Scotty Hoag
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BMO Buddy

    Through working on the Adventure Time video game, I've become a big fan of the show itself. In particular, the character BMO - the adorable, sentient game console - is really hard not to love. The series's creator has even gone on record stating that she is his favorite character. If you need convincing that BMO is awesome, check out this or this.

I had been wanting to get back into some hobby electronics and robotics work, so I thought it would be really fun to try and make a real life BMO that can talk, play games, and look super cute sitting on my desk at work.

I may look into setting up a blog or something specifically for the BMO Buddy project, but for now I'll begin retro-actively documenting the process here on my website.


Pre-July 7th, 2013 - "I am a little living boy!"

The BMO project is now officially live! I wanted to hold back from talking about it until after it was further along than just loose ideas and breadboards full of wires. While the project is far from finished, it is starting to come together very well and I feel comfortable talking about the rest of the work to be done.


The project consists of several parts:

  • Custom circuit to control and power various components like screens, speech modules, and motors.
  • Custom case and game controllers.
  • Interchangeable software so BMO can have actual game "cartridges".

The circuitry involved seemed more than applicable to a decently powerful microcontroller and nothing on the concept side initially seemed to tricky of a technical problem to design around. Even game carts seemed like a possibility using SD cards. I've written software interpreters and simple computer languages in the past, so being able to load and run custom games also seemed like a possibility. And, while I'm a pretty lousy artist, BMO is essentially a box with some holes in it so I thought I might be able to pull off making something recognizably close to her visual appearance as well.

At present, BMO's brain is an Arduino Mega microcontroller. With it, she can talk through an Emic2 speech synthesis chip, animate her eyes and mouth on a 2.8-inch touchscreen, and register touch input on her screen/face (Currently used to tell BMO to speak). Her case was designed in a 3D modeling program and printed out on my desktop 3D printer in ABS plastic. She can read input from custom joysticks, but there are currently no games to play on her yet so they havn't been built any further than the circuit prototype stage just yet. She can, however, run off of battery power now, so I can take her places...

...For example, If you were at Anime Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center today, you might have seen BMO making the rounds through the convention halls, screen lit with a smile for every picture taken. I will add a new entry soon with some picks of BMO from the show floor, as well as more info on the circuits and other components.

July 7th, 2013 - "BMO get camera? BMO IS camera!"

BMO calls next game
                                on Gradius.I took BMO with me to Anime Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center today. My original plan was to make some sort of shoulder harness so that BMO could sit on my shoulder like a pirate's parrot, but I didn't have enough time to figure out how to make one sturdy eoungh, so I just carried her around instead.

The most common reactions I got from the show floor were people asking where they could buy one for themselves, how much I wanted to sell mine for, when I would be making more to sell, and "OHMIGAWDBEEMO!!", all of which I regard as being pretty positive. Sorry, he's not for sale!

Lots of people also asked to take pictures or inquired as to how I made her, and everyone was excited to hear her talk even though it was really loud in the convention hall. Even with just the limited functionality of being a homemade electronic thing that looks cute and speaks, she managed to turn lots of heads and generate a lot of attention.

In order to make BMO presentable away from my workbench, I had to really put in an effort to finish the first version of the case. There were some issues - most of them stemming from working in a 3D modeling program designed to be used for loose sculpting rather than high-precision CAD work - but I've made a version that I could print out on my desktop 3D printer and is capable of holding most of currently working elements. I wound up doing several revisions, eventually settling on a three-piece shell that snaps together.

I'm still refining a lot of things, and there still many more features yet to add. However, I did manage to make enough room for batteries and an on/off switch so I could take BMO around with me to Anime Expo today. I've added a few pics below of BMO seeing the sites, although it seems like her favorite section was the arcade area (Of course!). I'll try and write another update soon with more detailed information on the components.

lion    japanese gardens    spooky    bmo's arcade