The R.O.B., or Robotic Operating Buddy, was an accessory launched in 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. While only two games were made for this “robo-buddy” – which seem to have been rarely used – these 'bots are nonetheless something of a landmark in the history of Nintendo and console gaming.
Austin Dixon was lucky enough to find one of these ‘bots at an estate sale for a mere dollar, and decided to hack it into something more usable with a Teensy board. The Teensy is soldered up to interface with the robot by sending signals to the original motor controller, causing it to move its arms up, down, left, and right, and open and close. Dixon also added LEDs to the eyes, which adds a nice effect, and are also controlled with the Teensy.
User interface is via a PHP file, which generates a local browser page with a series of actuation buttons for the arms and LEDs. The code sends serial data to the Teensy, which activates the robot’s movements/lighting as demonstrated in the video below.
Code is available on GitHub, though you’ll need to poke around on the circuit board to duplicate this custom R.O.B.’s operation.
Dixon ended up selling this customized device to someone who wanted to use it in a commercial. While it seems this was originally a fun hack for entertainment, you really never know where such exploits may eventually take you!