Talkie Toaster you will be upgraded

ultrasonic sensor in talkie toaster
Talkie toaster eyes

I thought before my trip that I would like to change the sensor that activates Talkie Toaster from an LDR (light Dependant Resistor) to a SRF05 ultrasonic sensor. In about 2 days I managed to change it over and write the software.
The SRF05 is an ultrasonic detector (as used in my Mini-me Dalek) that can send pulses and then knows distances to an object.
I love the SRF05 it is so easy to work with. Basically you send a pulse and then measure the length of the pulse you get back, divide the answer and you can get your results in metric or imperial based on what you divide by.

I had the most trouble placing it so it was invisible to people looking at Talkie while still peeping out enough that it would catch people in range.

Short videos of Talkie toaster in action

These are some short segments of  video from after it was completed. As the toaster does not move, a video of the toaster in action makes no sense. So I need to interact with it a little.
I have pretty much been banned by my wife Vickie from turning this thing on, as it is very annoying.

He can interact for quite a while but true to form it gets really annoying

Talkie Toaster pictures

The final talkie toaster on display

Talkie Toaster
A tea cake?

A view of the Vox kit with modification to interface with the microcontroller instead of a relay that came with the kit.

Vox to recognize there is a reply
Talkie toaster ears

A wooden frame holds everything.
Speaker on top.
Amplifier bottom right.
Sound to light above amplifier.
ISD board immediately to left of sound board.
The two vertical boards under speaker are microcontroller boards (one for controlling ISD2560 sound, the other to interface everything else together).
End view above is looking from the left.
Lots of wiring. Hint: Clearly marking the wiring makes life easier later.

Wiring of talkie toaster
Rats nest of wires but they are all marked

Talkie electronics

Sound PCB (Playback)
The 60 second ISD2560 voice recorder has a better sampling rate, so I wired 2 together in a direct addressed tandem mode. Basically one plays through the other to give 2 minutes of sound.
I recorded all the dialogue myself, modified in Audacity based on things Talkie might say in the show. Though there are actually only two minutes of recorded speech, the total time for it to run through all its speech is around 10 to 15 minutes, including pauses.

Lights
A digital vu meter flashes lights based on how loud the sound level is and I arranged the LEDs to be not in straight lines like a normal VU meter but rather a circular pattern.

Sensors
To allow Talkie to hear someone I modified a VOX switch (voice operated switch) kit to output a logic level when sound was detected.

Vox to recognize there is a reply
Talkie toaster ears

Everything is turned on by the shadow cast on a light dependant resistor (LDR).
The toaster itself had built in LEDs for frozen bread or bagel selection so I used these to give visual feedback of the current mode; the LED’s lit when it was waiting for a reply.
I wanted the toaster to cry “Help! Help! Toastercide!” if the it was moved so I added a push button switch to the base of the toaster which activated when the toaster was lifted.

Brains
I purchased some Picaxe 28x micro controllers. These are similar to a Basic Stamp but have the advantage of being cheaper and very easy to use. I created a small development PCB for the Picaxe and programmed them (I actually ended up using 2 Picaxe 28x because I ran out of ports).

Improvements
Once installed I was never happy with the light dependent resistor (LDR). Levels of light had to be just right. So recently I changed this and added a SRF05 ultrasonic detector. The hardest part of the conversion to ultrasonics was finding somewhere that is a good lookout point that is not really noticeable. It was the longest part of the conversion and, after trying 3 or 4 places, I finally settled on a location. It actually works very well.

Talkie Toaster

Would you like a piece of toast?

Talkie Toaster
A tea cake?

Talkie Toaster first appeared in Series 1 of Red Dwarf, and then again in Series 4. In both appearances it looked and sounded completely different.
In Series 1 it was in the form of an old style toaster, chrome with rounded edges. In Series 4 it was boxy and red, and had more dialogue. Mine was to be a mixture of the two with the look and voice of Series 1, and the attitude of Series 4.
When I dreamed up the idea to build a Talkie Toaster my plan was to find a toaster that looked like the one from the TV show, remove all the insides, and fill it with some electronics to make it talk. I wanted to build something for fun and have no moving parts to get bogged down with.

What makes Talkie Toaster a recognizable character?

  • The look of Talkie Toaster from Series 1
  • Characteristic sound and attitude
  • Front light that lights up in time with speech interactive speech and motion detection

Total cost would have been about $200-$250 except I reused some parts I had purchased previously.