Robo 6000, Capsella Memoirs

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

I remember the days of innocence and having times to play Zelda, Mario Kart, Final Fantasy, and other intrinsic games. I remember having time to read 10,000 minutes in the matter of two or three weeks. I remember itching to play with the only remote control car I ever got over my brief childhood, having secret pacts against girls, believing in the traditional form of Santa Claus, playing Legos & Stuffed Animals, playing “War of the Worlds” (wow– that was a game Aaron and I played on the trampoline for years. We were imaginative kids, we were), and having the thing I worried about most being what form of childlike entertainment I would be seeking next.

One certain brand of pleasure from my younger years (particularly ages 6-10) was a certain toy called “Capsella.” These were essentially plastic orbs that could be dissembled as small as half of an orb and also assembled as large as… well, as large as one could afford to purchase them. Some orbs had different kinds of gears inside or even an engine, and there were other parts such as wheels, propellers, tracts, and others. You could have the engine and gears move the wheels to make the robotic structure skitter across the floor, navigate the depths of the tub (when equipped with special yellow floater orbs), and many other things– I never got any of the other more advanced sets, though I often dreamed of getting them and creating the ultimate “robot.”

Though far from being any sort of true robot, I received my first Capsella set, built the orbs into the rough likeness of a humanoid figure, and called him “Robo.” I even wrote miniature picture books about him. Aaron eventually got a Capsella set or two, and we often would pull out our robots to play (his was called Johnny-8 or something, I believe). Later– for my 8th Christmas here on Earth– I received a very special set of Capsella I had been itching for over all other sets. It was called the “Voice Command 6000.” I named him “Robo 6000,” the second or third-generation version of Robo (I believe I had dissembled and rebuilt the original Robo at least once or twice before getting this new set).

Robo 6000 became a good friend, and often appeared in many make-believe settings– whether it was offering help through his vast knowledge (communicated through beeps at various frequencies, all of which secretly came from my vibrating lips) or through his lasers (I took the old engine from the original Robo and stuck it on the front of Robo 6000– it had red and blue connections for the wires from the battery. If Robo 6000 was happy, he had the blue side showing, but if he was angry, the red side would show– along with many imaginary lasers that would burst out of it to strike the poor, unknowing, imaginary enemies that plagued our Neverland).

The Voice Command 6000 set was easier to put together than most other sets, I’m sure, and was the least adaptable, as too many orbs added onto the set would offset and overload the motor, but Robo 6000 brought me much fame. I remember bringing him to a Cub Scout Talent Show and saying “I built this robot…” and “You can tell it what to do through the remote control with your voice…” all in the same breath. I really merely assembled the so-said “robot,” as its motherboard and engine were already installed in separate chassis and were much too advanced for my IQ to even think about dissembling them at that time, but I took advantage of the situation to look more intelligent than I was. The robot consisted of really three pieces: The upper chassis, which contained the infrared sensor and motherboard and plugged with four prongs into the lower chassis, which contained the motor and wheels. The third piece was merely four plastic orbs you could add on for decoration– two of them had propellers that would turn so as to look more foreboding (these also caused Robo 6000 to fly while in Neverland).

Such a simple little toy, yet he brought about much imaginative playtime.

I wonder what operating system this little “robot” had? Doubtless one I could develop easily with a thin instruction manual, all of the appropriate capacitors, chips, circuits, transistors, and other parts necessary, and a breadboard. I wonder if I could adapt this operating system and tweak it to my own wants? I’d have to do some soldering, of course– the most advanced technology on Robo is his IR sensor and a 20-pronged integrated circuit– quite a simple board, and no memory for firmware upgrades. Of course, I’m sure that half of that operating system is located in the remote control. I should research on Google.

Robo 6000 (Capsella's "Voice Command 6000")

Robo's remote control