Over the years I’ve seen people circuit bend toys to create distortion and change the pitch. After some experimenting, I couldn’t get Elmo to cooperate, so I went in a different direction to get the desired result. I decided to add volume control and an external audio jack so I could connect Elmo to the audio input on a guitar amplifier. The process was made fairly simple by using the ideas in this Make: article.
After wiring in an audio jack and potentiometer I was able to control the volume coming from the toy’s internal speaker, or cut it off altogether by plugging it into an external speaker like headphones or an amp. After I had the new components mounted, I decided to modify Elmo’s looks with some hot glue and foam core to reflect his new twisted sound.
If you’re curious about electronics—check your kid’s toy box for broken toys to hack and modify. Thrift stores and the clearance aisle are another great source for low cost gadgets to experiment with. And there’s something deeply satisfying about getting under the skin of a toy and turning it into something the manufacturer never intended.