Day 3- hacking Chatter2...frustrations

So im starting to find the warts of this device.

  • the usb connection is flakey. it connects, then disconnect
  • because of above, its hard to be productive workflow. too much time spent powering device on/off, reinserting cable, checking if /dev/tty.usb* is being used on ti, even rebooting entire computer

I think the main cuprit here is this thing drains the 3 AA batteries very quickly. So it can not maintain the minimal power it needs to maintain the USB connection

This means it requires batteries to run even when connected to usb. That is a design flaw in my view.

The product should run off usb so one can develop and deploy without worry of battery drain or life.

If i cant get even 1 hour of programming dev off 3 AAA, then the happy wow factors goes away very quickly.

Sorry. very frustrated at such an obvious need a user/dev would have - to run off regular usb without batteries and to dev while connected to computer with usb without batteries

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Hey @cluckceo,

I appreciate you taking the time to share your experience and concerns regarding the USB connection and battery life of the device. Your feedback is valuable and helps us understand areas where we can improve.

I understand the frustration that comes with the connectivity issues and the requirement of batteries even when connected to USB.

Unfortunately yes, Chatter will use the energy from the batteries while being connected to the PC as it does not have a rechargeable battery you can charge while it’s connected to the PC.

If the device is connecting and disconnecting all the time, you can try coding with anothe USB cable and see if there’s any difference.

Thank you once again for your honest feedback. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for any further assistance or to share more of your thoughts.


Its not that it needs a usb battery charger in its circuits, it just needs to be able to power the device off usb…which is entirely necessary and possible.

I think CircuitMess should advertise this fact on the product at the sales point. A big disclaimer saying this product requires AAA to run and develop with. And specifically does not run off usb.

One has to make an additional investment in recharble AAA, but that is something a parent should know up front to avoid all the ‘can we get more batteries’ after the first hour with it. Its a disappointing experience for the child which they associate with the ‘toy’ and then the brand CircuitMess.

Instead CircuitMess should aim for the Lego experience. It works out of the box, and keeps working out of the box (aka the usb to charge the device while deving or just while plugged in)

I will still hack on this thing. But i cant in good faith recommend it to others , esp parents, with design flaw.

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Hey @cluckceo,

Thank you for your reply.

We understand the importance of a seamless and user-friendly experience. The frustration of having to consistently replace batteries and the associated interruptions to the workflow are valid concerns.

We’re genuinely sorry for any disappointment caused and appreciate your honesty, which helps us to understand where we can make improvements. Our aim is to create a product that not only educates but also excites and inspires without causing frustration.

Thank you once again for sharing your insights and for your commitment to hacking and exploring our products despite the challenges faced.


Hi there is a pretty simple hack to make it work off of usb power. on the back there is a testpoint 11 solder a wire to it and to the off terminal the top one on the switch. I used a red wire to make it blend in with the board which unfortunately makes it harder to see in the photo.

switching between battery and usb will cause it to reboot but otherwise works great.

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Hey @mog ,

that’s great! Well done for finding a way to make it work :slight_smile:


Hi @mog thank you for sharing. I was able to get mine done with some magnet wire and it is working great. I may redo it later with a shielded wire to avoid a short.

Came through the same “battery frustration” as others, so yes, this tip is great.

Another tip from me (however not so cheap): buy 1.5 V Li-ion batteries.
Some advantages:

  1. Constant 1.5 until they are “empty”, so enough voltage, not like NiMH AAAs. Super for a performance, but one drawback - battery indicator is almost useless. Get spare box with you.
  2. Super fast charging (well it’s Li-ion so charging using more voltage and current)
  3. No crazy waste like regular dry AAAs (poor planet…)

I have mine from XTAR with special charger, but there are plenty online…

Again, not a cheap deal, but what is important: No more “battery frustration” for me! :slight_smile:

To get even more power on the way, the tinkering was necesarry, stay with me :slight_smile:

  1. on one chatter I replaced 3AAA holder with 4AAA holder. You surely got the point why 4 is better than 3 :slight_smile: But it was not “ergonomic”.
  2. So on the next one I replaced 3AAA holder with 2AA holder. Why? This is little tricky, but you can use 1.5V Li-ion AA plus 3.7V 14500 Li-ion AA. So in the pack of 2 AA you have 5.2V and plenty of mAh. The holder is a little thicker, but no problem.

The kids like to type, so the fun can begin now!