Friday, November 11, 2016

Harry Potter Mini Wand-- Target Dollar Spot Hack

 My Harry Potter Mini Wand flashes different colors when you tap it against something.
Harry Potter Mini Wand
I occasionally teach classes and recently started a maker club at my kids' school. I describe the club as craft projects, sometimes with a tech twist. So when I saw these snowman wands in the Dollar Spot area at Target I thought I could gut it for parts and make something, and if it didn't get too complicated I could have my students make some.
Flashing LED Snowman Wand

I mean, for a measley dollar, it must have batteries and multiple colored LEDs, and the whole thing works already. Why not hack it?

Decapitated Snowman Wand
Indeed it does have all those components, you can kind of see them in this photo here on the right.

I should say at this point that my son was not happy that I decapitated the snowman wand. I anticipated this and bought him his own snowman wand-- but he was still not happy.


Not exactly promising yet.
Anyway, step two was covering it with a layer of masking tape. I thought that things would stick to the masking tape better than the slippery plastic.

Hmm maybe this won't be terrible.

Then I took a long strip of masking tape and stuck it on one end of the wand, and twisted the tape as I wrapped it all around the wand. I did this a couple times until there were no large flat spaces left.

I then brushed Mod Podge onto each section and tore small pieces of tissue paper and covered the whole wand, similar to making a pinata except just one layer.

I used blue tissue paper because that's what I had, but brown or black would be ideal and then you could skip the whole painting stage.

I brushed another thin layer of Mod Podge over the whole wand and let it dry. I tried to hasten this process with a hair dryer because I am impatient.

Not promising again, really ugly.
 Then I painted it brown. So very, very ugly.
Yes I know it look like poo.
 The I took *a very small amount* of silver paint on my finger, and rubbed it on all the parts of the wand that stood up, trying to leave the recessed areas dark. When this dried I covered it with one more coat of Mod Podge.

At this point not much of the LED light was showing through, so I used a needle tool to gently scrape away some tissue and paint to expose the lit area in small patches. Now the flashing colored lights were easy to see.

Again here's the final product, with the lit part on the left. You just need to tap it again something to start the flashing LEDs.

Here's my wand next to the original snowman wand.
My Harry Potter Mini Wand Compared to the Original Unhacked Snowman Wand
I know it's a success because my son now loves it and keeps trying to steal it. I'll probably give up and let him have it in a day or so.

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