Category Archives: Electricity

Solar Experimentation

Garden lights have an interesting circuit. When you buy them in the store, they may turn on their LED when light hits the solar cells as they did for me. After you pull the tab out, and connect the battery to the circuit, they only light the LED when the solar cell is in the dark. Inside the housing of the walkway lantern is a small circuit board between the solar cell and the battery. This circuit keeps the LED from using up the electricity from the solar cell during the day, and when the input voltage falls below a threshold, the electricity stored in the battery is sent out to do the work of lighting the LED. Continue reading

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TapeTricity Cards

TapeTricity is quite possibly the simplest way to introduce electricity to people. THere were kids as young as three or four who made their own working circuits (the younger ones got some parental help). This project was fun, because people got a chance to make a drawing, which they then picked out some places for LEDs. Next, they built a simple circuit out of tape, batteries and LEDs. It is a fairly quick project, and costs about a quarter per person. Continue reading

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BrushBots and CupBots

Recently, I helped out at the local library makerspace on a workshop for teens. We started with the BrushBots kit and project from Maker Shed. We used the BrushBots Party Pack.

The PHILS is an after school group that has been meeting at the library for a while, starting out as a philosophy discussion group. They are now exploring and demonstrating their philosophy with lots of hands-on learning. This week, they started building things that use electricity. Continue reading

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4 Drawer Resistor Storage

Storing resistors can be a little bit of a pain. If you just drop them all in the same bin, you won’t be able to find the correct value when you need it. Many electronics benches dedicate a lot of space to storing each resistor value in its own drawer. This can be a challenge if you only have a few of a particular value, or if you need to add to the system after the drawers have been ordered.

I’ve been using a simple drawer system for storing resistors, and this has worked for me over at least a decade of experimenting in several different spaces. Continue reading

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Starting with Arduino

There are lots of people who are doing interesting and innovative things with Arduino. Some of what is shown off online seems to be wildly complex. It seemed important to explore the basics. It might even make sense to build a few simple and easy circuits with their associated programs daily while building up a strong base of knowledge and experience with the system. One strategy that proved effective for these experiments was to leave the circuits installed on the breadboard. This allowed for maximum experimentation time by reducing the time to build, dismantle and rebuild the circuits. Continue reading

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Laser Clicker

Using some laser cut parts, along with a handful of machine screws and nuts, wire, conductive tape, and packaged inside a take out food tub, you can make a three axis motor controller.

This controller was created as a super inexpensive, easy to assemble way to operate the SeaPerch underwater ROV. This controller allows you to make your own DPDT switches. You can also make the switch part using a different technique, and more standard materials. Continue reading

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3D Printed Mendocino Motor

The Mendocino Motor floats in its own magnetic field and converts light into electricity and magnetism, which are then converted into the motion of the motor.

Building and studying this project provides the satisfaction of creating an amazing bit of technology, and the opportunity to explore magnetism, electromagnetism, electric motors, solar power generation, and personal manufacturing.

Build the base that holds the magnets and provides a bearing point for the motor. Then wind the motor coils, and solder them to the solar cells. When the motor is assembled, you’ll balance it so it spins freely, and perform any troubleshooting to make it work Continue reading

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