I know I'll have nightmares over this

21.09.2008 22:24

I started working on Piki's neck today.

To access the machinery that moves his neck I had to first remove the skin. There are no obvious means of doing that (removing the only visible screws on his feet didn't have any worthwhile effect). Since I want to leave as few visible marks as possible I spent some time choosing the spot where to start cutting the rubbery skin.

Closer inspection revealed a stitch running around the neck, above the shoulders and over the back. This seemed like a natural way to proceed. It was pretty easy to make clean cuts in the rubber with a scalpel around the stitch.

Well, it turned out that this first cut was the only thing that was easy about it. Removing the skin from the head was slow business. It's well glued to the framework around eyes, ears and nose. To avoid damaging anything I had to slowly separate the skin with a small blade from the inside. It took me the better part of the afternoon to do that.

Pleo Piki's head

Skinning the front half of the torso was easier. The rubber is flexible enough so I could pull out front two legs without any more cutting. I stopped there for now. On the belly the skin seems to be fixed to the plastic around the on/off switch and the battery hatch and I can see no obvious way to access it from the inside to cut off the glue.

Pleo Piki's front gearbox

So, currently I have clear access to what appears to be the front gear box. It looks like the servos for controlling the neck are there - it's now obvious that one of the thin steel wires that connect the neck to the servos has snapped. I hope I won't have to dig any deeper. Even now I'm a bit less optimistic about being able to restore Piki to his full health.

Stepping back for a moment, the sheer amount of stuff that is crammed in this little creature is amazing. There is not a cubic centimeter of space left inside and it's obvious that service access was left out of the list of design goals. Together with skin cutting this job is really starting to look like a surgeon may be better at it.

Another thing I'm starting to wonder is how do they manufacture Pleos? With this kind of complexity (and no larger standard parts like servos, etc.) it seems impossible that any kind of automatic process is involved. Or if it is, I guess we can expect the world to be soon taken over by UGOBE's self-multiplicating robotic overlords.

The other possibility seems equally improbable. Is it really possible to hand-manufacture something like this for less than $350?

Posted by Tomaž | Categories: Digital


It's hard to see him like this :(

Posted by orkaa

Were you able to complete the repair?

Posted by Adrienne

Adrienne, yes I did complete the repair. I presented a talk about it back in 2009 and you can see the repaired Pleo (the one without the skin) beside me on the speaker stand. The talk is in Slovene, but slides might still be interesting:


Posted by Tomaž

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