Hacking the MiP - Proto Pack

This Tutorial is Retired!

This tutorial covers concepts or technologies that are no longer current. It's still here for you to read and enjoy, but may not be as useful as our newest tutorials.

Contributors: CaseyTheRobot
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MiP Robotics Platform

The MiP Robotic Platform is the first self-balancing robot that you get to control and with which you can play games. The MiP can drive, dance, plays games, battle with other MiPs, respond to simple hand motions and can be remotely controlled by a compatible iOS or Android device. But did you know you can hack it?

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Hacking Port Exposed!

The hacking port breaks out the following signals: * GND - A ground connection to the battery on the MiP * RX - A 3.3v signal level UART receive pin * TX - A 3.3v signal level UART transmit pin * 6v (Battery) - Raw battery power

Required Materials

There are a few components that you will need in order to exploit that port.

Once you have all the parts you need, let's get started!

Attaching the Proto Pack

Step 1. Remove Battery Pack

You want to make sure the MiP is powered off and the batteries are removed before we start hacking away.

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Battery Pack Screw Locations

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Battery Pack removed

Step 2. Drill and Remove Wheel Screws

Fortunately/unfortunately the manufacturer glued the screw caps on the wheels. Good for consumers, ad for hacking. Take your favorite drilling device, and carefully create a hole in the wheel. This will expose enough of the screw head to get a phillips head screw driver to the screw head. I found that a 3/16" drill bit works great. I have also used a Dremel rotary tool to grind out the plug. NOTE: Remember to drill both sides.

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Drilling for Wheel Screws

Step 3. Remove Wheels

Using a small phillips screwdriver, remove both wheels. If the holes you drilled were small enough, the screws will stay in the wheels.

Step 4. Remove the Eight (8) Body Screws.

Remove the 8 body screws that hold the two halves of the MiP together (be sure not to lose the screws so you can put it back together). NOTE: The wheels should already be removed, disregard them in this photo.

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Body Screw Locations

Step 5. Remove Electrical Connections

There are three cables to remove. They are all different enough that it shoudl be obvious where each is replaced. Here is a quick overview of what each cable is for.

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Connections of a MiP

Step 6. Make a hole for the hacking cable

Here is where you will need a rotary tool or some skill with a drill. You need to create a hole in the back to allow the hacking cable to pass through the shell. This doesn't have to look pretty, it will be covered up later.

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Make a hole that looks kinda like that, "just kinda funny lookin' "

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"Steady now, easy does it"

Step 7. Solder the Connector to the Proto-Pack

Solder the 4-pin connector to the back of the Proto-Pack. The front side has a Sparkfun and OSHW logo. The backside does not. NOTE: Pay close attention to the orientation of the connector. There is a small groove located on the bottom of the connector, this groove should be pointed towards the outside of the board as shown below.

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Step 8. Remove the Battery Pack Plate

Remove the three screws that hold the back plate on. It's not necessary to keep these screws.

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Remove Screws to Make Room for Proto-Pack

Step 9. Assembling the Battery Holder

Using the 4-40 screws and nuts, re-assemble the Battery Holder by replacing the back plate with the Proto-Pack. Make sure the 4-pin connector is facing towards the Battery socket.

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Assembled Battery Holder

Step 10. Re-assemble the MiP

Before re-placing the back shell, plug in the Expansion Cable. Thread the Expansion Cable through the hole you created in Step 5. Replace the 8 screws that were removed in Step 4. Replace the two wheels.

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Expansion Cable Exposed

Step 11. Did you forget the Arms?

I managed to re-assemble my MiP with out arms... It happens.

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No Arms...

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Where did I put them?!

Step 12. Final Assembly

First make sure the Expansion Cable is exposed. Then plug this into the assembled battery holder. Once the connection is made, simply replace the battery holder and use the three M3 x 12mm screws to complete assembly. NOTE: Don't forget to install the 4xAAA batteries

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Final Assembly Components

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Inserting the Expansion Cable

Step 13. You're Done!

Admire your fine craftsmanship and start hacking!

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Installed Proto Pack

Resources and Going Further

Now that you are ready to hack you may be interested in some of these other tutorials: