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Playing with a circuit kit - Lectrify

02
Feb/16

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Recently, we got to try out a couple of new electronics kits called Lectrify. The parts can be snapped off and embedded directly into your project. It was fun to experiment with this kit and I’d like to share some of the thoughts that I had while playing with it.

I was particularly interested in using the LEDs for a sewn circuits project because it looked so easy to sew on! The LEDs have tiny loops that you can sew through and the polarity is color coded. When we do sewn circuits activity in the Tinkering Studio, there are a few things we have to tell people about before they start sewing:
1) polarity - mark one of the LED legs so you will know which leg is negative/positive
2) techniques for making LEDs sewable - curl up both of the “legs” or leads with a needle nose pliers to make them sewable.
3) tools - We also teach people how to use the pliers, since it’s often their first time using that kind of tool.
With Lectrify, you can skip these steps and jump right into sewing circuits.

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I made a bag for my phone with the two LEDs in parallel and two different kind of switches in series (a momentary switch and on/off switch).

I was kind of surprised at how quickly the components turned into a sewn circuit project, which is what I liked most about this kit. Our Circuit Boards are fun to play with and allow you to explore electricity, but they can't be embedded in a project (they weren’t designed for that). With Lectrify, once you explore a circuit and understand how it works, you can take the components and use them for your project. I've seen lots of circuit kits but not so many of them have this kind of embeddability that could be used in broad applications, for example this could be used in sewn circuits, paper circuits, scribbling machines, bristlebots, Lego circuits, etc. The cost isn’t as cheap as raw components, but it’s not that expensive (as of today, it is $5 on Amazon). With its compact size, we were thinking it might be a nice addition to our vending machine in the Tinkering Studio!

Here is another project that I did with Lectrify.
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I made a vibrating Lego machine with a pager motor, a battery, and on/off switch.

The tiny loops under each component are actually designed to fit well with Lego blocks. Since we’ve been messing around with Lego recently, it was natural to try to create a Lego project with Lectrify. Then I remembered that we had a special conductive tape that our friend Rachel Hellenga brought a while ago. This tape has holes that align with Lego studs!

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Lectrify kit doesn't come with alligator clips or wires, but that actually gives us opportunity to think about what we can use to connect these components. Copper tape, pipe cleaners, tin foil, paper clips, etc., just look around your house to find what you can use to conduct electricity!

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Adding a motor to Lego naturally encourages iterations as you see how the machine moves around. It's also great to add a potentiometer to adjust the motion. One thing I have to say though, I actually had a hard time trying to fit the components onto Lego. Although their website says that they fit well with Lego, it was not so easy to do that. I eventually used a hammer(!) to make them fit.

Overall, it was fun to build circuit projects with Lectrify. The motor, lights, switches, potentiometer, and battery work well as a starter kit. I wonder if they’re planning to expand the range of components to add more variety to the circuits. If so, we look forward to playing with those too!

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