Hacking for the Holidays: Toy Adapting Workshop

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  • Sun. Dec. 8, 2013 1:00 - 4:00PM

  • A workshop on toy hacking for children with disabilities.

    Make the Holidays more accessible, learn to solder
    & modify simple electronics at the same time.



    At Hacking for the Holidays we will cover

    • How to modify toys for use with accessibility switches.
    • Learn how to make capability switches with readily available materials.
    • Learn how to solder and work with simple battery operated electronics.
    • Workshop + materials fee $50

    Who should attend?

    • Occupational, music and recreational therapists.
    • Parents, relatives and family friends of children
      who might benefit from switch adapted toys.
    • Makers, hackers and tinkerers.
    • Children under 18 are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult.
    • Anyone curious to learn about tinkering.

    What is Switch Accessibility?

    For many kids with physical disabilities playing with off-the-shelf toys is not possible, depending on their unique abilities a toy might not be accessible.

    However, if a child can move their head, feet, arm, mouth or any other part of their body it is possible to use a switch to play with the toy.
    Adding switch jacks to a toy will not affect the original quality of use, the existing buttons will operate as normal and kids who use accessibility switches will now be able to operate the toy.

    Learn how to solder and hack

    With your store bought toys, we will modify them for switch accessibility. We will discuss the skills you need to switch adapt toys and other devices in the future for personal use, work and fun.

    • Learn how to open and identify the components inside a toy or basic electronic device.
    • Understand the wiring of a toy from battery to switches to the activation of the device.
    • Learn to solder and add an accessibility switch jack to an off-the-shelf toy. And put the toy back together for normal use or with a switch.

    Ideal Toys for Hacking

    Please bring a toy to modify, we will not be providing them. Select a toy that is appropriate for your child. Below is a list of characteristics for selecting a toy for easy modification.

    • MUST run on batteries, no AC / wall plug toys.
    • Toys with simple operation, a touch, squeeze, pinch, pull. For example, a teddy bear that sings when its foot or hand is squeezed, or its belly is poked.
    • Inexpensive toys are actually easier to open and adapt.
    • Remote control toys, electronic musical instruments and electronic whoopee cushions are great!

    You can take your modified toy home as a gift for your child or student or we can help you gift it to a local child who will enjoy it.

    Some toys that are good for hacking

    Things to bring to the workshop.

    • Battery operated toy & batteries.
    • Camera to document your awesome hacking

    We will supply the soldering irons and all the hardware you need to modify your toy.

    Photos from Hacking for the Holidays 2011