Tag 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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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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Tapetricity Sensor

Using file cards and aluminum tape, you can make a sensor board that will be able to tell between different cards. By using individual cards, you can provide input to a light output board for a simple quiz game. You … Continue reading

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Paintable Circuits with Bare Conductive

At World Maker Faire, I finally got to see paintable circuits in action. Matt Johnson spoke with me about the conductive paint that people were using and showed me a few projects that demonstrate the possibilities. The business cards they brought were printed with a swath of conductive paint suitable for home experimenting. I awarded them one of my Editor’s Choice Blue Ribbons. It’s exciting how this opens up a great area in education for arts, electronics, and physical programming.

Bare Conductive grew out of the founders’ graduate studies at the Innovation Design Engineering Course at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College, London. The version of their conductive paints they had at Maker Faire is similar to the skin paint featured in a music video of a few years back. Continue reading

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