Booli: The Adorable Plush Robot and Flashlight












Like any kid, I was terrified of the dark.  Any reason for me to leave my room or even my bed in the middle of the night was a cause for much consternation whether it was a trip to the bathroom or running to my parents’ room after nightmare.  Of course we had flashlights around, but they were usually misplaced and even still the thought of a trip from my bed to my desk to retrieve one was terrifying. The flashlight needed to be where I was—in bed.

Additionally, I was big on reading in bed.  I would stay up well after midnight reading all sorts of science fiction and fantasy until either I couldn’t keep my eyes open or my parents caught me.  I would use all sorts of things to see the pages in the dark.  Book lights and some toys like a light up bracelet I had worked, but they were designed to be small and compact and thus were easily lost by a child.  Some bigger toys with lights were harder to misplace, but didn’t produce the light necessary and weren’t very comfortable to have in bed with me anyway.

These two needs are why I created Booli.  His shape is meant to be reminiscent of EVE, the futuristic, but friendly flying robot from the movie Wall-E.  Booli is short for boolean which is a binary variable used in computing.  Booli is comfortable to hang out with in bed, and big enough that he won’t be easily lost in a messy room.  His eye lights up with a cool pattern that illuminates the pages of your favorite book or lights the way as you navigate the dark hallway.















Circuit diagram


Week 3 Arduino Exercises

These exercises were a little harder to wrap my head around than last week because I don’t quite understand how the pull-up resistor works.  In the exercise it says that the digitalRead pin has a direct connection to ground when the button is pressed, so it ignores the small amount of electricity coming from through the resistor.  This seems like a strange way to explain it however because electricity doesn’t run from ground to ground so it’s not really directly sensing that the other ground is activated.  The way I understand it is that the small amount of electricity from the resistor is only going into the digitalRead pin which is just enough to return a HIGH reading.  But when the button is pressed, the current is split between to the two grounds, so the digitalRead pin only feels half the original current which puts it within the threshold to return a LOW reading.  I really do want to make sure I understand this so I’ll be sure to ask about it in class.

For the final exercise I did the two momentary switches controlling one LED.  I managed to set it up so that both buttons were using the pull-up resistors integrated into the Arduino pins.

// constants won't change. They're used here to set pin numbers:
const int buttonPin2 = 2; // the number of the pushbutton pin
const int buttonPin3 = 3;
const int ledPin = 13; // the number of the LED pin

// variables will change:
int buttonState2 = 0; // variables for reading the pushbutton status
int buttonState3 = 0;

void setup() {
// initialize the LED pin as an output:
pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);
// initialize the pushbutton pin as an input:
pinMode(buttonPin2, INPUT_PULLUP);
pinMode(buttonPin3, INPUT_PULLUP);

void loop() {
// read the state of the pushbutton values:
buttonState2 = digitalRead(buttonPin2);
buttonState3 = digitalRead(buttonPin3);

// check if the pushbutton 2 is pressed. If it is, the buttonState is LOW:
if (buttonState2 == LOW) {
// turn LED on:
digitalWrite(ledPin, HIGH);

// check if the pushbutton 3 is pressed. If it is, the buttonState is LOW:
if (buttonState3 == LOW) {
// turn LED off:
digitalWrite(ledPin, LOW);

Robo Battle Dragon Teardown




This is a teardown of the Sharper Image Electronic Action Robo Battle Dragon. It drew my eye because it’s super rad but also has a nice cute factor. I also thought that it had much more cool features like sounds and the ability to battle other robots, but the only electronic things it does is walk and have a red light on its chest. Other than that it has a spring loaded mouth to hold things, segmented tail that swings while it walks and a head that turns slightly from side to side


Step 1

Make sure our small friend is turned off. Remove screw then, battery cover and batteries from underside.

Step 2

Remove two screws from cover on bottom of head, that will allow the jaw and spring to come off as well as the top of the head to pop off. Two screws on the underside of the top piece hold on the piece with the rubber teeth.

Step 3

Find the two white plugs on the side and pop them out. Remove these two screws and pop the white cover off over the wings.  You can also yank the arms out with a little bit of effort.

Step 4

Remove the three screws from the tail.  This should allow the tip and smallest segment to come out.

Step 5

Pop the plug out on the side of the tail and remove that screw. Then remove any other screws from the side of the body.  This will allow the other sections of the tail to come out.  It will also release the neck portion and allow the body to split in half.


Step 6

Notice in the center of the body where the leg is mounted.  It has a boss that fits to the side of the motor.  The motor provides a spinning motion to both legs and creates the walking action. We can remove the one screw within the boss and the leg will come out. Removing the rest of the screws on the leg allows it to split apart.


Motor GIF

Step 7

Remove the two screws at the base of the fin.  Grab a pair of pliers and the pin that is part of the walking mechanism will come out easily.

Step 8

Pull the electronic assembly out, we’ll analyze this later.  This side of the body will come apart the same as the other.  Note the two extra longer pins that hold the motor in place and be sure to pull those out too.

Step 9

Examine the electronic assembly.  This is where the grand disappointment is—no sound chips, no speakers, no sensors to allow it to actually fight other robots, just two AAAs, an LED wired in parallel with a motor, and a slide switch to control on/off.



I had high hopes for the Robo Battle Dragon, but it turned out to be much simpler than I thought. but two things I found interesting were:

  1. The tail.  The method they used to segment the tail was pretty cool.  I’ve never seen injection molded pieces used with a pin like that before to create a series of hinges.
  2. The white side panels.  These were fairly cleverly constructed to hide a majority of the screw holes on the body.  I was surprised that the two plugs covering the screws were only held in via a pressure fit and no adhesive was used.  It’s interesting that they also used a series of clips along where the spine would be.


Hi! I’m Wes


Hey! My name is Weston Rivell. I’ve been living in Philadelphia the past four years while completing my undergrad in industrial design. Before that, I lived in New Jersey my whole life. Over the past couple years I’ve had the opportunity to work as a freelancer on retail installations and also as the ID guy at a small Pennsylvania-based design consultancy. If you’d like to see some of my work you can check out my website. Or find me on insta at @westonrivell.