Switch Adapting a Child’s Toy

Adapted toys are magic for kids with motor issues.  It’s true that the toy creates joy and fun for the child, but it’s also the first step towards the ability to control their world.  This guide will show you how to choose and adapt a toy for your kid.


Choosing a Toy

Here are some tips for choosing a toy – but the most important tip is to make sure this is something that the child will love – everything else will work itself out!

  1. Look for toys with simple activation switches that are ideally separated from the main control circuit by wires.
  2. Avoid toys activated by motion or vibration.
  3. Try to stick to toys that can be enjoyed without direct contact.

Create the AT Jack

We’ve got a great video that shows how to create a jack for your AT Switch that you can add into the toy.  If your jack will be mounted directly to a hard surface of the toy, try to use the surface mount jacks with the threads and a nut to secure it.  If it will be free-hanging, wire up a jack that encloses the wires.

You can get both types of jacks from Amazon, Digikey, or from our friends at Adafruit:

If you’re doing LOTs of these toys that need panel mount jacks, we recommend these metal mono jacks from Digikey – they are easy to wire and we’ve found them very reliable.

Finding the right wires

As shown in the video above, the key to adapting a toy is to find the right wires and connecting your jack in parallel to them.  Normally the wires are easiest to find near the button on the toy, and you can follow them back towards the control box.

Often, they are the same color on the way out to the switch and back (blue and blue, yellow and yellow) and they normally are not black or red (which are reserved for power and ground connections to the battery).

Connecting your Jack in Parallel

Whenever possible, wire in your new jack (and therefore your new switch) in parallel with your current activation button.  That lets the original function of the toy continue to work even after you’ve added the new jack.

In the diagram, the green wires represent the new jack.  The blue represents the original wires.

Share your success! (Or ask for help!)

Let us know about your adapted toy on Twitter or on our Facebook Group!  We’d love to know about great new toys or to help  with any challenges you face!