Make your own electronic children’s toys


[Miria Grunick's] son nephew is two years old. If you’ve ever looked at that age range in the toy aisle we sure you’ve noticed that there’s a mountain of cheap electronic stuff for sale. Manufactures are cramming LEDs and noise makers into just about all kids stuff these days. But [Miria] thought why not just make him something myself? She calls this the Blinky Box. It’s an acrylic enclosure stuffed with pretty LEDs that is controlled with a few buttons.

It’s driven by a Teensy 3 board which monitors a half dozen colorful buttons, a mode selector on the side, and an on/off switch. The device is powered by a Lithium battery that recharges via USB. And of course there’s a strip of individually addressable RGB LEDs inside.

The demo shows that one mode allows you to press a button color and have the LEDs change to it. But there are other features like fade and scroll. She also mentions that since it can be reprogrammed the toy can grow with hime. Maybe it’ll be a Simon Says game. But eventually she hopes he’ll use it to learn the basics of programming for himself.


  1. When I was growing up, we had this great electronics game: Impossible Operation. It involved fingers and electrical outlets.

  2. HackJack says:

    From my experience. Kids are completely defenseless against buttons. Whenever they see a button, they will always go and press it. Even if the button does nothing, they will press it furiously. Fact.

  3. iThinkiUnderstand says:

    Has anyone looked at the “helping hands” on her blog for this build? Heavy duty base.

  4. defaultex says:

    This would make for a good way to teach a small child how different colors mix together if it had a mode that added a bit more of each color as they pressed the buttons. Sure beats the way I learned, with crayons and a wall.

  5. JohnDenver says:

    Mike, why do you turn Miria’s nephew into her son ? This shows that you can’t blindly rely on Hackaday’s reporting. Always read the original source.

  6. rue_mohr says:

    see james, told ya the idea was a good one.

  7. smilr says:

    When I was very little my father made me something simiar: he walked into the local radio shack and picked up a project box, several lamps, and a handful of switches /buttons. (including my favorite, a 2.5 inch double knife switch) and just sorta… put something together. Lights would go on or off depending on what you did with the switches or buttons to no real rhyme or reason.

    Sadly, I was so young I don’t remember it in operating condition, but I kept the top plate with the knife switch for years, and attribute my tinkering to being exposed to this thing so early :)

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