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.

14 thoughts on “Make Your Own Electronic Children’s Toys

    1. How do I vote up this comment?
      When I was a kid, 4-5 yo probably, my dad had a diy multimeter with white leads. I saw him doing something with an outlet and sticking leads into it. And my mother had knitting needles, the circular ones… With a white thingie joining them together… Well, I thought it would be cool to play electrician…

  1. 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.

    1. Confirmed. Even in late-grade school. My maker faire booth has a modus operandi demo with lit arcade buttons. During the “Education day” preview where it’s purely school kids, ~20 per adult, who don’t care for an explanation just that it goes CLICK CLIKC CLICK. Mashing their fists on it, not caring about cause and effect.

      Gotta love arcade buttons, they’re made for this.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 :)

  4. I really like the idea how hackaday made that button thing toy . But when I made it my kid diddnt like it so indeed I played with it all day! It was fun xD

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