this topic.
That's all for now!