Having said that, I love Snap Circuits - they are an elegant teaching tool, because of the practical and visual representation of a schematic. But not always the most attractive projects emerge from the box, and the complete sets themselves are ridiculously expensive and perhaps even overpriced. I discovered, though, that one can buy replacement units at a fairly "reasonable" price.
I also love the simplicity and elegance of the Joule Thief, and while most of the designs that take advantage of its power are clever and attractive, I wanted to make something both useful and pretty, So, I decided to combine Snap with Joule.
Here we go.
Step 1: What You Need
Hot glue gun
Razor knife to get the %#*$ blister pack on the light open
From Elenco Electronics www.cs-sales.net/sncirepa.html
(3) 2 spring socket: #6SC 1 @ 2.95
(1) 1K ohm resistor #6SC R2 @ .95
(1) NPN transistor #6SC Q2 @ 2.50
(3) single snap conductor 6SC 01 @ .25
(4) two snap 6SC 02 @ .50
1 three snap 6sc 03 @ .70
1 4 snap 6sc 04 @ .90
1 jumper wire 6" 6sc3 j3e .75
mini base grid 6sc bgm 2.75
(1) Slide switch: #6SC-S 1 @ 1.25 (optional)
Total: $23.40 plus S&H
Cigar or other box with lid,
Gooseneck LED lamp or LED setup of choice. I got mine at
Wire (salvaged, free)
Toroid (salvaged, free)
(1) ziotek battery upsizer @ $3.95
(1) D cell holder .99 radioshack
Grand total: $31.34
And lots and lots of dead batteries. FREE. Maybe someone will even pay you to take them.
I think that's it.
Step 2: Prepare Thy Lamp
To secure the lamp to the connector unit, I fed the wires through a grommet to avoid accidentally cutting them off on the metal of the lamp base.making sure I had stripped enough to reach the springs, Then I hot glued the grommet in the middle of the spring connector, and the lamp neck into the grommet. I set this aside until I had the rest of the circuit laid out because I didn't want it to get bumped around.
Step 3: Prepare the Toroid
I salvaged a toroid from an old radio. (In another version I salvaged the tiny little toroid from a CFL. It worked.) Winding the toroid is explained in a bunch of other instructables as well as all over the internet, so I'm not going to explain it here. I'm not very coordinated, so it took me awhile.
After the toroid is wound, strip the ends of the four wires.One wire of each color from opposite sides is twisted together, the other two single wires stripped. They will be connected as explained in the circuit outline.
Step 4: Lay Out the Circuit
There are a plethora of EXCELLENT instructables detailing this circuit, so I am not going to belabor the point.
This image came from Evil Mad Scientists web site. Great site.
This is the cool part about Snaps - you are pretty much creating a 3-dimensional copy of the schematic. This is a wicked cool way to teach younger kids without having to worry about burning down someone's house when little Johnny/Jilly drops the soldering iron.
Step 5: Put It in a Box
Step 6: Make It Pretty
Step 7: Turn It On!
I also purchased a coin cell battery holder which fits nicely between the the spring terminals.
Oh yeah -we can also use 9v batteries - rip them apart and free the 6 little AAAs inside. (Has anyone taken apart a RadioShack 9v lately? They've replaced the AAA size with a stack of flat rectangular things.) But I'd prefer to use the Snap Circuit 9v batter holder, but I'm guessing that might require more resistors and I have no clue how to do that.
That's it - the art thief will be spotlighting masterpieces for years to come!
Enjoy, and I'd love to have comments.