I thought I’d take the Geotrax baton from fellow Geekdad Don to give a nod to some parents who are hacking some serious modifications into their Geotrax toys.
Users are cutting up track pieces to allow for configurations not planned for by Fisher-Price toy designers. They’re also sharing photos of engine teardowns (joja_15 of the Geotrax Yahoo group supplied the one at left), modding out the engines with LEDs (the same group’s tmarks11′s documentation is at right), creating custom-built streetlamps, and devising tools to help double-up engines for increased power and speed. All of this and more is going on in the Geotrax Yahoo group. We have an interview up today on Z Recommends with Thomas Parker, an engineer who designs complex, multi-tiered track layouts in AutoCAD and sells them on eBay.
If you’re into hacking other toys not meant to be hacked, you can find other DIY resources for kids’ toys in a user-editable wiki I put together a few months back, toyinstructions. The site originated as a directory of links to toy product guides and instructions, but the built-in DIY and usergroup searches have proven the most popular resources on the site. (Wikispaces, the company behind the site, is having some trouble delivering search results within their wikis, but it’s easy to browse the alphabetized directory.) Feel free to add a brand of interest if you don’t see it there, and wiki members will do the research to fill in the listing.
By far the most playful Geotrax hack I’ve seen has been Geotrax afficionado Brian Mooney’s webcam-enabled video production. He managed to capture some film with a camera-mounted engine, taking the Geotrax fan film to new heights. You can find links to all of his personal Geotrax hacks here, as well as a link to programmer Sean Hawkes’ Flash-based Geotrax layout program.