Introduction: Switch Adapt a Toy: WolVol Train Made Switch Accessible!

About: The Taskar Center for Accessible Technology is lead and partner in bringing awareness to inclusion in play and recreation for kids with disabilities. These instructables are part of the creation of the Pacific…

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 WolVol Bullet Train! There is a lot of sensory stimulation in this one!

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: Jack Soldering/ Preparation.

There are two types of mono jacks you may choose to add.

In our images here, we have added a mounted jack, which will be mounted on the toy itself.

See our instructable about Preparing a Mounted Mono Jack.

You may instead opt for a female mono jack with a lead cable (as shown).

See our instructable about Preparing a Mono Jack with a Lead Wire.

Step 2: Toy Assessment

CAREFULLY remove toy from packaging. Do not destroy the box or packaging because we'll return the toy to make it look like new after adaptation so the recipient can receive an equitably 'new toy'!

In this step we study the toy to make our plan of action (how will we bypass the switch and how to do we plan our exit out of the toy).

Step 2a: Toy Check We first make sure that the toy works! Unscrew the battery compartment and put in 3 AA batteries. Test the toy!

Step 2b: Understanding Activation Look to see how the train is activated. This particular train has a single slide switch (on/off) at the bottom of the train chassis (in the rear) behind the battery compartment.

Single-switch operation makes toy adaptation easy, as it is clear how we can replicate the function exactly with an external switch. The question is whether we would easily be able to solder our jack in parallel with the switch. To answer this question, we must open up the toy.

Step 3: Toy Disassembly

WARNING: there are 6 screws that hold the chassis and the top together on this train. Two of those are embedded rather deep in the plastic and are not obvious. If you’re not careful, you can easily wear down the threading in the plastic of the toy. Please don’t try to pry the toy open before you’ve made sure to unscrew all 6 of the screws (positioned as shown in the picture).

This toy is VERY SENSITIVE. When you separate the bottom chassis from the top, do so slowly.

Step 4: Wire Soldering

  1. Determine where to solder the jack to the board
  2. Insulate and ensure proper wiring (making sure not to short the wires as they are close, insert a piece of cardboard for separation)

Look at the train chassis and identify the back board of the red switch. You should see three terminals on that board. One is free, and two have red leads soldered to them. Those are the two terminals to which we will connect the leads extending from the female jack. Please see image.

There is one free end of the cable extending from the female jack. There are two free wires (leads) at this point. The two leads are interchangeable. We will solder each wire to a single terminal on the switch. Be sure to follow the safety instructions for soldering.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT solder both free wires to the same terminal! If it helps, put a piece of cardboard in between the terminals of the switch to avoid accidental soldering of a wire lead to both the terminals.

Carefully solder the leads on to the terminals

Insulating: Place a piece of cardboard/thick paper between the terminals, as shown by the green paper fold in the above pic.
Test: with a switch plugged into the female jack, test the function of the toy (if you have to reinsert the batteries, please do so). The toy should activate as intended. If not, begin by checking that no wires had accidently disconnected during the adaptation.

Step 5: Plan the Wire Exit

We need a plan for where to mount the jack on the toy. Typically we choose an area of the toy that isn't crammed with switches and wires; otherwise, you risk interference with the toy operation.

For this toy, we will make a hole at the location that looks like a power button on the side panel of the train. See the pics below.

With a sharp object cut through the plastic, and make a 1/8th inch hole. You MUST start small, and incrementally enlarge the hole to make sure that it isn't too big. Check periodically until the jack slides through the hole snugly.
IMPORTANT: Do not try to drill into the toy. The plastic is brittle and will break.

Smoothen the surfaces, and file away any extra plastic hanging out. The thickness of your exit is important because the neck of the jack you prepared has to fit with the nut screwed on.

Holding the jack from inside with your finger, place the washer and then the nut over the jack neck. Hand-tighten the nut, then using small pliers further tighten (about 1/4 turn).

Now test that the jack works as expected (by connecting a switch to it and pressing it). Again, keep the wheels off the table to avoid unintentional movement and separating the top from bottom chassis.

Step 6: Final Test Before Reassembly

Replace the top onto the bottom chassis, slowly make sure no wires or tubings are pinched.

IMPORTANT: Check that there is no interference between wires, parts and anything that may have moved during your toy adaptation BEFORE you replace the screws. You may want to check with your table lead.

Re-insert the batteries and test the function of your female jack, as well as the function of the toy (as it was before the adaptation).

Step 7: Toy Reassembly

If everything works as expected, screw the toy back together, and perform a final test. Please check out with a facilitator.

After testing, repackage the toy nicely, making it look as new as possible. If you wish, please fill out a greeting card for your toy recipient letting them know who you are and any holiday wishes.