A recent Maker Society display hosted under the auspices of the University of Kent featured a group of Furbies “singing” the classic Bohemian Rhapsody performed by the late Freddie Mercury and Queen.
According to HackADay’s Adam Fabio, each of the doll’s functions are run from a single motor and cam system, with a limit switch “telling” the on-board (Atmel ATmega328) microcontroller (MCU) when the cam is at the zero position. Meanwhile, an optical encoder keeps track of the cam as it moves.
“Many classic animatronic systems use an audio recording for motion. Typically a stereo recorder would perform double duty, [with] the first track containing the audio for the animation. A second track would contain audio tones corresponding to movement of each of the degrees of freedom of the doll being animated,” Fabio explained.
“Because the two tracks were on the same strip of magnetic tape, the audio and movement would always be in sync. Multitrack tape record and playback systems added even more flexibility to this type of system.”
However, the Maker Society decided to go with a “computerized twist” on the above-mentioned system for their Bohemian Rhapsody singing Furbies.
More specifically, a set of positions and times are stored in Comma Separated Variable (CSV) format, while a java program plays the song and reads the file – relaying movement commands to the Furbies at appropriate intervals.
Interested in learning more about the Atmel-powered singing Furbies? You can check out the project page here.