Camera Critters

Introduction: Camera Critters

About: I am currently in the process of covering La-La Land with my magical, time-traveling unicorn. Feel free to leave a message!

Hey howdy Hey! Coldfire1215 here, and today I'll be showing you how I turned my sister's old, broken LeapFrog Leapster (don't worry, I had her permission!) into a cute little Camera Critter! Ready? Here we go!

Before We Start...

All these screws are VERY small, and they are a serious chocking hazard to kids and small pets. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!


Another note, these things are NOT cameras. They don't take pictures. I only call them that because the finished product looks like a camera. Sorry for any confusion, folks!

Let's begin!

Step 1: Brainstorming

I was in my mother's office, looking around, and I saw my sister's old Leapster. It was old. It was scratched. It was perfect! After a creative slump, I was desperate for something, anything really, to make into art. This dusty old toy was the ideal solution. After looking online for ideas, I found several online tutorials for how to turn recycled or broken electronics into art. But most of them called for heavy-duty tools, like blowtorches. And I had no plans to torch the Leapster. I wanted to make it into art, not a puddle of melted plastic.

So, I took matters into my own hands. After brainstorming a bit, I took out my sketchbook and started drawing what I thought the Leapster could become. I spent a lot of time looking at the Leapster until I saw the face. Wow, I thought. Cool, an idea!

After rummaging around in the garage tool bag, and finally found a Phillips Head Screwdriver and got to work.

Step 2: What I Used...

Surprisingly little went into making the Camera Critter.

· Half a cardboard flap for the arms

· A pair of googly eyes

· A Phillips screwdriver

· A pair of kitchen scissors (to cut the wires AND loosen a particularly stuck screw!)

· Double-sided Scotch Tape

· Two of the six screws taken from the back of the Leapster

· A camera tripod

Step 3: What I DIDN'T Use...

Some parts of the Leapster were left on the cutting-room floor, including:

· The A and B buttons

· The arrow keys

· The pen (it was missing to begin with)

· The battery pack

· The four other screws taken from the back and the four taken from the circuit board

Step 4: Taking Off the Back

After flipping the Leapster over, I used the screwdriver to unscrew five of the six back screws and the kitchen scissors to loosen the corner screw. That screw was so tight, it began to wear down the head of the screwdriver. I used an old tip my dad taught me; "Tighten the stubborn screw to loosen it." Sounds pointless, I know, but it did the trick!

I removed the back and began removing the screws anchoring the circuit board in place.


PLEASE remember to put the screws in a SAFE PLACE away from children and pets. These screws are very small, and WILL choke a child or pet if swallowed, or cause SERIOUS injury if stepped on.

Step 5: Cutting Off the Inner Speaker

By turning the circuit board over, I saw a small black circle, the inner speaker. It was attached to the left side of the screen by a pair of yellow wires. Using the kitchen scissors, I cut the wires. I put the inner speaker off to the side, to be used in the next step.

Step 6: Adding the Details

I had the idea to use the inner speaker as a base for the second googly eye, to go underneath where the arrow keys had once been. The first googly eye fit easily into the circular slot where the A Button used to be.

I put the front of the Leapster down and lined the inner speaker with the arrow key slot, and placed it over the circuit board. THIS was a challenge, because I didn't tape or glue down the inner speaker, so it moved a lot. If you're gonna make this Camera Critter, I STRONGLY suggest you tape down the inner speaker, to hold it in place.

Next, I cut off part of the flap from an old cardboard box, and traced two cartoony arms with an orange colored pencil. Using the kitchen scissors, I carefully cut out the arms, and managed to screw up on the fingers. Yay, poor hand-eye coordination skills!

With my semi-okay arms cut out, I placed them on the back side of the circuit board, the side that would be covered by the back of the Leapster.

Then, I used TWO of the six screws from the back to hold the Camera Critter together. With two pieces of cardboard jammed in there, I couldn't get all the screws to stick, so I made do with just two.

For the eyebrows, I used some leftover black felt I had in the office and cut it into eyebrow shapes.

One of my biggest mistakes with this was attempting to glue the eyebrows on, and at a bad time. I use both Krazy and craft glue to try and stick the felt eyebrows on. But the Leapster is not a perfectly flat surface, and the glue only made the felt wet and limp. It stuck to my fingers, but not the plastic. I recommend that you use double sided scotch tape to attach the eyebrows to the head BEFORE placing it on the tripod. Trust me, it REALLY makes things easier!

After the back was screwed on, I assembled the camera tripod, so that the holding mechanism was at a slight angle, pointing toward the third and back tripod leg. This helped to balance the heavy weight of the Critter's Head. One of the Videos shows how the Head fell off the improperly balanced tripod.

Step 7: The Finished Product

Well, there you have it, Instructables fans!

A Camera Critter.

What I like about this project is that it makes a customizable toy, like a doll. The tape can be used to make different accessories to decorate and personalize your old Leapster. Some other ideas I had were yarn hair and eyelashes, but I had no yarn. I also tried using a felt mouth, but it looked too heavy on the Critter.

But who knows?

YOU may be able to pull it off, and make an awesome new toy out of an old one.

Until next time, and thaks for viewing this Instructable!

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