Hacking Keepons with an Arduino Board

Keepon Pro – originally designed by scientists studying social development – is a “friendly” mini-robot that interacts with children. BeatBots and UK-based toy company Wow! Stuff offers a low-cost version of the Pro, although it lacks the ability to be teleoperated.

Recently, BeatBots co-founder Marek Michalowski co-authored an article in Makezine describing how to connect an Atmel-powered Arduino Nano board to My Keepon’s electronics, allowing users to control the ‘bot using just about any sensor, device or interface.

“The basic principle of this hack is to send commands to the microcontrollers inside My Keepon over the I2C bus. I2C is a two-wire serial interface commonly used for communication between embedded systems and peripherals (wikipedia.org/wiki/I2C),” Michalowski explained.

“We’ve provided access to all commands for setting motor speeds and positions, playing sounds, and retrieving information about audio perception, motor EMF and encoder positions. It’s a straightforward procedure, and you’ll easily be able to impress other Keepon fans with your new dance choreographies, Kinect mash-ups and Wiimote-control demos.”

Michalowski also noted that Makers can choose to mod the ‘bot in a basic fashion (with only a single additional hole drilled into the cylindrical base) or go with a more advanced option by installing the Arduino Nano board (ATmega328) inside the battery compartment, running the USB cable directly into the base and powering My Keepon with an adapter.

“[However], if you want to continue powering the My Keepon with batteries, or if you plan to use Arduino Uno/Mega shields (for wireless communication, additional sensors or actuators, etc.), you’ll probably want to “backpack” the components on the base,” he added.

Interested in learning more about hacking Keepons with an Arduino Board? You can check out the original Makezine article here.

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