Introduction: Switch-Adapt Toys: a Play @ Home Mixer Made Accessible!
Toy adaptation opens up new avenues and customized solutions to allow children with limited motor abilities or developmental disabilities to interact with the 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 Play @ Home Mixer. In this instance, we are adapting the toy by adding a 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).
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
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 female mono jack with a lead cable (as shown).
See our instructable about Preparing a Mono Jack with a Lead Wire.
You may instead opt for a mounted jack, which will be mounted on the toy itself.
See our instructable about Preparing a Mounted Mono Jack.
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'!
Assessment: look to see how the mixer is activated. This particular mixer can be operated both on the stand, as well as hand-held.
There is a MODE slider switch and a PUSH BUTTON (see image).
When MODE is set to SELF, the yellow PUSH BUTTON operates the toy as a "momentary switch" (meaning that the button has to remain depressed for the toy to operate). When the toy operates, the blades turn and the light turns on. We would like to preserve all functionality when we switch-adapt the toys. Sometimes, that's difficult, but in this particular case, we can do so by keeping all the original circuit in tact, and adding the mono jack in "parallel" to the push button. So when we open the toy, we will look for the circuit access to the push button.
Step 3: Toy Disassembly
Take the two halves of the hand-held mixer apart to uncover the circuitry controlling the toy.
Look at the top handle and the placement of the Yellow push button (see picture).
Examine the yellow push button carefully! There are several parts that are loosely connected. There is a spring under the push button which provides the resistance to the button, and there's the yellow push button itself which is pivoting on a built-in hinge. Study this well because you'll have to put it back once you're done soldering the jack.
Once you're ready, remove the yellow push button and identify the actual switch (a metal structure). Find the contacts where the wires (that lead to the motor circuit) are soldered to the switch. We will be soldering the wired female jack to the same contacts. But before we do that, make sure you've identified the correct points:
Use a test wire (any small wire) to touch the two ends of the wire to the two terminals you've selected, thereby imitating the function of the switch. If your toy has batteries in it, and the MODE is set to SELF, the blades and light should turn on.
CHECK IN! WITH AN INSTRUCTOR TO MAKE SURE THESE ARE THE RIGHT LOCATIONS.
Step 4: Wire Soldering
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 (i.e., do not solder both free wires to the same terminal).
Be sure to follow the safety instructions for soldering.
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 how the wire will exit 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.
In the mixer, we will create a notch for the wire to pass through in the pink handle close to the end with the light (not the side closer to the blades). Note that inside that part of the handle, you only have two red wires that are connecting the switch to the motor circuit.
Lay the wired jack loosely inside the handle (see the first image in this step) and mark the point where it would exit the toy. Make sure it is not taught. Wrap twine tightly around the cable (we used tape and it's not as good), this will act as a 'stopper' to ensure that even if the cable extension outside of the toy is pulled, it does not pull on the solder joint.
We now make the notch in the toy body (on the lip of the half-body) to enable the cable to exit the toy while still fitting the two parts of the toy back together. You MUST start small, and incrementally enlarge the notch to make sure that it isn't too big. See the size of the notch we cut for this type of wire in the image. The two cuts you make should be no larger than the diameter of the cable.
Be Careful! Better make the hole smaller than larger!!! You can always use a file to enlarge the hole, but a hole that is too large will make it VERY DIFFICULT to use the toy.
Step 6: Final Test Before Reassembly
Replace the yellow push button and spring. Make sure that you feel resistance when you press the push button (ensure the spring is placed correctly as well as the button).
Close the toy as carefully as possible. It is important to check that there is no interference between wires, parts and anything that may have moved during your toy adaptation.
BEFORE you replace the screws, 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.