Toy Hacks - May 2022 Edition

Play with toys, take them apart, and have fun soldering, plus you’ll be helping kids play too!

To be completed by: June 2nd, but sign up now as they go fast!
To Sign Up: Respond to this thread with the type and number of toys you commit to hacking.

Why Hack Toys?
Adapted toys for kids with disabilities are often very expensive. That’s why Makers Making Change has given VHS the opportunity to adapt some toys. Half of this batch came from [BC Centre for Childhood Development] (https://the-centre.org/) and were brought in by families, and half are some new, cheap toys Chad found so looking for someone to learn as they go, but hoping to make a “how to” guide. And one is from a box of the Amazon stuff that came in, that looks really easy, so hoping someone can take photos and I can do that with a school build coming up.

What’s involved?
Just a few hours of your time, whenever you want, at vhs or at home.You’ll:

  • pick up toys and parts at VHS
  • follow instructions for hacking
  • take toys apart and put them back together
  • do some light soldering and wiring
  • place jacks for adapted switches that can be easily activated by kids (make sure to take with you Jacks / female 3.5 mm cables)
  • work at home or at vhs (note: vhs tools stay at vhs)
  • return completed toys to the VHS Furnace Room

But what if I can’t solder?
Don’t worry, we can get you started. Just respond to this thread if you’re interested. As things are opening up, I might organize a couple toy-hack nights coming up.

And now, the toys, 10 in total!

Fisher Price Dog - Learn and Play * 1


This one has an “unofficial guide” that was made very last minute before an event, so would be helpful if the Maker on this one can validate if these steps are good / take better pictures. This is a fairly long-standing available toy that can be bought for $20ish bucks so will make great addition to the site.

Random Singing Penguin * 2


Easier than above, it only has two inputs to be adapted (bottom paws). No guide, so while putting in a parallel input so both the paw and switch input work, it may be easier to interrupt the line. I look to you for guidance, and again, ideally pictures. There is our general resource on how to switch adapt toys that provides a good foundation. Both brought in by a family for their kiddo.

Random Hamster * 1


I’ll be darned if this ain’t the cutest little toy. This came from a family that saw that we were doing and brought in a couple of toys. Again just two paws, and there is no specific guide, so just looking to “get it done” on this one. Again, our general how to switch adapt toys will help.

Random Pink Bear * 1


This toy also came from a family that saw that we were doing. This is a four paw + a collar one. Have not opened up, but might be very similiar to the Fisher Price Puppy above. Again as a one off, just looking to “get it done” on this one. Again, our general how to switch adapt toys will help.

Little lamp * 1 (but up to 18 available)


In the recent Amazon donation that came in, we received 18 of these. Should be a very simple one to add a jack in. My ask for this is more “take pictures and jot down steps” as either @xquared or myself will do the rest with some kids in the coming couple months. If you are a beginner, this is a good one to learn on.

Walmart Microphones * 4


These are “bonus” – I saw them at Walmart for $5 so nabbed them. Looks like up to 8 spots that can be adapted for switch input, which is very likely overkill, so curious to what is “easily hackable”. Might be a couple different iterations – a 2 switch one for “record” and “play”; or one that triggers a couple different of the music ones. I would cap any adaptation at 4. Take pictures if you can on this one, but it may be a bit much, this one falls more in the “I don’t know what I don’t know” but a toy for $5, even with just one switch input, is a win.

3 Likes

I’ll take on the Random Hamster * 1 (omg so cute!!!) and Walmart Microphones * 4. I’ll be down tonight for Jarrett’s workshop and pick them up then.

3 Likes

Awesome – I’m bringing cables tonight so don’t let me forget to give you some. Will be nice to see you at the workshop tonight, been a long time mate!

2 Likes

Awesome - looking forward to seeing you too!

1 Like

Hey! Janet just tagged me in the slack channel for this. I’m interested, but I’m very green! Happy to come by VHS this week or next and learn/hack!

1 Like

Welcome @M-E ! I will be there for a workshop at 6 tonight, and then again likely around 3 - 4:30 ish tomorrow. No pressure, but if you are just starting with this, Feel free to take the “light up” one as it’s most straight forward and I can bring another to the space.

1 Like

Sounds good! I’ll aim to come by tomorrow while you’re there. Would I be able to work on them in the space with the tools and get a bit of guidance?

2 Likes

Hey @M-E i have a good couple kits that I brought, some simple switches to get you started. Will DM you my cell. Look forward to meeting tomorrow and picking your brain a bit. :slight_smile:

1 Like

But wait, there’s more! BC Center for Ability called and has one more toy, this adorable cappuccino machine!

Looks to have up to 8 switches / buttons that could be adapted. The benchmark would be atleast 2, but again I have never seen this toy before, so Im not sure what is good, bad or ugly about doing this one.

1 Like

Toys still available!

RE: LAMP
I am not in town atm, but before i left, i took a look. The lamp switches are capacitive.
Pro: no activation required.
Con: must be powered at all times.
but they can definitely be adapted into switches.