Introduction: Switch-Adapt Toys: Climbing Stairs Track Toy
Toy adaptation opens up new avenues and customized solutions to allow children with limited motor abilities or developmental disabilities to interact with toys independently. In many cases, the children who require the adapted toys are unable to interact with most toys currently on the market, because they aren't able to effectively push, slide, or press the manufacturer's operating buttons.
This Instructable guides you through the process of adapting a toy with animals that climb stairs and race around the track! It also lights up and plays music.
In this instance, we are adapting the toy by adding a mounted female mono jack into which the toy recipient can plug in the switch of their choice (whatever switch they are able to control and operate).
Step 1: Before Disassembling
Make sure the toy works: Put batteries into the toy and test if it works first. No point in adapting a broken toy! Remove the batteries after this initial test.
Prepare the mono jack: This project uses a mounted mono jack. The mounted jack method is preferred over the lead wire in this case because there is enough space inside of the body of the light. If necessary, see our Instructable about Preparing a Mounted Mono Jack. Make sure the wire you attach to the mounted jack is long enough to reach from the planned exit hole to the circuit board.
Note: There are multiple models of this toy with different animals racing up the stairs. They should function more or less the same and can thus be adapted following this guide.
Step 2: Opening the Toy
Locate the screws: Lay the toy onto its front so that the side with all of the screws faces up. Every screw here will need to be removed before the toy can open.
Note about screws: There may be a screw under the sticker on the back of the toy. This one must be removed as well, so carefully peel back the sticker just enough to expose the screw head and remove the screw.
Note about opening: There may be stickers on the two sides of the toy near the base, as shown in the pictures. These must be carefully cut in half using a blade before the toy can open.
Careful: There are moving pieces inside this toy. Do not aggressively shake the pieces or intentionally take the insides out; they can be annoying to reassemble. Open the toy slowly and lay the halves down gently, as not to pull on the wires inside.
Step 3: Create the Exit
Location: On the half without the battery compartment, mark a spot somewhere above and to the right of the on/off switch, as shown in the images.
Carefully: Drill a hole where the mark is. This hole will need to be about the same size as the mono jack. The stairs portion of the toy can be removed, so remember how it fits together before removing it if desired.
Step 4: Preparing to Solder
Location: You will be soldering onto the on/off switch.
Decide: There are two possible spots to solder to, depending on whether you want music or not. The first picture shows where to solder for both music and lights; the second picture shows where to solder for just lights with no music.
Careful: The solder points are very close to, or even on top of, existing wires. Be careful not to desolder these or let the solder touch more than 1 prong at a time.
Step 5: Soldering
Location: Solder to the two points you decided on in the previous step following the prongs that the above images point to.
Mono jack: On the mono jack, there should be two wires. These are interchangeable. Each of these wires will connect to each of the spots the picture is pointing to.
Important: The connections on the two terminals CANNOT BE TOUCHING. Do not solder both free wires to the same terminal, and do not let solder connect the two terminals.
Soldering: Follow safety instructions for soldering.
After soldering: Wrap electrical tape around any exposed wiring. This will prevent the wires from crossing and touching after you reassemble the toy.
Step 6: Test
Before reassembly: Test that your connections work by putting batteries into the stairs toy and plugging a switch into the mono jack.
Step 7: Reassembling the Stairs
Take the mounted mono jack: Unscrew the ring and washer from the mono jack and fit the jack into the hole you just made, making sure that the actual jack faces the same direction as the outside of the toy.
Careful: Tuck the new mono jack wires in the side of the toy to ensure that they are out of the way of the original machinery. Make sure that no wires are resting on top of the circular pegs. This is where the screws go and the wires will be crushed if they are left there when you close the toy.
Reassembly: Replace the transparent stairs piece if removed. Carefully place the two halves of the toy together, making sure that no wires get caught between the pegs. After the two halves are fitted back together, put the screws back in. Do not forget about the screw that goes under the sticker on the back.