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Toddler's Cyberdeck

I’m building a cyberdeck for my son. He just turned 2.

My son likes to press buttons and flip switches. If there’s a remote, he grabs it. Windshield wipers in the car? ON. Power switch? ON OFF ON OFF ON OFF ON OFF… So I’m doing what any hacker dad would do… building him a box of switches. BUT THERE’S MORE! I recently got a video promotional card in the mail and what was originally going to be a simple wooden board with lights and switches is quickly becoming something more like a cyberdeck… and since I have to finish it by his party in 2 weeks, I’ll also have time to document and enter it in the cyberdeck challenge.

The project is simple… but made to grow!
My toddler likes to flip switches and press buttons and see something happen when he does. My original idea was simply to make a board with a bunch of switches and LEDs that light up when he does so.

Turning point:
Then I got a video brochure in the mail and saw that I could hack it by loading my own videos on it. Not much of a hack considering that it only needed a USB cable…. However it made me think: “how cool would it be to load up videos of computer boot sequences and some cyber hacker like videos to make my son’s simple flip switch board into a fo-cyberdeck? Now I need a hinged case…

So I bought a water proof case on that convenient online megastore. It’s yellow and about 11x8x4.

I then pulled out my box of switches that I bought when all of the Radio Shacks that were closing in my area and tried to find a nice selection of different buttons and switches that fit comfortably in the box.

Making a simple project complicated:
If I have switches, and LEDs… I can’t just hard wire them; I’m going to have to add an Arduino. So I pulled out a Mega that has been on the shelf for years and placed it in the box. While searching for the Mega, I happened upon a stash of mini OLED displays, so I pulled a few of those and put them in the box… because why not? Oh, and I just found out that the greeting card processor runs linux and could possibly be hacked to make it an actual computer…

The Race to the finish:
So now I need to calm down and realize that I only have 2 weeks until the birthday party and I need to just make the thing work. With switches. And LEDs. And settle for knowing that we can upgrade this thing for years to come. Oh yeah it needs batteries. Hmm…”

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