Improving a motorized toy

[Dan Fruzzetti’s] daughter was delighted to get a motorized vehicle from her Grandparents, but [Dan] was unimpressed with the stock features. The lead-acid battery supplied remarkable life between charges, but the vehicle only had one feature: a go button that routed juice to the bipolar motor. After the break we’ll look at his improvements to the drive train, steering, and cosmetics.

After cracking open the top hatch he wired in a double-pole double-throw switch that reverses the polarity of the motor. This way the switch to the left of the steering wheel can be toggled to shift from forward to reverse. The little red button above that switch controls the horn he added into the mix. Although not pictured here, he did some work on the steering column to increase the rotational limit of the steering wheel, which improved the ability to turn and steer.

The finishing touches were more cosmetic. The photo above shows the addition of two red LEDs for tail lights and at the top you can see the LEDs added to the decals of headlights. [Dan’s] improvements cost pennies but they make this Power Wheels knock-off so much more fun for his daughter.

18 thoughts on “Improving a motorized toy

  1. I have a TMNT version I bought for my son a couple years ago. After the stock speeds got boring, I took the motor out of one of my HF drills that broke (F/R switch broke) and wired it in. The gear teeth are the same size. Now it’s an 18V battery with much better speed (has popped a small wheelie a few times) and even better, has multiple quick charge batteries so he never has to stop any longer than it takes to change batteries! It was really easy since the drivetrain is all one piece. Next stop is forward/reverse like this one!

  2. It was really important to me that they post this; likewise it’s really important to me that any parent model all their best for their children’s benefit all the time — we can, and should pass on our most valuable and resourceful skills. On a scale of 1 to 10 this project was definitely around a 2 but on that same scale for reward I’d say it’s got the highest score of anything I’ve ever done.

    I hope she can learn everything I have and then build from there.

    Thanks for letting me share, folks!

    PS – the welded steering stalk looks terrible; I had to burn off a lot of the chrome and I pitted it up something fierce. Ran out of oxygen in the middle of it on my first try, too :P

  3. Oops; I wasn’t clear — the horn is a round black moment switch placed just below the “go” button; the lights are controlled from the left-hand on the “dash”

  4. just don’t have any wonder why children are obese today when parents give them toys like this. what’s next, a motorized baby car with a joystick so they don’t actually have to crawl ?

  5. @Misha no, screw that, atleast cars get them outside to play. Those mini cars are the best thing ever. I would have killed to have one as a kid.

  6. @Misha: Many of today’s children are obese because parents don’t work hard enough raising them properly. Others are obese because the marvel of modern medicine prevented genetic obesity from being selected out of existence.

    My family are not obese because in addition to our cool toys — this one of which is now a better trainer to my child for the world to come — we also have some sense in deciding how they’re raised and how little ‘lazy time’ they are allowed.

    Seriously, it’s not the toys, the movies, the rap music, the blahblahblah… It’s the parenting that makes or breaks the adult.

  7. as a parent, this post right here is the most interesting one I’ve read on this website since I subscribed to feeds a few months ago. Bravo!

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