Quick Connect Circuits





Introduction: Quick Connect Circuits

I was working on making a collaborative board game where people would build circuits. It went through many revisions, saw many rule changes, and made it pretty far in development. Sadly, difficulties with certain aspects of the rules, and other projects requiring my attention at the time kept me from moving forward anymore on this.

While this won't tell you anything about the game (as I'd like to get back to working on it someday), I will tell you how to make the pieces I used to snap together circuits.

Step 1: Materials & Tools


  • Electronic Components
  • 1/2" square dowel rod
  • Copper tape
  • Wood Glue (possibly)
  • Magnets (I used neodymium of various sizes...see what works best for you)


  • Punch
  • Pliers
  • Drill
  • Soldering Iron (and Solder)
  • Saw or other cutting tool

Step 2: Cutting and Shaping

The first step is to cut your dowel into 2 inch lengths.

One of my pieces was going to be a transistor, so I cut a 2 inch piece, and a 1 inch piece, and glued the one inch piece to the center of the other to make a T shape.

Step 3: Prepping for Drilling

A punch was used to hand press a mark in the center of the sides of each end. This mark is where the drill would be centered.

There are 5 sides at each end of the dowels. A punch mark was placed on all 5 sides.

Step 4: Drilling

Find a drill bit large enough to fit your magnets, but smaller then your dowel.

Carefully center the drill bit on the dowel, and drill a hole deep enough for your magnet.

Some of the magnets I was using were larger, so some of the holes I drilled completely through.

If you're not careful, you will drill out part of the dowel you can't really get back (see images)

Step 5: Time for Magnets

Take a magnet and press fit it into each of the holes you drilled.

Keep in mind, the polarity of the magnets is going to be important at some point. You can ensure they're all polarized the same way, or opposite. Just think about how you want it to connect to other pieces before you copper tape over them and can't undue it.

Step 6: A Bit of Copper Tape

  1. Images 1&2
    • Cut a couple strips of copper tape. See the first two images for the lengths I used.
  2. Image 3-4
    • I wrapped the copper tape so it made one complete revolution, and and still had enough for two more sides. I left this part unstuck.
  3. Image 5-7
    • I then took the other piece of copper tape, and taped it across the end of the dowel.
  4. Image 8
    • The component was placed so the leads were resting on each end of the copper tape. Ensure it's sitting on both pieces of copper tape, and both pieces of copper tape are visible.
  5. Image 9
    • Solder one lead of the component to both pieces of copper tape. This ensures both pieces of copper tape are electrically connected to the component. Then do the same to the other lead.
  6. Image 10-11
    • Finally, tape the remaining bit of copper tape down, happy in the knowledge that everything is connected.

Follow this sequence for however many components you want to make, and by the end, you'll have a whole set of components you can quickly snap together to try stuff out with. Mine are all sadly in storage right now, so I have no shots of all of them. But all the components you see in the materials step on the table were turned into blocks, and another block had a battery pack on it.

Hopefully this is useful to someone out there.



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    That's a great idea! It looks really similar to LittleBits, But probably waaaaaaaaay cheaper!

    Hahahahaha...yeah...thankfully I didn't have to buy anything as I had everything on hand. But yeah, if you don't already have magnets...that's the one part that will get kind of costly.

    No...that's very true. What I meant by costly is an idea for a revision. I thought it would be good to use 1/2" squared magnets on each end of the block. That way you don't need to drill anything. You can just glue a magnet to the end of the wood and call it good. The bigger the magnet, the more it costs...

    But you're right...still way cheaper then Little Bits :-D...though...Little Bits do have a lot more tech on them.

    I'm sold on this! LittleBits is open-source, so the tech is freely transferable. The blocks could be wider to accommodate larger components and double magnets.

    Just a thought - Copper plate the magnets and dispense with the tape?

    Do the magnets ever cause the electronic circuits to malfunction (e.g. in an LRC circuit)?

    great workshop idea for the maker space.

    little tric though to make the magnetic faces polarity independent:

    use two mangets per face.

    place one N facing on the left and one S facing on the right. this way you can trun your elements and they will always stick together.

    Just make sure that you always have the same polarity on the left and the opposite on the right.

    Great idea! I noticed that you left magnets off of your materials list. I need to make some of these to get my kids interested in electronics. I can't justify the price of the Little Bits kits.

    One other thing, does the copper tape maintain continuity through the adhesive? Or did I overlook a step where you addressed that?

    The copper tape doesn't maintain continuity...that's what the solder is doing. You solder the under layers to the top layers to the components. (Step 6, Image 9)

    Also, thanks for letting me know that I forgot magnets...I'll go add that right now.