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  • Yury Gitman 10:35 pm on September 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    The Disassembly of a ClickBox… 

    I wasn’t really interested in taking apart a toy that had motors in it or could move around and make noise, etc. So instead I found a toy that I thought was really interesting in terms of talking to other devices to send a receive information. It’s called ClickBox by VTech. Basically, this little cube is the home to a little digital dude (in this case, a body builder) that you help to train and take care of so that when he comes into contact with other characters he can beat them at various games and competitions. He can talk to other characters by connecting one side of its cube with the side of another cube via magnets. It can also be plugged into a computer through USB to play in online games against other characters in a virtual world. Here’s a little video of how it worked before I took it apart. Sorry about the reflection…it couldn’t be helped too much…

    http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=1720879&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
    Click Box Toy Demo from Katrina Bekessy on Vimeo.

    Ready to see it’s innards? Here it is!


    Title: The Cube
    Description: Here’s how the cube looks from each side. On the top right pic, you can see how the magnets work to connect to cubes together so they can talk to each other. When connected, one of the magnet buttons depresses to activate communication.


    Title: The first peek inside…
    Description: The first thing I opened was the place where the battery goes. It’s a 3-Volt battery…nothing larger could possibly fit in it! After I opened that, though, I couldn’t find how to get in there deeper. Turns out that these little rubber grippie things on the corners can pop off and there you’ll find more screws. Tricky!


    Title: Packed like sardines
    Description: Once I finally got inside, the entire cube was packed with bundles of wires for the power, the USB, the little LCD screen, and the boards on each side of the cube that can talk with the other cubes. I love how the wires are bundled using tape…Seems so cheap and crude, but I guess it makes sense! I have a bunch of tape holding things together in my laptop as well. 🙂


    Title: Here’s where it starts getting cool!
    Description: Finding out how the communication happens between cubes was a nice little surprise. It’s so simple – when they connect with a magnet, a button depresses this little spring coil, turning on a little IR transmitter and receiver to do all the talking. It should be noted that the IR setup on the other side of the cube is opposite of this so that when two cubes are connected the IR transmitter of one cube is aligned with the IR receiver of the other cube.


    Title: The IR is only half of it…
    Description: To really make the IR stuff work, a lot depends on the material used. Yury helped me discover that these two sides of the cube were made with translucent material so the IR signal can pass through. The magnet is there to make sure that cubes click together and stay aligned properly.


    Title: Some cool little buttons/switches too!
    Description: I discovered some switches that I almost didn’t notice at first. The buttons on the faceplate of the cube used to control the little character actually work thanks to these little actuator switches that are so tiny and flat that I almost didn’t think they would really depress when I pushed them. The little reset button on the battery board was also pretty cool. It’s nothing but a little bit of conductive material that comes in contact with a little part of the board to connect the circuit.


    Title: The chip and the rest of it
    Description: The main board of the cube where the chip resides was pretty standard: some resistors, capacitors, and stuff. There was also a small motion sensor on board (the character responds to being shaken), and I liked how nicely the screen connected to the board. It was also interesting to see a huge glob of hot glue slabbed on to protect some of the soldered parts.

    …and there you have it! I’m really glad I chose this toy. I learned a lot…from the way the toy was designed physically to pack all that stuff into it, to the type of technology they chose to use. I really liked seeing how such simple parts could make a such a complex little toy!

     
  • Yury Gitman 9:21 pm on September 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Hello Folks! 

    Screamingme
    Hello! I’m Katrina, a second year MFA student at Parsons. I like making stuff…like toys with computer stuff in them!

    My background is in Integrated Marketing Communications, which basically means that I  know a lot about mass media and communication theory. My interest in com theory led me to Parsons so I can continue exploring the means by which media is served to society through all these techie gadgets we have and try to contribute something positive to all of it. I like programming and building stuff, and learning a lot about usability and interactivity. So that where I’m headed…

    Favorite toy? NOT Barbie! Santa, however, did give me a Nintendo when I was in Kindergarten and I loved it. I’d have to say, though, that my favorite toy/game was Simon. I loved playing with things that required speed and memory. It’s such a simple toy, but I could play it for hours.Simon_2

     
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