Using Inputs and Outputs to Make a Toy

Having considered digital inputs and outputs, you’ve already seen more than 50% of a toy’s hardware. Oh sure, we should talk about the fancier sensors, motor control, and audio outputs but those are one-offs, specific to a toy’s particular function. Many toys don’t have them or only have one; buttons and lights are enough for some toys...

I’ve mentioned the processors in the toys a few times. I can’t show you what is inside the software (partially because the designers sensibly locked out the ability to read the code from their processors). I can show you how to figure out what is in the software without breaking any laws or copy protection.

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Quadcopter Controller: Buttons and Joysticks

The quadcopter controller has some normal push buttons which work the same way that the karaoke buttons work. The on/off switch is a slide switch (like karaoke’s on/off switch but its action goes side-to-side instead up-and-down), the rest are momentary buttons. From the outside, it may not be obvious that the controller’s flight trimmer inputs are momentary buttons, they look like rocker switches

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Introducing the Toys

I'm writing a book about how to learn embedded software concepts by taking apart toys.  This is the first chapter. I hope you enjoy it.


I talk to many engineering friends who say they took apart their toys (and everything else). I was not like that. I didn’t know it was possible to take objects apart. I definitely didn’t know how much I could learn. I never imagined how fun it would be.


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