Busy Board for Toddlers

Busy Board for Toddlers


Making a interactive board of tactile switches, dials, buttons, and joysticks. These tactile controls will light up various rgb matrix for feedback.

Parts list so far



I’m not sure a pico will have enough breakouts and enough speed to control so much input and output?
I’m wondering if this a better job for an Arduino and if so what model?

Something to build on

Is there a good development board for a project like this?


I’m looking for a big red rocker switch and a vu meter. do you sell them?


Any other child safe tactile control recommendations would be appreciated.


Hey Johnny,
Welcome to the forums!

This is an awesome project idea, I’ve seen a bunch of these that focus on locks and doors, but electronics are a great tactile learning tool for toddlers, especially in our modern world.

I do have a couple of additional suggestions that you may like:

As for the microcontroller, I think an Arduino Leonardo would be perfect for it, it has enough Analog Inputs and Digital I/O for all of the switches and outputs for the LED Matrixes/Rings.



Hi Blayden!

Great suggestions! I’ll add those all to the list.

a few more quick questions
  1. Are you able to source the LED Large Rocker Switch?
  2. I’m thinking I will need some high quality bread boards for testing, do you have a favorite brand?
  3. The toggle switch and cover is “rated for 20A at 12V”. Is that a maximum or a recommended? will the Arduino have enough kick to power that?


The toggle switch is rated for that at 20A/12V as its maximum load, anything underneath that shouldn’t cause any issue and is appropriate to use with the switch.
As for breadboards, honestly, most standard breadboards are fine, if you are just tinkering, there will be no significant difference between an expensive and standard breadboard.

We don’t currently stock those switches, however, we do have a range of rocker switches you can find here.



Hi Jonny,

To add to Blaydens response,

This switch uses a Neon bulb inside so needs AC voltage to light up

WRG32F2FBRLN - the last few digits indicate the electrical parameters, this having lighting=‘L’
Looking for a G series switch might be the best bet or simply putting an LED next to the switch!

Let us know if you need a hand with anything else :smiley:

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I had a good look at this piicodev potentiometer. From what I can see it’s part of a family of quick development systems that look very cool.
It also seems to be a closed system, with unique cables, an address system, and an API.

Because I’m using glowbit, seven segments, and controls from other suppliers, I think I’ll need a vanilla potentiometer like this.

Is that right, or is there a way to break out of the piicodev ecosystem?
Is there any advantage to the piicodev pot? Given it’s the only piicodev part in my project, is it more trouble than it’s worth?

I don’t understand what you mean by this. If you don’t want to use the PiicoDev products don’t.

But honestly the work Core Electronics has put into these products makes them so easy to use. Pi Pico loaded with micropython, Thonny as the IDE and Python as the programming language. The libraries have been written and debugged. In every case with any PiicoDev product I have used it just works as it should.

You have linked a Pi Pico in your post. I suggest also using a PiicoDev LiPo Expansion Board for Raspberry Pi Pico. This makes it very easy to connect any PiicoDev device and connect any external devices.

A note on using the Pico pins, check the volts will not go over 3.3V and the current will not go over a few milliamps. Some of the devices you have linked may need an interface board. Neopixels and lit switches etc. A simple ON/OFF switch can be connected directly as it provides no voltage. The Pico checks if it is connected to GND or not.

All the best.



Hi Pixmusix, Awesome project idea!

James is right when he says you can absolutely mix and match PiicoDev with other elements. The only thing that might trip you up is if another manufacturer makes an I2C device with the same address. We make sure there are no conflicts within our range, but there may be conflicts with other product ranges. Most of our PiicoDev range does come with address switches though, so you should be able to work around any conflicts.

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Ah great. I really like the look of the piicodev system and would like to start a collection.
I’m still a little lost on the functionality.
Looking at this picture of the piico potentiometer it seems to want a picodev cable for input output. If i did want to use it as a normal potentiometer, would I be able to use the 3 per-soldered pins at the base of the picture?

That’s a nice solution thankyou. :slight_smile:

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Hi Pixmusix,

You can absolutely hijack those three pins, but you might as well just get a regular pot instead IMO, the Pico has 3 ADCs broken out, so you can use 3 pots in the regular way quite easily.

One thing to note with the Pi Pico is the implementation of analog to digital is not as good as an Arduino ATMega328P inside the chip. But for sensing a voltage from a pot it would work well.
Probably the ADC in the Tiny16 on the PiicoDev is better than the Pico too.

Anyway, fun fun …

Hi James,

This is a bit off-topic, but what differs in the implementation that makes it worse? I’m really curious to hear what you’ve found :slight_smile:

They are both decent 12-bit ADCs from memory, it’s only the MegaAVR and tinyAVR 2-series that get exceptional ADCs (14-bit with PGA rings a bell)

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This is a great project idea. As a new Grandpa it’s right up my street to have noises, lights and sounds!


Hi Pixmusix,

Have you decided yet if you wanted to go with an Arduino as the core or a Rapberry Pi Pico? Either should be able to accomplish everything you’ll need them to do for a busy board I think your main decision point should be related to what libraries are available for the modules you want to use with the microcontroller.

All of the PiicoDev gear will work flawlessly with a Raspberry Pi Pico because it’s designed to be easy to use with a Pico via micropython. Using the same gear with an Arduino is going to be more of a challenge and there may be other modules with Arduino libraries already available that would be a better choice.

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Sorry for more off-topic.
@James the Pico datasheet states the following. This is why I believe it is not as good as AVR devices. The 150uA current draw was any issue for me when trying to measure the voltage of the LiPo powering the Pico.




Hi! Thanks for all your interest and support so far.
See below an update to the parts list and development on my intentions for this project.
My particular kid has grown fond of space, (who can blame her), so I’m going to make this a rocket ship control busy board. I’ve drafted up some basic Arduino code which I’ll post here to when I’ve tested it.


A rock ship launch busy board.
I want this project to be scalable and suit multiple age groups.
At early ages, virtually any inputs can be considered valid.
As a child get’s older, It will be easy to update the arduino to require more challenging inputs for the todler to “Acheive their goals of making light bleep bloops”. I’m using the Arduino Due since one day I hope to add sound.

Parts List PART 1




Switch : Arm the Rocket
Button : Launch the Rocket
Red Knob for below Pot
Pot : Power Up


Code Pad

Code Display


JoyStick : Movement
MechKeys : Unsure; it just looks so cool

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Parts List (Part 2)


Pot : Burner Controls
Blue : Fuel 1st Stage
Green : Fuel 2nd Stage
Red : Fuel 3rd Stage


Blue : Enter 1st Stage
Green : Enter 2nd Stage
Red : Enter 3rd Stage


RingLED : Orientation
MatrixLED : Main Display
GlowBit : Fuel Displays

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Hi Pixmusix,

Looks like a good list to me though you’ve got a link called RingLED which goes to individual GlowBit LEDs, which are surface mount and will require a PCB to use. Were you meaning to link something like the Addressable LED ring below?

Otherwise that all looks solid to me.

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Ah! Good spot.
I’m actually just going through the datasheets now to make sure I don’t need any components other than just cables etc.
Thanks Trent.

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Hi Everyone.

Hoping for some support.
I’ve been working with the glowbit rainbow tonight. I’ve just hooked power and data direct to the Arduino.

I found this popular library which did get it working… mostly.

#include <FastLED.h>

#define NUM_LEDS 13
#define DATA_OUT 30
#define DATA_SINK 31


void setup() { 
  pinMode(DATA_OUT, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(DATA_SINK, INPUT);
  FastLED.addLeds<WS2812B, DATA_PIN, RGB>(leds, NUM_LEDS); 

void loop() {
  for(int i = 0; i < NUM_LEDS; i++) {
    leds[i] = CRGB::Red; // <-- This line here! LED's Show GREEN!
    leds[i] = CRGB::Black;

void ledPop() {

This library seems to have a mode for WS2812B systems but for whatever reason every output throws the wrong colour to the glowbit. (Black does work however). It is as though the glowbit wants ARGB but the software is punching out RGBA.

  • Is anyone here aware of something I’m missing about the WS2812B systems? This is my first time working with WS2812B strips so I figure there may be some trick I need to include.
  • Can anyone recommend another library where they have already found joy?
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