Entertainment

Will Mr. Soccer Be In Your Stocking?

Posted 26 Oct 2005 at 00:57 UTC by The Swirling Brain Share This

PC Magazine has a wonderful gift idea for Christmas? Mr. Soccer is a little robo-soccer tournament in a box! You get two little remote control soccer robots with remotes, a cardboard playing field, a couple of goals and a tiny soccer ball! You can have a mega RoboCup style tournament with all of your friends and have up to 7 robots on each side if you want to buy that many extra robots, though. Of course the playing field is kind of small for that many robots so you'll probably have to make a bigger playing field. It's not autonomous, but it looks like great robo-soccer fun. Similarly, there's another toy out called Sumo Robots that lets you play remote control robo-sumo with a friend. What I'd like to see is a mini-battlebots kind of thing! Perhaps, these things could be hackable with an 8 pin pic chip on top to create the ultimate autonomous mini-robo-soccer or mini-battlebots setup! However, the price of these things will have to come down a bit to make them worth hacking!


Mr. Soccer's in my closet, posted 27 Oct 2005 at 08:34 UTC by lafugitt » (Master)

The "Mr. Soccer" set has been out in Japan for over a year now. My wife surprised me with one for Christmas last year, and we had some fun playing with it, though I'm not convinced it was worth the price she paid (around USD$50). The soccer robots are cute, but have limited functionality. If you have a bunch of friends over for a party, and a good supply of beer, the game would be an attention getter.

Unfortunately it doesn't offer much to attract the hacker. I'm an avid robot hacker and would have jumped at the chance to do some heavy mods on poor Mr. Soccer and post them on my blog at Robot's Dreams but I just couldn't figure out why I would want to spend the time on it. You could certainly hack the remotes by tapping into them - but what would you do after that? So, my Mr. Soccer set got pushed to the back of the shelf for a while, and then into the closet where it hasn't seen the light of day since the middle of January....

Why????, posted 27 Oct 2005 at 13:07 UTC by dogsbody_d » (Master)

Well, I would have thought that for a lot of folks the mechanics of the soccer-dudes would be a useful platform for er... robot soccer!

We've had a lot of success with removing the r/c gear from toys and replacing it with PICs and H-bridges. In fact, you don't even need to g o that far. A guy in our lab just cut some tracks on an R/C car so that the radio gear became an input to the PIC which output motor commands.

Obviously some sensors would be needed for true robot-foota action....

That's what I thought, but..., posted 29 Oct 2005 at 16:14 UTC by lafugitt » (Master)

"Well, I would have thought that for a lot of folks the mechanics of the soccer-dudes would be a useful platform for er... robot soccer!"

I was really hoping that was the case, but unfortunately the mechanics just don't lend themselves to hacking.

There are two drive motors (pretty cheap motors unfortunately) that have a simple ratchet/cam mechanism that causes the 'foot' to kick when you drive them forward but not when you drive them backwards. The soccer like action comes from different combinations of driving the left, right, or both feet at the same time. And there's a 'kick' mode triggered by pressing the center button that causes a short burst forward with both feet. It's cute, but no where near as hackable as a R/C car from your local Radio Shack.

You can see my detailed comments, including a closeup of the motor/feet action in some photos and a video in the Mr. Soccer review on my website.

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