Kid Friendly MP3 Cube

3D Printed Preschooler Proof MP3 Player Takes A Beat-ing

Prototyping new ideas can be a lot of fun, but putting new projects in a durable enclosure can be a difficulty. This is especially the case when the user of this product is one of the most destructive forces in nature: A toddler! This is the circumstance that [blue blade] found himself in when he wanted to build a durable MP3 player for his grandson, and you can see the results of his work below the break.

The hardware is simple: A 16850 lithium-ion battery powers an MP3 Decoder/Amplifier module that plays MP3s stored on a Micro SD card. A speaker, power switch, and micro USB powered battery charger complete the build. What stands out most is the enclosure. Why?

When children are involved, durability isn’t a matter of product lifetime, it’s also a matter of safety. Items that are easily broken aren’t just useless, they can be dangerous. With this in mind, [blue blade] built a brightly colored enclosure with extra thick walls joined by metal bolts. Externally, a rounded cover bolts over the charger connector and Micro SD card slot. The only other protrusion is a lighted rocker switch for powering the MP3 player on and off.

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Rock-A-Bye Baby, On The Mechatronic Crib Shaker

While an engineering mindset is a valuable tool most of the time, there are some situations where it just seems to be a bad fit. Solving problems within the family unit would seem to be one such area, but then again, this self-rocking mechatronic crib seems to be just the cure for sleepytime woes.

From the look of [Peter]’s creation, this has less of a rocking motion and more of a gentle back-and-forth swaying. Its purpose is plainly evident to anyone who has ever had to rock a child to sleep: putting a little gentle motion into the mix can help settle down a restless infant pretty quickly. Keeping the right rhythm can be a problem, though, as can endurance when a particularly truculent toddler is fighting the urge to sleep. [Peter]’s solution is a frame of aluminum extrusion with some nice linear bearings oriented across the short axis of the crib, which sits atop the whole thing.

A recirculating ball lead screw — nothing but the best for [Junior] — and a stepper drive the crib back and forth. [Peter] took care to mechanically isolate the drivetrain from the bed, and with the selection of the drive electronics and power supply, to make sure that noise would be minimal. Although thinking about it, we’ve been lulled to sleep by the whining steppers of our 3D printer more than once. Or perhaps it was the fumes.

Hats off to [Peter] for a setup that’s sure to win back a little of the new parent’s most precious and elusive commodity: sleep.

Hotline Helps Toddler Keep In Touch With Mom And Dad

Even though the age for first carrying a smartphone seems to be decreasing, there’s a practical lower minimum age at which a kid can reliably use one to make a call. So how do you make sure your tot can reach out and touch mommy or daddy? This toddler-friendly Raspberry Pi hotline is a good start.

With a long trip to Hawaii pending and a toddler staying behind, [kuhnto] wanted a way to make communication as simple as possible. In the days of pervasive landlines, that would have been as simple as a feature phone with a couple of numbers on speed dial buttons. With nothing but cell phones to rely on, [kuhnto] turned to a Raspberry Pi running PBX software and a command line SIP client for making calls over a Google Voice line. The user interface is as simple as can be – a handset and two lighted buttons on a wall-mounted box. All Junior needs to do is pick up the handset and push green to talk to Daddy, blue for Mommy. Something similar might even be useful for elder care.

Kudos to [kuhnto] for thinking through the interface issues to come up with a successful build. We’ve seen other UIs simplified for kids before, such as this button-free jukebox or this special-needs media player.

[via r/DIY]

Colorful Clock

A Colorful Clock For Toddlers

[Don] and his wife were looking for a way to teach their two-year old daughter how to tell time. She understood the difference between day and night, but she wasn’t old enough to really comprehend telling the actual time. [Don’s] solution was to simplify the problem by breaking time down into colored chunks representing different tasks or activities. For example, if the clock is yellow that might indicate that it’s time to play. If it’s purple, then it’s time to clean up your room.

[Don] started with a small, battery operated $10 clock from a local retailer. The simple clock had a digital readout with some spare room inside the case for extra components. It was also heavy enough to stay put on the counter or on a shelf. Don opened up the clock and got to work with his Dremel to free up some extra space. He then added a ShiftBrite module as a back light. The ShiftBrite is a high-brightness LED module that is controllable via Serial. This allows [Don] to set the back light to any color he wants.

[Don] already had a Raspberry Pi running his DIY baby monitor, so he opted to just hijack the same device to control the ShiftBrite. [Don] started out using a Hive13 GitHub repo to control the LED, but he found that it wasn’t suitable for this project. He ended up forking the project and altering it. His alterations allow him to set specific colors and then exit the program by typing a single command into the command line.

The color of the ShiftBrite is changed according to a schedule defined in the system’s crontab. [Don] installed Minicron, which provides a nice web interface to make it more pleasant to alter the cron job’s on the system. Now [Don] can easily adjust his daughter’s schedule via web page as needed.

 

Learning Letters, Particularly R, F, I, & D

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After [yohanes] picked up a toy at a yard sale – a Leap Frog Letter Factory Phonics – he thought he could do better. The toy originally asked a child to find a letter, and after digging one of 26 plastic characters out of a plastic tub and placing them on the Letter Factory’s sensor, would play a short musical ditty. [yohanes]’ version does the same, but because he made it himself it is infinitely more expandable.

The letters for [yohanes]’ version are RFID tagged. This, combined with a cheap RFID module and a bluetooth module means a Raspberry Pi can read RFID cards from across the room. From there, it’s a simple matter of writing up some Python to ask his toddler for a letter, reading the bits coming from a bluetooth, and keeping score.

The build isn’t over by a long shot. [yohanes] still needs to make his build multilingual by adding Indonesian and Thai. There’s also a possibility of adding a spelling game to make it more interesting.

Toddler Android

We came across a couple of videos of this toddler android. It sits up, rolls over, and responds to humans around it using visual, audio, and sensor inputs. After the break you will see that the movements are quite like that of a young child. The giveaway is the weight of the robot which is evident when its handlers trying to help it get untangled from that blanket. It seems to respond to individuals around with a smile and a twinkle of its… errr… camera eye. We wonder if it would find delight in knocking down some dominoes.

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Slothra, Arduino Powered Plushy Sloth

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[Daniel] sent in this project. He tells us it’s an Arduino powered kid’s toy that “furiously swings his arms” when you squeeze his chest. As you can see in the video on the site, furious is up for interpretation. It is a sloth though, maybe that’s sloth furious.  While it is cute and we do applaud the effort, anyone with children will agree that this is a step down in destruction for a 3 year old. You’re going to have to spice it up a bit, or give it a timer and make it free standing, make it roar or something to make it more appealing.  What recommendations do you guys have to improve this toy?