Saturday, October 4, 2008

I Made My Niece and Nephews Have Fun, and Make Things

I feel it's my duty to pass the spark of taking things apart, hoarding random interesting bits of things, and fixing things that others would simply toss to the next generation. Since I don't have kids of my own yet to pass this trait onto I practice on my brother's kids and their friends. To their friends I'm usually introduced to their friends as "uncle Ronnie, the one I told you makes all those weird things". I'm not sure how many kids I'm not the uncle of I'm uncle Ronnie to. It's kinda cool.

Anyway, on the way to work today I picked up a Razor electric kids chopper from someone's trash. The speed controller and batteries were long gone, but those are always the first things to die in these cheapie kids' rides and the drive train was still there. When the yung-uns came over this afternoon and saw this they wanted to know immediately if I could make it work and if we could do so before they left. It was already kinda late, but when my youngest niece came in and asked I couldn't say no. So I set them all to work helping to get it functional. My nephew holding wires and helping solder, his friend grabbing, stripping, and cutting wires, and my little niece testing that the beefy power switch made it go once it was all together. I used a couple mismatched, but fairly equal capacity batteries I had around for power, and we were ready to go. This was all frantic as it was already past dark and they were worried they'd be headed home at any moment.

We aired up the front tire with my air compressor, grabbed a flashlight for a headlight, and they rode it up and down the dirt road a few times on whatever power the batteries had. They had fun and I also got the chance to teach them about basic electronics, soldering (using my 40 year old 200w soldering iron), the precautions to be taken with big batteries (after shorting together the batteries in loop), and they were really having a good time trying to beat the clock and bring the little chopper to life. It's a squirrly little ride that ought to be on paved cul-de-sac rather than dusty dirt road, but it's fun none the less and I think they had more fun getting it running than from actually running it. We'll see if that changes when I get the batteries to full charge.

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