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The capacitors are designed to charge and then discharge, which allows the LEDs to flash.
Using a 330 ohm instead of the 470 should be fine, that's not your problem. Is either LED turning on? Check the placement of the capacitors, there should be a (+) and (-) marking on them. Make sure the capacitor leads are correct. Also double check the pins on your transistors to make sure that they were placed correctly
I wouldn't know how to accomplish that with this current circuit. Not saying it can't be done, I just don't know how to do it. Look into using a micro-controller like Arduino, you will easily be able to have the type of control you want over the LEDs
I'm pretty certain you should be able to expanded the project to add more LEDs, but only by adding them in series to the existing circuit LEDs. So, if you added an additional LED to each circuit leg with an existing LED, then you could have 2 on and 2 off, flashing back and forth (instead of 1 on and 1 off flashing back and forth). This is not programmable. If you're interested in programmable circuits definitely check out Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and others.
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I remember having to learn that one the hard way too. Usually when I can't get something to work righ I break it down into smaller sections and make use of a multimeter to help trouble shoot.
Glad to hear you got it working. Have fun building it with your kids.
The second circuit needs to stay. However you can replace the LED with a wire.
Shouldn't be a problem, as long as you have enogh voltage to drive the LEDs.
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