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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

Materials

  • 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)

Tools

  • 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.

<p>That's a great idea! It looks really similar to <em>LittleBits,</em> But probably waaaaaaaaay cheaper!</p>
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.
<p>Magnets... Costly?</p><p>I've bought 20 super strong neodymium magnets on eBay for ~$2. The only problem is that you'll need a super strong adhesive because they're so strong!</p><p><a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/20pcs-n50-round-neo-magnets-d-10-x-1-5-mm-rare-earth-neodymium-magnets/231401426650?hash=item35e0998eda">http://www.ebay.com/itm/20pcs-n50-round-neo-magnet...</a></p>
<p>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&quot; 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...</p><p>But you're right...still way cheaper then Little Bits :-D...though...Little Bits do have a lot more tech on them.</p>
<p>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.</p><p>Just a thought - Copper plate the magnets and dispense with the tape?</p>
<p>Do the magnets ever cause the electronic circuits to malfunction (e.g. in an LRC circuit)?</p>
<p>great workshop idea for the maker space.<br><br>little tric though to make the magnetic faces polarity independent:<br><br>use two mangets per face.</p><p>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. </p><p>Just make sure that you always have the same polarity on the left and the opposite on the right.</p>
<p>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. </p>
<p>One other thing, does the copper tape maintain continuity through the adhesive? Or did I overlook a step where you addressed that?</p>
<p>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)</p><p>Also, thanks for letting me know that I forgot magnets...I'll go add that right now.</p>
I'd like to see pictures of your other circuits when you get them out someday.
<p>Yeah, absolutely! Unfortunately, it's going to have to wait a few months until I can get my stuff out of storage though...I'm a bit upset I didn't think to take pictures of all of them -_-</p>
<p>I was thinking of a wood-block circuit project for kids. I like the block idea because connecting blocks are not only cheaper than little bits they more intuitively show that you are building a &quot;circuit&quot;! </p><p>I like your copper tape idea, it makes it feel electrical.. </p><p>The magnets: I would get rid of the side magnets, make the blocks wider and add two magnets on each end, mounted with opposite polarity. (let's say, left is always N, right is S). This way, blocks can be turned around and always connect. (Important for diodes). </p><p>Of course one wouldn't need to get rid of the side magnets, just make them pairs of two as well. But I think it would be cheaper to add branch pieces: 3-way T and 4-way X connectors for branching. If one adds straight circuit pieces (wire only), the branch pieces could simply be steel covered in copper tape, no magnets. </p>
<p>Nice! I like the suggestions. I had actually made a couple of pieces from just the ends of the blocks, connected by a wire in between. So you could effectively connect between a distance without having to try to navigate your way over using blocks.</p>
That is so simple it's brilliant. You just put the sparker to my brain. Thanks.
Hah! Awesome! I look forward to seeing whatever comes of the spark.
I was wondering if you have any experience with stirling engines? I wondered if you could uses peltier modules, i.e. thermoelectric generator modules to cool the cylinder sufficently to turn the linear travel into a power supply that would be portable, efficient, quiet, and captivating at the same time. <br>Sorry for the off topic question. You really have a great idea with the snap circut. I am intrigued with little bit stuff, but frugality and resource allocation to get other bigger projects finished have dampened my desire to buy them.<br>Why don't generator / coil stator setups get mounted on flywheels of say steam, or stirling engines?<br>
<p>Honestly, I don't have enough experience with Stirling engines to answer that without a hefty bit of research. Have you tried asking in the Answers section? There's a lot of people there that might be able to help:</p><p>https://www.instructables.com/tag/type-question/</p>
<p>Nice Circuit Tiles! It would be cool to coat the body and electronics, not the copper electrodes, of the tiles with a resin to protect the components!</p>
<p>Actually, one of my other ideas was to model pieces, so you could fit the component and magnets inside...that just seemed like too much work up front though.</p><p>I do like the resin idea...maybe you could cut a groove into the wood, to sink the component down a bit.</p>
I been drawing for a couple of weeks now and you sir have jolted my thinker, the simplicity of using copper tape is genious
<p>Glad to hear! This is why I decided to post this. Let me know what you make after it's all done. I'm curious to see other applications!</p>
o wow what an amazing idea<br>i guess little bits and breadboard<br>were invented for a similar purpose
<p>Nicely done. Thanks.</p>
<p>Of course. I'm glad you like!</p>
Possible modification: coppered LEGO-bricks? Great idea, could you start talking a bit about the rules? Maybe we could make a cummunity-brainstorming?
<p>You can download the rules here: </p><p><a href="http://sneezingturtle.com/index.php?id=41">http://sneezingturtle.com/index.php?id=41</a><br><br>It's linked under &quot;More&quot;. Community-brainstorming would be a lot of fun...once I have a bit more time.</p>
community-brainstorm

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Bio: You can see my personal website at sneezingturtle.com.
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