Crazy Circuits Unboxing

by Ben N on November 15, 2017

I was pleasantly surprised today to get a package in the mail. When I shook it, it rattled just the same way that Legos do, but I knew that what was inside was electronics. Electronics which are as much fun to play with as Legos…

This package is from Brown Dog Gadgets, a local educational electronics company, which mostly deals in S.T.E.M. kit projects. I actually have a pretty old relationship with B.D.G., as I’ve known the owner, Josh Zimmerman, ever since we met in Chicago at the Instructables LIVE event. (That was the one where I drove my motorcycle right up the front steps of a downtown Chicago building!)

IMG_7290Being a fan of the company, I definitely wanted to get some of the Crazy Circuits components, and I pledged during the Kickstarter Campaign. The idea behind the Crazy Circuits system is that it’s an electronics set, which is compatible with, well, pretty much anything you can think of. Lots of the Brown Dog Gadget kits were already based on conductive tape, conductive thread, conductive dough and other user-friendly non-soldering options. Crazy Circuits is designed to work with all of those, but also has the spacing to snap right into place on Legos. On top of that, the micro-controller components are open source (using Arduino code) and include touch input sensors or headers for servo control.
In fact, pretty much all of Crazy Circuits is Open Source. There’s oodles of files uploaded on Github. Want to build your own NES video game controller? Just download the laser-cutter file and make it yourself!

The touch sensors on the Touch Board are capacitive. They work similar to a microwave oven control pad or a smart phone touch screen. One thing that’s neat about that is it means fewer wires. No more “one wire out, through a switch, another wire back to another pin”. Instead, touching a lump of dough, a piece of tin foil, or an alligator clip instantly activates a circuit. That’s great for hands-on activities and simplifies the circuits.

IMG_7292The Robotics Board instead includes header pins to match up with the wires going to some servos. Snap the board and servos onto some Legos, and BAM! You got a robot. I built a Lego robot a while back with the Little Girl, but now we can easily make one WITHOUT gobs of hot glue!

Besides common electrical components like LEDs, buttons, and switches, there’s some cool specialty parts as well. The tilt sensor works similar to the tilt switch on old-fashioned pinball machines. Great for making a project that’s shake activated! (Does anyone remember “Bop-It!”?) Another slick component is the Blick/Fade board. It’s a pre-programmed chip which makes LEDs either blink or fade, depending on which power connections are used on it. There’s even an alternating blink feature for a police light or railroad crossing type lighting effect.

Next, I’ll have to dig through our collection of Legos to see what I’ll want to work on. I might also want to get right into conductive sewing, perhaps making a light-up stocking cap for the winter.

Of course, I’ll keep you updated when I work on projects.
( EDIT: Here’s my daughter’s first project! )

Until next time, stay charged up!


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