Guides to jumpstart your Retrogaming lifestyle
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CRTGAMER
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NES R.O.B Interactive Mod Guide with Updated Repair Info

by CRTGAMER Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:26 am

NES R.O.B Interactive Mod Guide
Or how to kill the value of your collectible with a Mod.

Updated, posted a common needed repair in the reply below.

My other controller mods:
Arcade Controller Mod Guide: Home System Adaption
Arcade Spinner Mod: Tempest Inexpensive Method
Twin Stick Mod Guide: Console Arcade Method

For a great FPS controller get an EdgeFX.

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I bought this little robot a few months ago on a very lucky chance buy. Brand new condition, no scratches at all. Only twenty five dollars in a Deluxe Set box. Only the robot and accessories was in that original NES box. Lucky the thrift store also had a NES Zapper in the glass display case for five bucks. The start of my NES collecting! The entire story is HERE.

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My main gaming TV is a HD CRT. As in Lightguns needing a regular CRT, ROB is now blind. Dreamcast got a reprieve with a VGA Lightgun setup. But poor ROB doesn't see that VGA screen either. I can use the bedroom TV. But with only two games, a very limited gameplay of this NES robot. I don't even have the Stack-Up accessories! So how to get use out of this robot so its not just a dust collector?

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Time to go interactive. A full control of all of ROB's functions. No, not just the silly CRT screen flash, but a direct control!

The Breakdown
Three motors inside ROB.
Motor 1 - Up and Down
Motor 2 - Open and Close Arms.
Motor 3 - Rotate Left and Right.

Two of the motors are behind the arms, a pain to put back together. Glad I pulled that arm cover with ROB upside down. The real headache is in order to change directions, the polarity of the motors are reversed. Tricky, half the switches would have to be positive, other half negative. This rules out a regular gamepad with only one closing circuit at each pad and button. A work around is using Diodes to act as an electrical check valve. There also looks to be resistors attached on each motor terminal, a slight reduction in voltage to reduce the speed. The biggest downfall is isolating the individual PCB traces in the base of the robot. A decision if I should "cut the cord" on ROB's original function of using the sensor screen flash in Gyromite?

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First Fail
My first attempt didn't work out. I was trying to line up diodes to allow the reversible motors of the NES robot to work directly with a NES controller. No luck, looks like I'll have to go with a two pole 3 position momentary toggle switch. Have to isolate both positive and negative to reverse the direction. Three Momentary ON-OFF-ON switches needed. I would have loved to use a NES original controller. Only single pole contacts under the NES buttons. There is that video clip on Youtube, probably used relays which would be expensive for this little hobby mod. Don't worry ROB, I haven't given up, the toggles are the answer.

ImageNintendo R.O.B. Mod: Manual Control


Switch the Switch
Picked up three miniature toggle switches. Three position ON-OFF-ON normal off with both sides momentary on. Convenient spring loaded back to off. Two poles to control both positive and negative leads. A simple matter of reversing leads at the switch for the opposite direction.

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Need an eight strand cable, Frys has a 6 foot Nine Strand. Perfect, I was lucky to get this. No peg hook of the sku, cable was laying on the bottom shelf. I think the same cable I returned from the Diode attempt earlier in the week.

A hunt for a controller base.
FRYs had project boxes, but all the wrong size and too expensive. Home depot more promising, but the blue outlet power boxes were too big. A visit to Industrial Liquidators showed a couple interesting boxes. I almost bought a deep red transparent case for a LED clock, but didn't feel right. In desperation, I was about to use a cat food or lizard worm can. The bottom had an interesting pattern and beautiful anodized copper color, but the wrong shape. Don't laugh, would have been a unique base. I thought of regular game controllers which won't take the toggle switches, the button holes are too big. Come to think of it, I really wanted the size of a NES controller.

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Okay rummaging through my junk boxes I found an old after-market Beeshu Zipper NES pad. Before anyone yells, the Zipper was dead. Bought ages ago at Swap Meet with the cord cut. I could have gotten a new cord for it, but chance of a mismatch not worth frying my Toaster NES.

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The bottom would now be the top. I could have just thrown electrical tape to cover the button holes. Wanted a cleaner look even if its the bottom. I removed and dremeled all controller buttons to ⅛" thickness. I didn't want messy glue running off, so I electrical taped the buttons from the inside. All buttons are flush, becoming the new bottom and sits flat on the table. Another simple fix would be a piece of sheet metal or plastic, but I like the novelty of the now non-functioning carnival color buttons.

Destroy the Robot
Photos of the Mod at the bottom.
Moment of truth, drilling a small hole at the back of ROB for the controller cable. The big commitment, cutting the cords inside from the PCB. I left a little hanging if I ever did want to reverse the Mod. To verify the connections, a simple test of two wires at a time to the battery box.

Easy ones
Battery - Red and Black
Spin - Yellow and White

Separate plug
Claws - Red and Brown
Up/Down - Orange and Yellow

Tempted to power the LED, but would only work in one polarity, half the movements. Oh well, save on the battery a little.

I ran simple jumpers right at the toggle switches to reverse the polarity. An easy way to reduce the amount of wires. Staged all the wires into the switch terminals before taking out the pencil soldering Iron. A magnifying station helps to prevent shorts in those tiny terminals.

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Precut shrink tube and placed on wire before soldering up the splices. A zip tie at the insulation prevents the controller cable from being yanked out.

After the photos were done, I did one more minor mod. I spun the one toggle switch ninety degrees to match the spin direction of ROB.

New Gameplay
First, ROB is now independently controlled. Now can be used as a wired remote control robot toy. Robot works flawlessly, instant response to the toggles. But now a new take on the Gyromite game. Okay how many have cheated at Gyromite? Ignoring the robot and just grabbing the second controller to drop the pillars. This mod gets ROB another chance, depending how well a HUMAN second player can make the little robot drop the Gyro on the game controller rail. Or ever better, try to do this solo for a frenzied play. Don't let that Gyro top fall!

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I have an extra set of rails to hold a NES second controller. Two controllers with matching holders all operated by the game indirectly through the robot. Not sure of any games that use the A and B buttons only. Imagine trying to balance the pie plates working both mounted controllers with this modded ROB. :lol:

Now to see if the Armatron dexterity will beat R.O.B.'s speed. :mrgreen:

A quick note about the Radioshack Armatron. An 80s engineering genius design! Only one motor controlling a bunch of ring gears inside. The levers would engage various gears to cause a different function. Spin the Arm and Claw, Raise and Lower, as well as Multiple Pivot Points. 12 selections in all!

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Related links

Gyromite NES Import Adaptor Guide

How I found my R.O.B.

Repairing R.O.B. (NES)

A great Armatron site
Attachments
NES ROB Mod 04.jpg
ROB MANUAL CONTROL. ZIPPER ORIGINAL CONTROLLER BUTTONS DISABLED BUT STILL LOOK GOOD.
NES ROB Mod 04.jpg (253.48 KiB) Viewed 17824 times
NES ROB Mod 03.jpg
CLOSE UP OF WIRES. 2 POLE 3 POSITION ON-OFF-ON SWITCH. MOMENTARY ON. SMALL JUMPER WIRES TO CHANGE THE POLARITY FOR REVERSE DIRECTION. PCB IS BYPASSED.
NES ROB Mod 03.jpg (227.46 KiB) Viewed 17817 times
NES ROB Mod 05.jpg
BATTLE OF THE ROBOTS.
NES ROB Mod 05.jpg (231.29 KiB) Viewed 17806 times
Last edited by CRTGAMER on Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:12 am, edited 21 times in total.
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Re: NES R.O.B Interactive Mod Guide

by CRTGAMER Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:13 am

Another pic, I really made the old buttons flush. Note the pre-cut cable on the PCB. The reason why this beyond repair controller is used.
NES ROB Mod 01.jpg
NES ROB Mod 01.jpg (138.64 KiB) Viewed 17730 times


A slight gear slippage problem. Fixed in the next reply.
Attachments
NES ROB Mod 09.jpg
GEAR SLIPS AT THE BLACK SPRING CLIP
NES ROB Mod 09.jpg (89.91 KiB) Viewed 17388 times
Last edited by CRTGAMER on Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:52 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: NES R.O.B Interactive Mod Guide

by pjvdg Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:28 am

Ok besides the fact that you MODDED A ROB! this is pretty cool.
I'd like to see a video playing gyromite with a second player controlling rob like you said :wink:
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Re: NES R.O.B Interactive Mod Guide

by CRTGAMER Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:52 pm

pjvdg wrote:Ok besides the fact that you MODDED A ROB! this is pretty cool.
I'd like to see a video playing gyromite with a second player controlling rob like you said :wink:
Finally revisited ROB. Too many other gaming distractions.

Manual Control Gameplay
With practice, manual control is a direct quicker way. The trade off is getting the hang of a quick and precise control of the robot. Out of the NES box, ROB normally reads the screen flashes and has preprogrammed stops. Playing the manual way, often over shoots the position of the arms, not lining up exactly on that fast spinning gyro. Part of the fun having the manual control. :D Definitely have to go carefully to avoid damaging anything. Meanwhile that top is losing its spin. :lol:

Oh crap, wrong button for the blue pillar!
As single player manual control mode a real trick dropping the gyro precisely, moving the on screen character with the NES controller, then switching back to the toggle controller to retrieve the gyro before it falls. :shock: Part of enjoying the game although sometimes a cheating temptation to just grab the rail mounted NES controller from R.O.B. I have two NES controller rails mounted with ROB pictured below. Interesting if there are any two player games that only utilize the buttons. A piggybacked control thru ROB.

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A Common Needed Repair
This robot would sometimes fail at picking the Gyro quickly, because of internal gear slippage. It seems to be a common problem. The spring clip "clutch" wears out over the years, gets to the point that it freewheels. Turns out an intended design, so if one pushes down the arm assembly by hand or if there is binding, the plastic gears won't break. Ideally its better to get a new assembly, but that would be hard to find. A simple fix, I used Liquid Nails applied with a tooth pick. Epoxy would have been too runny, hard to keep off the gear teeth. You can see the beige glue on the gear to the right.

I won't be able to push down the arm assembly by hand with this gear lockup. But no more slippage! If by chance the glue fails, then I will steel pin them. Slapping in some bearing grease to the works and buttoned up the arm casing. R.O.B. works beautiful now! :mrgreen:

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A relatively easy repair, be sure to do this with ROB upside down. Go slow on disassembly/reassembly, some gears have drift pins that can drop out and get lost. Note the color of the gear location in the attached pics.

A special thanks to MAARTEN JALINK, who posted this fix here:
R.O.B. Arm Gear Repair
Attachments
NES ROB Mod 08.jpg
GEARS EVERYWHERE ROB ARM LENDS A HELPING HAND.
NES ROB Mod 08.jpg (224.59 KiB) Viewed 17288 times
NES ROB Mod 10.jpg
BEIGE GLUE KEEPS BOTH GEARS LOCKED TOGETHER. GREASED UP READY TO BE BUTTONED UP.
NES ROB Mod 10.jpg (148.77 KiB) Viewed 17268 times
NES ROB Mod 11.jpg
RUNNING BEAUTIFUL! NOTE THE TWO NES CONTROLLER RAILS.
NES ROB Mod 11.jpg (240.61 KiB) Viewed 17267 times
Last edited by CRTGAMER on Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NES R.O.B Interactive Mod Guide with Updated Repair Info

by CRTGAMER Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:34 pm

If ROB does not spin

The lower assembly is used for spinning ROB. If the robot does not spin around, the gear assembly might also need the same glue fix. Be absolutely sure if you do the glue method. See if the slip is really bad or if something else inside might be causing the binding. Take out the entire gear assembly, see if ROB can be twisted by hand. While the gear assembly is out you can see how the spring clip acts as a clutch, it should not be loose. The easy fix is a liquid nails with a toothpick.

Upper arm assembly glue example, note the upper gears has two "clutch" locations.

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The lower assembly also has a spring clip clutches that can fail.

ReddMcKnight wrote: viewtopic.php?f=17&p=547200#p547200

I just got a R.O.B. Robot for my NES. The problem? He won't turn left or right. He moves up and down okay, but he just will not turn left or right.

After performing the Glue Trick, I got it working perfectly! You can see what appears to be a circular black ribbon between the metal wheel and gear. That's where I applied the glue. I used super glue, and I applied it directly out of the small tube it came in. As for precautions, just be careful to make sure you don't glue your fingers together.

ROB Lower Gear Assembly.jpg
ROB Lower Gear Assembly.jpg (169.44 KiB) Viewed 14180 times
Last edited by CRTGAMER on Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NES R.O.B Interactive Mod Guide with Updated Repair Info

by cubeboy Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:29 pm

I just purchased a Rob that won't go up or down. I opened mine up and the three pieces circled are not attached to each other. So I was going to glue all the pieces in the circle together, but do you glue any of these pieces to the metal axle itself? Or are they just free to slide back and forth?

Thanks.
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Re: NES R.O.B Interactive Mod Guide with Updated Repair Info

by CRTGAMER Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:40 am

cubeboy wrote:I just purchased a Rob that won't go up or down. I opened mine up and the three pieces circled are not attached to each other. So I was going to glue all the pieces in the circle together, but do you glue any of these pieces to the metal axle itself? Or are they just free to slide back and forth?

Thanks.

They should not slide down the metal axle, you might have put a little glue there if yours does that. hopefully the gear teeth are intact, maybe the pieces popped from the arm assembly being pushed by hand. I glued the metal drum with spring clip to the plastic gear in the circle. Use a toothpick to apply the glue and to avoid getting any on the gear teeth. I used Liquid nails which has the consistency of putty and does not drip.

The end result is all the pieces and axle do not move separate of each other.
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Re: NES R.O.B Interactive Mod Guide with Updated Repair Info

by cubeboy Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:12 am

CRTGAMER wrote:
cubeboy wrote:I just purchased a Rob that won't go up or down. I opened mine up and the three pieces circled are not attached to each other. So I was going to glue all the pieces in the circle together, but do you glue any of these pieces to the metal axle itself? Or are they just free to slide back and forth?

Thanks.

They should not slide down the metal axle, you might have put a little glue there if yours does that. hopefully the gear teeth are intact, maybe the pieces popped from the arm assembly being pushed by hand. I glued the metal drum with spring clip to the plastic gear in the circle. Use a toothpick to apply the glue and to avoid getting any on the gear teeth. I used Liquid nails which has the consistency of putty and does not drip.

The end result is all the pieces and axle do not move separate of each other.

OK. Thanks for the tip, as that was the part I was not completely sure about. Everything was loose on that side of the axle, and none of the gears were attached. So I glued everything to each other and the axle, and it still won't move up or down when I send him a command. I hear some kind of noise, almost like a faint click when I tell him to move up or down, and the red light goes off like he receives the command, but he doesn't move. I'll have to take another look later this week to see what I'm doing wrong.
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Re: NES R.O.B Interactive Mod Guide with Updated Repair Info

by CRTGAMER Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:37 pm

cubeboy wrote:
CRTGAMER wrote:The end result is all the pieces and axle do not move separate of each other.
OK. Thanks for the tip, as that was the part I was not completely sure about. Everything was loose on that side of the axle, and none of the gears were attached. So I glued everything to each other and the axle, and it still won't move up or down when I send him a command. I hear some kind of noise, almost like a faint click when I tell him to move up or down, and the red light goes off like he receives the command, but he doesn't move. I'll have to take another look later this week to see what I'm doing wrong.

Please post a pic with all the gears in place
That was quick, was the glue fully dried? I let mine sit over night before reassembly. The metal axle especially does not have much surface for the glue to take a bite. If it is still slipping there, you could rough up the metal a little with a small jewelers file. It is weird that the entire gear assembly slides down the axle shaft, could be an alignment between gear teeth issue.

With the gears removed. does the arm assembly go up and down without binding? How do all the teeth on the gears look, any chipped off?

You can also test by running a jumper wire from the battery compartment to the individual motors. Reverse the wire polarity to go the opposite direction. Be sure to use the resistor side to keep the slightly reduced voltage to the motor and don't the arms bottom out at either stop.
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