Pi-powered Baby Busy Board

Update: we have been contacted by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), who expressed the following concerns about this project.

It is difficult for us to fully see the dangers relating to the board but I have to agree with the non-exhaustive list of some off the dangers pointed out:

  1. The overall stability of the board is in question it looks as if it is propped against a set of safety gates but in someone’s home they will prop it against anything they feel suitable – the danger with this is that with the child pulling on the items the board could fall forward resulting in quite serious injury to the face. The spring door stops could easily poke a baby in the eye if they fell forward on them or pulled the board on top of themselves.
  2. If the springs are bent the coils of the spring will open up and could possible become a serious trapping hazard.
  3. Likewise the black fan on the left of the board in the video would appear to have a gap between the tips of the blades and the frame which again would be perfect for tiny fingers to get trapped in. The blades in industrial fans are often quite sharp on the edges. Whilst it is not powered it could still be an issue.
  4. The industrial castor also would appear to have a perfect gap between the wheel and the frame to trap fingers.
  5. The mirror should of course be plastic and not glass, which it may well be, but that should be stated in the details of the project to warn anyone else wanting to build one.
  6. The beads on the board represent a serious choking hazard our general advice is small objects like beads buttons, marbles , small toys etc should be kept out of the reach of children under three.
  7. RoSPA advice is that that parents do not make toys for babies. Instead we advise that parents and care providers only purchase toys from reputable retailers (as toy safety regulations demand very high safety standards for the products our children are allowed to play with).

Whilst we agree that activity boards are a great toy for child development they of course should be safe and meet the toy safety regulations. As this is an item for parents to put together themselves it is very unlikely to comply with the strict requirements of the regulations.

We would encourage you to take these points into account if you are considering building a project of this sort.

What’s small, squishy and guaranteed to be more interested in a springy door stopper than in the £100 toy you just bought for them?

A baby.

The author as a baby

This is me as a baby. I was going to use a standard Google Images baby, but instead I figured I’d use me. So here I am. Me in my infant form. Adorbs, right?

Sure, they’re cute. And that post-bath baby smell is intoxicating. We continue to spend our hard-earned money on toys for them, and they continue to be more interested in the box the toy came in. Perhaps it makes sense to give up on expensive toys, and get creative with various bits from around the house instead.

With this in mind, allow me to introduce the Pi-powered Busy Board: a pi-connected collection of things and stuff that make noises when you touch them. Aka Noisy Baby Paradise.

Keeping baby busy

Kenny Lilly, father of a squishy baby from across the pond, used random noise makers from around his house and coupled them with a Raspberry Pi 3, an Adafruit Capacitive Touch HAT and some Bare Conductive paint.

Raspberry Pi Busy Baby Board

Kenny used stencils to create attractive shapes with the paint. He then hammered copper-plated nails through from the front of the busy board to the back, to create connections between the paint and the HAT.

Raspberry Pi Busy Baby Board

He used the Adafruit Python library to control the touch functions of the HAT. When the user interacts with the stenciled images, the HAT produces appropriate audio playback.

Raspberry Pi Busy Baby Board

Kenny used a second piece of wood to make the back of the board, and built a frame using thinner pieces of wood to create a space inside. The  electronics are sandwiched inside the Busy Board, and the whole build is then powered by a USB battery, like the one you may keep in your bag to recharge your mobile phone. Finally, with a small speaker connected to the Pi, the build was complete.

The full how-to for building the Pi-powered Busy Board can be found on Kenny’s Instructables page. And if there are any health and safety concerns regarding a small, slobbery baby playing with conductive paint, Bare Conductive assure their customers that their paint is safe and child-friendly. So there you have it. Baby Paradise.

Raspberry Pi Busy Baby Board

Have you used a Raspberry Pi to appease your infant overlord? Share your project in the comments below.


solar3000 avatar

All that work for tiny human!
I do these thing for my children too. I’ve already built many raspberry pi based toys for them. And then they destroy them of course, that’s a given.

kenneth lilly avatar

Well as long as the Pi is intact I am fine with her destroying the rest. Plus I can recycle the busy board stuff to be used around the house later but I can only really give away a kids toy after it done.

Jax avatar

Awwwwwww! Look at that baby Alex. So precious and angelic.
…So what happened?

Helen Lynn avatar

All afternoon, we’ve been shaking our heads and asking one another the same thing.

Alex Bate avatar

Gosh! Cheeky! ?

Taryn Sullivan avatar

I am totally inspired! I made a really simple one (we named the FunStation 1000) for my daughter when she was a baby, but she is totally ready for the 2000 model w/ a Pi!!!!

Klark avatar

Very creative and imaginative use of tech and common house items. Also the build seems straightforward and simple enough for most parents to tackle, or even improvise upon if necessary. Definitely will be looking into doing something similar.

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