Vtech Apple Part 3 – Voltage Starve

Circuit BendingAs I’ve been exploring and circuit bending my Vtech Apple toy I have unfortunately found a limited number of reliable glitches on the main board. Through my testing I have been able to cause the toy to output a slew of strange noises but have not found a bend so far which would do so reliably enough to warrant adding a switch or push button. Hope is not lost though, this just means we’ll have to be a little more creative and find other ways to turn this toy into the monstrosity it deserves to be. Today we will be adding a voltage starve to our apple which is another fairly simple mod which will limit the amount of power which enters the circuit with exciting results.

Vtech Apple Part 1 – Kill Switch And Line Out

Vtech Apple Part 2 – Exploration And Pitch Adjustment

Vtech Apple Part 4 – Body Contacts

Vtech Apple Part 5 – 555 Trigger Oscillator

Have you ever picked up a toy that’s been sitting around for a while, In a closet or at a thrift store and upon turning it on been greeted by demonic chanting or erratic glitches. This is because the batteries have become drained. As a typical battery gets low on power the voltage it outputs gets lower and lower until eventually it is to low to operate the device. With many devices though there is a sweet spot just before the voltage is too low to operate where the device will still run but isn’t able to do so normally, whether it slows the clock speed to almost nothing or just begins misfiring and glitching is dependent on the device and where in this sweet spot you are but the results can be extremely enjoyable. Through circuit bending we should be able to recreate this effect quite easily.

Warning – Though I have had good results with this bend on other toys I have found it to be quite unstable on the Vtech Alphabet Apple specifically. It does not seem to threaten the well being of the toy in any way (I’ve been using mine for quite a while and it still works great) but it can take a lot of finesse to get good glitches and may cause the device to crash. That being said once you’ve played with it for a while and gotten a good feeling of how far you can push it you can produce some fantastic effects through this mod, I definitely recommend giving it a try but don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to get a handle on it.

Circuit Bending Voltage Starve To recreate this effect we will add a switch and a potentiometer along the power wire between the battery and the main board. The switch will allow us to either send the power directly to the board (operates as normal) or through the potentiometer. The potentiometer will then add resistance into the power circuit which in turn lowers the amount of current which reaches the board. Typically a low value potentiometer is best for this but experiment with different values to find what works best. Sometimes having two pots in line is also useful, One high value pot for course adjustments and one small value one for fine tuning. Play around and find what works best for you.

Circuit BendingHere is a picture of the pot and switch once they have been wired into the circuit and mounted on the toy. Note in this photo the two red wires marked with the green arrow lead to the positive power connection on the main board and the single wire with the black arrow leads back to my kill switch and eventually to the battery. Now you should be able to close the toy back out and start playing with it.

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