Lowering The Volume On A Kid’s Toy – Part 2

With the success of my first attempt at lowering the volume on a child’s toy, I turned my attention to another toy that was just a little too loud.  The volume probably wouldn’t have been as big a deal if the songs were better, but they were really unpleasant to my ear.  Here’s the offending device.


This one was a lot easier to open up, but this time I took a different approach. I had issues in the previous build with picking the wrong resistor because I was holding things in place to test the volume. This time around, I soldered in a small two pin female header to put the resistor in. That made it really easy to get solid contact but still be able to swap out resistors easily as I searched for the sweet spot.

insides with oddly long leads The socket with resistor in it

Oddly enough, you’ll see that it was a 100 Ohm resistor again.  The resulting volume for both projects is different.  Really the one in the first project should have been a little higher value.  I put together a really fancy tape job to cover any exposed metal and closed it up.

Taped Up All Done

All done!  Success!

Lowering The Volume On A Child’s Toy

This is an older project, but I thought I should share since I couldn’t find anything like it when I was searching the web.  The problem arose when a grandparent bought this loud fuzzy thing that sang the chicken dance and shuffled around the floor.  I’m sure it seemed like a cute gift in a large noisy store, but when it was brought inside a smaller, relatively quiet house we all found out just how loud it was.  The grandparent apologised and told us we could just toss it in the garbage, but I thought I’d see what I could do to quiet the thing down a little.

Fuzzy Loud Thing
Fuzzy Loud Thing

The picture above is a rough approximation of what it looked like.  I didn’t think to take a “before” picture.  This is it without anything on the inside, but you get the idea.  I was left with an interesting looking creature.

Odd Egg-Looking Thing
Odd Egg-Looking Thing

So I opened it up with a plan.  My thought was to add a resistor inline to the speaker, as long as the wires to the speaker were easily accessible.

Toy Guts
Toy Guts

I pulled the wire off and played around with a small bucket of resistors to try and find the right one.  Anything too big killed the sound altogether.  For this particular toy, 100 Ohms was the sweet spot.  It brought down the volume just enough.  I tested it just by holding the resistor in place with my fingers.  Then I took to soldering it in place and used a bit of shrink wrap to make sure there wouldn’t be any unexpected shorts when I put everything back together.

Soldering Part 1 Soldering Part 2 Soldering Part 3

I re-assembled everything and ended up with the same, odd looking, egg-like thing I started with.  Putting the fur back on it wasn’t an option as it would have required a lot of gluing and stitching.  The button to activate the music and dancing hung off the head at the end of a couple of long-ish wires, but it looked like it could survive in that state.  So I left it as-was and gave it to our little one as “their robot”.  They had expressed a lot of interest in the robot I was building and they were super excited to have their own now.  So it all worked out for the best.

This was a really easy project to do, but I also didn’t bother fully re-assembling the toy. The final volume was a little louder than I would have preferred which is due to the fact that I didn’t have proper contact when testing the resistor because I was holding the connections with my hands. I eventually repeated this fix on another toy where I improved upon the resistor testing. But that’s a post for another day.

New Site!

The old one was so too many versions behind so I’ve decided to start over fresh.  It’s been a while since I’ve blogged but I’ve been working on some fun projects that I wanted to track progress on.

I think this will be fun : )

A lot has changed since I last blogged.  The biggest thing is that I now have a kid!  It’s changed a lot in my life, but it’s strangely bringing me back to where I started with my interests and hobbies.  I’m finding great joy in sharing the things I was once really passionate about with our child.  This will hopefully serve as a great place to keep a record of some of those things.

New York – Day 6

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been 6 days. It feels like 18. We’ve done so much and have remained pretty-well isolated from home so it feels like we’ve been gone forever.

We had some last-minute shopping to take care of, then off to Newark. We flew in what has become a significantly out-dated plane on Air Canada. There wasn’t even old-school music service for entertainment. The one thing that made up for it was the insanely awesome view of New York at night from the sky. Manhattan at night is spectacular, but seeing however many boroughs we saw all lit up was simply amazing.

We landed at the Dorval airport in Montreal and proceeded to be baffled by the intructions, signage and layout. I’m sure when you’ve done it once or twice, you get the hang of it, but for a first-time trip, it can be a little confusing. Then a quick hop to Halifax, picked up our lugage then made it home by 1:00 am.

Luckily, we turned the TV to Saturday Night Live and were able to catch the sketch they had been rehearsing while we took our tour of the NBC studios the day before. It was a wonderful bit of icing on the cake for the end of our vacation. Overall it was tons of fun. I think we averages about 60 blocks of walking per day and can really feel it now. One thing’s for certain though. We’re going again because we didn’t get a chance to see anywhere near as much as we wanted

New York – Day 5

Had my first baffling experience in a Starbucks today. They have those in Halifax, but we have just never been. Tim Horton’s is much more popular. Thankfully my friend bailed me out, explaining what I was being asked. It was like a whole other language in there.

Speaking of languages, my wife pointed out the great breadth of languages you hear in the city, particularly in Times Square with all the tourists around. I’m sure we heard more languages than I could even begin to guess at.

In the afternoon we walked up to Central Park and roamed around a little. As anyone who’s ever been would know, it’s simply stunning in there. There was a cellist playing inside a lovely archway/hallway near the angel statue. The acoustics were wonderful and the deep voice of the cello made for some perfect music.

Then it was off to NBC Studios for a studio tour. On Friday they only have an SNL tour since most other shows don’t tape on Friday which was a bit of a bummer, but we were able to see some of the SNL cast rehearsing a skit which was really cool. We moved on to a bit of shopping and then started getting ready for supper.

We went to a smallish place called La Lanterna. I kind of got hosed on the service pretty bad, but the food was to die for. I had the tastiest Lasagna Bolognese I’ve ever had (and I’ve had lots). I was screwed by the service since the waiter didn’t actually place the order for my lasagna. So everyone else was almost done by the time my food arrived. Thankfully the quality of the food made up for it.

We popped over to Washington Square and on the way there, I got a close-up look at an all-black Tesla which was super-awesome. Then we chose to call it a night.

New York – Day 4

As expected, we had another slow start but we’re quite ok with that. The friend with whom we stayed just got back in town and it’s great to see him again. Time really flies when everyone’s preoccupied with the day-to-day mundane things in life. I think it’s been at least a year if not more since we saw him last.

We brought him a few treats from Canada including Smarties, Eat More bars and the difficult to find donair sauce. He loved all of it!

We went to a big buffet place for lunch which was ok for food on the run and by far the best buffet food I’ve ever had, but it was still buffet food.

We walked in the rain to the Rockefeller center to try to get an NBC studio tour, but we weren’t able to get one that fit our schedule. We walked up fifth instead and all the fancy stores, Gucci, Fendi, etc… We popped into the Disney Store to see what we could find for our niece and nephew (one other one is too old for that stuff). We didn’t actually pick anything up because we were going to the taping of a show.

Then it was off to the Colbert Report! The show was fantastic! The guy is hilarious and I got ask him a question out of character. He’s almost always in character so it was neat to hear some Q&A with the real Stephen Colbert. The set was much smaller than I expected. It was all there, but everything seemed to be in much closer quarters. I suppose it speaks to what you can do with good camera work.

Elvis Costello was the main guest, unfortunately, he had a sore throat and couldn’t sing. Stephen filled in though and it all worked out in the end. On the way home we stopped into a small place called Lucky’s burgers and I had a pretty awesome burger. Item of note for Canadians though. Anytime you order a burger, and don’t want to see any pink meat, you have to ask for it well done. Lucky’s, for example, cooks it medium unless otherwise specified.

We got home at a reasonable hour but the wear and tear of being on our feet all day is starting to take its toll.

New York – Day 3

The morning started slow. Going from a suburbanite commuter to a New York walker can be a bit of a rough transition.

Today was a day to see some sights. We already had a spectacular view of the Empire State building from where we were staying, but we thought we’d get a ground level view. I think it’s even more impressive from below. From there, the New York Public Library, Grand Central, Rockefeller Center and then to the Ed Sullivan theater for a taping of the Late Show with David Letterman.

Letterman was fantastic! The guy is just funny. He had Robert Pattinson on which was interesting. My wife and I aren’t caught up in the Twilight Madness, but we did watch the first movie a few weeks ago to see what all the fuss was about. I had no idea he was a Brit which ads yet another British actor earning a living doing an American accent (a bit of a shame really). He was very honest and direct with most of his answers. Seemed like an interesting actor given how he spoke about his role in the Twilight saga.

Then it was off to TKTS to get some cheap seats for a play. We scored some great seats for Bye Bye Birdie. John Stamos was listed as the lead but he was out, hence the cheapness of the tickets.

Before the show we went to a place called HB Burger. Great food, great atmosphere, great price. I still can’t get used to being asked how I want my hamburger cooked. In Canada, food establishments won’t serve medium or rare burgers due to heath concerns with E. Coli. But I suppose if you’re going to smoke like New Yorkers, drive like New Yorkers and/or walk in front of moving traffic like New Yorkers, then what’s a little E. Coli going to do?

Then, it was off to the play. Now I’ve never considered myself to be a fan of musicals, but wow. It realy was an amazing experience to see something like that live. The talent was fantastic all the way through the cast. The singing voices were just stunning.

Now it’s late and we’re back to rest. Given the day we had, I doubt we’ll be up early tomorrow.

New York – Day 2

Wow! We put about 60 blocks on our shoes and boy are we beat. We saw Times Square during the day and in the evening. It’s quite a sight, especially after dark. It’s loaded with tourists but it’s a heck of a sight. The one bummer about it is that there didn’t seem to be any decent food places. They were all chains. Sometimes it’s nice to see an Olive Garden, but not when you’re in NYC.

Thankfully we were told to check out a pace called Il Melograno on West 51st and 10th ave. It was awesome! They have a selection of pastas they make there, including the veal ravioli I had. I have only had comparable pasta once before in my life and it cost more than three times as much. It’s a small place, but fantastic bang for your buck in an expensive city.

After that, we went to a taping of The Daily Show. Joe Biden, the US Vice President was the guest. Made for a great interview and the rest of the show was great as well. What a great show that is. While I am looking forward to the rest of the trip, I don’t think we’ll be able to top that.

On the way home we stopped into Macy’s on West 34th/35th to pick up a couple of pillows. That was pretty cool. We had no idea the store was 9 stories tall. That’s a scale of store I’m just not used to.

The one bummer of the day was the smell of diesel and cigarettes. No matter where we went, diesel and cigarettes. We’ve been to Montreal and I think that there are actually tons more smokers in NYC. Didn’t think it was possible to generate more smoke than Montreal short of being an actual volcano.

New York – Day 1

Well that was a long day. We were both up before 6:00 am Atlantic (5:00 EST) and have now begun to crash at about 7:00 pm New York time.

It’s our first visit to NYC. It’s long been on the agenda, but family visits have always taken priority. This time, the stars aligned and we had an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. We’re staying on West 31st with a friend and the view from the 35th floor is unbelievable. Despite knowing that there are millions upon millions around me, I haven’t found the streets to be too crowded. Though we haven’t gone anywhere popular yet.

Tonight, we just grabbed a bite at a cute little place called Fresh & Co. on 30th that had fancy pizza an fresh chopped salads. We also picked up snacks at the Whole Foods in Chelsea. Other than that, we’re just wiped out from the traveling.

Tomorrow we’re supposed to go to see a taping of The Daily Show. I’m extremely excited for that because it is, without a doubt, my favourite TV show. John Stewart is an amazing interviewer, likely the best in the world. Tomorrow he’ll be talking to Joe Biden! Not likely to be a hard-hitting interview, but will certainly be entertaining. Our tickets aren’t guaranteed, so here’s hoping!