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Toddler receives a custom cyberdeck

Arduino TeamAugust 29th, 2023

The cyberdeck community has exploded in recent years, because makers like to use their creativity to create custom machines tailored to their tastes and requirements. But the community has overlooked one very significant target market: toddlers. Young kids love fiddling with buttons and switches, and there is a plethora of evidence that suggests that interactive toys are good for development. With that in mind, a hacker dad named Josh built his son this cyberdeck for little ones.

Unlike most cyberdecks, this doesn’t actually have to do any real computing. Josh’s son won’t be performing any pentesting with Kali Linux. Instead, it just needs to be fun and engaging for a two-year-old. That means lots of switches, buttons, dials, and LEDs. The top does have a single-board computer and screen from a promotional video player, but it is self-contained and just loops videos. All of the real magic happens in the bottom half.

Josh created this cyberdeck using a waterproof hard case. The bottom half has a panel covered in buttons and switches. Each of those also has a corresponding LED. An Arduino Mega 2560 board monitors the states of the inputs, then sets the LEDs accordingly. Right now, that is just a one-to-one direct relationship, so flipping a particular switch turns a specific LED on or off. But Josh envisions more complicated relationships, like logic puzzles, that he can incorporate as his son gets older. Implementing those would be as simple as uploading new sketches to the Arduino.