wolfgang ziegler

„make stuff and blog about it“

Hacking Crappy Kids Toys

June 16, 2020

Every now and then my kids manage to persuade me to bring along comic books for then when I go grocery shopping. I usually pick LEGO magazines since they comic with mini figures or small sets. However, sometimes (usually when specifically instructed by my kids to do so) I have to pick Paw Patrol, Fireman Sam or similar magazines. Those also come with gimmicks that are usually pretty crappy but sometimes can be improved quite nicely.

I already blogged about improving a Fireman Sam toy a while ago.

Starting Point

This is what we started with - a empty, boring shell of plastic. "It definitely needs light and sound" my 3-year-old and I established.

The Paw Patrol "Walkie Talkie" (before)

Taking it apart

Step 1 - we took the thing apart. Plenty of space to add electronics.

The Paw Patrol "Walkie Talkie" opened up

The Plan

Since we decided to add light* and sound, the first part would be simple. Add an LED - preferably at the tip of the "antenna".

For the sound I google a bit and found this nice schematics of a monotone sound generator based on a 555 timer, a couple of resistors and capacitors - all parts I had readily available:

  • LED (blue)
  • 555 timer chip
  • 10 kΩ resistor
  • 100 kΩ resistor
  • 2 x 0.01 µF ceramic capacitor
  • 100 µF electrolytic capacitor
  • piezo speaker
  • push button
  • 3V coin cell battery and holder

Sound generator schematics

The Prototype

To be safe, I prototyped the sound generator on a breadboard.

The sound generator prototyped on a breadboard

Putting the Parts Together

After soldering the components together and hot-glueing the board into the plastic shell, this is what the result looked like.

The improved walkie talkie with light and sound

Here's the final result. Sorry, no sound - but be assured: it's really annoying and my kid loves it!

The walkie talkie in action