Electronics have been a nifty tool to help kids and other imaginative mammals stretch the limits of their knowledge for decades. A simple electronics toolkit provides the opportunity to build a number of interesting projects that are not only fun to make, but can actually be useful. Those projects that aren’t useful are still very cool to try making. I swear, the kids today with their bebop and their Keds sneakers and their hula hoops and their Scribblenauts and their playing with the PS3….they don’t understand the simple joy of making an electronic gadget themselves. That’s why you should make these things and tell your kids to keep their MP3-playing sticky little fingers to themselves.
Create a very small synthesizer capable of playing just about any tune you can think of. You won’t be putting Moog out of business with the limited tones that this electronic device can produce, but it is still a pretty cool deal to know you’ve made your own musical instrument. The tone control knobs on an electronics kit can produce a tone ranging from very low to ear-hurting highs. (Think Mariah Carey trying to convince you that a squeal is equivalent to an entire octave.) You can also add a vibrato effect by fiddling with one of the control knobs. A jumper wire at the input terminal a synthesizer made from an electronics kit can be manipulated to produce different tonal effects.
Using just two pieces of wire and a water-sensing element connected to input clips, your electronics project can be a water detector. That hick chick from The Thing That Couldn’t Die could have used this electronic device and maybe she wouldn’t have come up with the head that wouldn’t shut up. (That’s a freebie for the MST3K crowd in case you’ve lost). When the free end of the wires are put to a dry object, you’ll get no response from this water detector. Conversely, when the wires touch an object that has been allowed to get wet, the response will be an audio signal. Your ability to find water in the middle of the Sahara desert may make you suspect that it is not actually a water detector, of course.
Why buy a fancy continuity tester when you can build one with a basic electronics kit? Your homemade continuity tester can be used to test for faulty electrical connections in a variety of home appliances. When the AC plug touches the electronic board clips, an audio beep will signal the presence of electrical current. Be sure to turn on the power to the appliance in question so that its internal circuitry will complete.
Peggy Hill once obliviously observed that a substitute teacher for music class will be needed as long as there is no mechanical device that can keep time. Forgive her, folks; Peggy ain’t the sharpest king of the hill. Musicians have a number of vested interests when it comes to electronics projects. The tone frequency on an electronics kit can be slowed down to the point where it becomes the slow ticking of a metronome. The speed range can be changed by using different resistors of varied sizes.
Quiz Game Buzzer
Jeopardy fans as well as those who loved seeing the Whammy appear will enjoy this electronic device bit o’ fun. Those who enjoy games where a buzzer indicates who will be the first to be allowed to give the proper response can make that integral part of their trivia game with an electronics kit. Up to four different buzzing mechanisms can be made. A trigger push-switch can also indicate with a light who is the first responder.
Light Sensitive Alarm
A light sensitive alarm can be made by using an electronics kit. The presence of a shadow falling across the light sensor will result in a beep. The amount of light that causes the buzzer to sound can be manipulated by adjusting the 100k preset. False alarms are prevented by making this project respond only to a sudden change in light and shadow rather than a gradual change.
The Electronics Club: Sample Projects
Music from Outer Space