When you enter your local hackspace, you might be greeted by a friend, acquaintance, or in the case of Vancouver Hackspace, a robotic pony. This robo-greeter is based on a Furreal Friends Baby Butterscotch toy, which is advertised as being “not just any pony.” While meant to be cute and cuddly, when stripped of its fur and heavily modified, the results are potentially quite terrifying.
After being “undressed,” the robot innards were painted a gold color reminiscent of C-3PO and cut in half, then mounted on a wall plaque like some sort of trophy. The original controller board was supplemented with a new perfboard assembly, containing a SparkFun Pro Micro along with relays to activate the pony’s capacitive sensors for control. A trio of PIR sensors detects human movement, allowing the system to respond by shaking its head, neighing, and letting out some sort of low growling sounds.
If that wasn't enough, eyes are enhanced with addressable LED eyes as well, “because hackspace,” which seems like a reasonable enough explanation to anyone that’s visited such an establishment. In his explanation video below, David Bynoe says that “it’s good practice to use up every part of your pony.” To this end he explains that the skin can make a “dandy pillow." He also shows how the back end is actually mounted on the opposite wall, making it appear that the pony’s midsection has somehow been trapped there by some cruel trick of physics manipulation!