Switch-Adapt Toys: Water-Breathing Walking Dragon Made Accessible!

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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 Pacif...

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 walking toy dragon that sprays water, lights up and makes a roaring sound!

In this instance, we are adapting the toy by adding a female mono jack with a lead wire into which the toy recipient can plug in the switch of their choice (whatever switch they are able to control and operate).

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Step 1: Before Disassembling

Make sure the toy works: Put batteries into the dragon 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 mono jack with a lead wire. The lead wire method is preferred over the mounted jack in this case because there is not a lot of space inside of the dragon. If necessary, see our Instructable about Preparing a Mono Jack with a Lead Wire.

Plan the exit: Lay the dragon onto its side so that the side with all the screws faces up. Mark the spot right above the on/off switch with a permanent marker. Do not do anything else yet.

Step 2: Opening the Toy

Locate the screws: Lay the dragon onto its side 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: Screws that are on the green plastic parts of the main body and head should be removed. No screws need to be removed from the legs, white inner mechanism, or face. TL;DR, once the two sides separate, stop removing screws.

If the toy does not open: You may have missed a screw. Check to make sure that there are no more screws holding the two halves of the dragon together before trying to pry the toy apart

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.

Step 3: Preparing to Solder

Location: The circuit board and on/off switch can be removed from the plastic.

Careful: The jumble of wires are all very thin and can break off of their original connections; lift the on/off switch and circuit board away from the plastic very carefully.

Step 4: Create the Exit

Location: Pick up the side of the dragon that does not have all the wires in it. This should be the side with the mark that you made in Step 1.

Carefully: Drill a hole where the mark is. This hole will need to be about the same size as the lead wire.

Take the prepared mono jack with lead wire: Thread the lead wire through the hole you have just made, making sure that the actual jack faces the same direction as the outside of the dragon.

Step 5: Soldering

Location: On the on/off switch, there are three prongs. Two of the prongs have red wires connected to them. These are the two terminals where you will solder the wires from the lead wire.

Mono jack: On the mono jack, there should be two wires. These are interchangeable. One of these wires will connect to one of the prongs on the on/off switch.

Make sure: Before soldering, make sure that the lead wire has been threaded through the exit hole in the correct direction.

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 dragon.

Step 6: Test

Before reassembly: Test that your connections work by putting batteries into the dragon and plugging a switch into the mono jack.

Step 7: Reassembling the Dragon

Tape: After putting the circuit board and on/off switch back into their slots in the plastic, tape the wires together as shown. This makes it easier to close up the toy without having to work around loose wires.

Careful: 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: Carefully place the two halves of the dragon together, making sure that no wires get caught between the pegs, and that your lead wire is not getting stuck inside of the toy. After the two halves are fitted back together, put the screws back in.

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