Introduction: Scout Slides From Dead And/or Dying Computer

When one first outfits a boy for scouting one is usually advised that it might be a good idea to get an extra neckerchief slide, as the boys always lose them.  My original opinion on this was that boys, scouts in particular, should be able to learn to take care of their stuff!  I still believe this; but I must admit the official scout slides we buy at 2.75 (USD) do tend to disappear.


Luckily the boys enjoy making assorted slides.  A while back I got it in my head that we should make computer board slides.  And just recently I decided we needed to take apart keyboards and make monogram slides.


Below is a picture of the official scout slide.  Also pictures of finished slides.

Step 1: Probably Ought to Decide This First

There are times you need an activity that is quick and easy.  There are times an activity is not practical for more than 2 or three boys at a time.  (Even if I had 10 glue guns, I would not have ten third graders using hot glue at the same time)

Unfortunately too many scout activities are so well pre-prepared that the boys end up doing not much more than taping stickers on stuff. 


Of the two main slides we are making today, one is mostly done ahead by adults and is designed for a ‘gathering activity’ where the boys arrive at roughly the same time and spend 5-10 minutes on something simple before the meeting gets down to order.


The other is much more fun – more learning and doing.  And naturally more messy.


But the basic idea is the same for each. . . . 

Step 2: Equipment

Dead or dying computer.

One keyboard per child.

Pipe or hose or tube (1/2 inch PVC is our standard scout pipe)

Flathead and Phillips screw drivers, one of each per child.

Sticky Dots (sold in scrap-booking section of W-Mart and most craft stores.  Get the heaviest duty option available)

Hot Glue Gun.  And glue sticks.

Something to clean the computer parts with. 

Pliers narrow but not needle nose.

Optional - safety goggles.

Step 3: The Fun Part!

I started by showing the boys that the letters E and A could be taken off and switched. 

Then asked them if when I plugged the keyboard back into the computer the letters would  print what they were labeled or what was originally in that position. 

Then asked them why. 

Then asked them why the keys pop back up when you type. 

We had previously taken other items apart and so the boys already knew that they should be somewhat systematic and not force anything apart.

Then I told them all to strip the keys off.

Then we flipped the boards over and took them apart. 

There was enough variety in the keyboards to be able to make some comparisons and discuss why they thought the designers may have chosen a certain way to put things together.

The most amazing thing to all of them was the flexible plastic circuit thing.  That and how much dirt and crumbs were in some of the keyboards.

Step 4: The Hard Part

This part should have been easy for me since I was delegating.  But I swear it took longer for me to explain to my husband what I wanted than it did for him to do it!  Then I had to explain why; which you think he would have quit asking 20 years ago.


Basically I wanted the boards cut into basic rounded off shapes that were more or less rectangular.  I wanted them to range from ½ inch square to 2 inch square.  I wanted at least 50 of them. 


I did not get any pictures of this happening; I understand he started to do it on the band saw but ended up doing most of them with the scroll saw.  Or the other way around. 


These were the pieces for the 10 minute gathering activity.  Basically we had a huge bowl of board pieces and each boy chose a piece he liked and chose a length of pre-cut PVC and used sticky dot glue to affix the pieces.


This may sound boring but the 30+ boys really seemed to enjoy it.  Some of them wanted pieces with lots of ‘stuff’ on them and some wanted a sleeker look.  Some even chose the real bristly ones.  The boys with a little bit of electronic knowledge were happy to correct the other boys regarding what was a resistor and what wasn’t. 

Step 5: The Icky Part

Dump the icky sticky grimy nasty keys into a strainer.

Spray down heavily with degreasing heavy duty cleaner.

Soak and stir. 

Stir and soak.


Or. . . .

Put them in strainer in sink full of hot soapy (dawn dishwashing liquid) water.  Soak, stir, rinse.

Step 6: The Tedious Parts

Break the tabs off.

Or get keyboards that have keys with innies rather than outies.

Step 7: The Part an Adult Needs to Do

Turn all the keys upside down and fill to the brim with hot glue.

If you have the choice of using a hot glue gun with a pretty orange cord and trigger or a glue gun with two temperature settings, choose the one with two settings no matter how boring it is in comparison.  Apparently really hot hot glue will almost melt the keys.   

Step 8: Pipes, Tubes, or Hose?

As I said before, 1/2 inch PVC is a staple in our scout pack - we use it for many things great and small.

So I wanted to do something different.  

I tried a few things that I don't think are worth doing again.

I had an idea to use green garden hose, the real thready stuff.  Unfortunately I did not have any broken garden hose laying about the yard.  And to buy brand new hose for a project about making something from dead parts seems wrong somehow.  

But I did find something that works and is a bit different.  It can be gathered freely here like people gather sea shells in Nantucket.  The last picture shows this type of tube in it's natural state.

Step 9: Final Part. and Epilogue Part.

 Once the hot glue cools and hardens all the way you simply use the sticky dots to fasten the keys to the tubes.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

I tried using actual computer parts for the entire project and was not satisfied.  

I used mouse parts, but had to grind away part of the plastic housing.  Since my six boys are doing this for the 30 boys in the pack that's a lot of dead mouses and I would probably end up with a dead dremel (cough fake from harbor freight)  

I used a floppy disk but then had to bend it to make it lay down smoothly, and by the time I added the letters you couldn't really tell what it was.

I like the look using the clear plastic circuit things from the keyboards but super glue doesn't stick and hot glue has to be held in place and it hot!

The spiral cord was sort of cool but only worked with the letters that had the same size round under side.  Also, I think it looks a bit goofy.  

I tried to use the fat end of the cord, but the hollow part is too short once you shave away the solid part.

So we will use the shells and the PVC unless we can come up with a better plan.

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