I know that I have been blogging and touching on many subjects lately. I am sure that everyone is expecting more on the invention steps of the 128-bit Processor but this blog post is to start my review of the Snap Circuits Extreme Kit for learning Electronics. I have decided that this blog is just as important in the invention of the 128-bit processor in that you learn about closed and open circuits which is how the 1s and 0s or on and offs of the processor work. Later I will be adding in the Elenco Snapino Kit too. The Snapino Kit is a Snap Circuits Kit with an Arduino Microcontroller board. These Kits are designed to interact and be used together. This is going to be an educational and exciting series of blogs that you and I both should learn a lot from. So let’s get started!!
In studying how to develop the 128-bit processor dating back to the January 11th, 2021 blog post, I begin to talk about the company Elenco and their electronics study kits for kids ages eight and up. In this blog post I talk about Project #1 on the Snap Circuits Extreme Kit which educates you on an open and closed circuit. While the Snap Circuits Extreme Kit does not need a computer or programming to use for all the projects, you do need to understand electricity. If you use a computer and are into programming anything, including the processor, you need the education on open and closed circuits, amount of voltage, and how to be safe with electricity. So please be patient with me as I bring this Snap Circuits kit into light and explain what you can learn. In the weeks to come I will go through the Pros and Cons of the Snap Circuits Extreme Kit and do my best to extend the projects more so you can learn and teach more to those you use it with.
Okay, so I was looking through Amazon for something to help my nephew learn at home. He is ten and I am pushing his parents to get him started on an education that will lead to a career now. I just hope they listen to me. I came across two kits that I was really impressed with. They are the Elenco Snap Circuits Extreme Kit and the Snapino Kit. I will be starting with the Snap Circuits Extreme Kit in my review and/or teaching. It is hard to do a review without teaching someone something. The Snap Circuits Extreme Kit without the case runs about $90. With the hard plastic case it runs $139.
The Extreme kit promises over 750 projects to build and that it is designed for ages 8-108 but I must say they have sold themselves short on the age range. I don’t care if you are 160 years old you will enjoy this kit if you like to learn. There are smaller kits named Snap Circuits Jr., Classic, and Pro that are in the same line of products with the Extreme kit being the largest. Elenco has other kits as well. Go to Elenco.com or Amazon to find the kit right for your price range.
Snap Circuits Power Options:
The Snap Circuits Extreme kit comes with two battery terminals and no batteries. Each battery terminal has a place for two AA batteries which I chose not to use. I went and bought the AC- Snap power supply with the 9 volt wall plug. It cost me about $17 on Amazon. The thing you have to remember about the AC-Snap power supply is that it has three power output snap connectors which supply 3 volt, 5 volt, and 6 volt. You will have to follow along with projects for the most part because most pieces do not give a voltage rating on the part. When in doubt don’t try it out! If the project calls for one B1 battery terminal use the 3 volt power snap on the B6 AC-Snap power supply. If the project calls for 2, B1 battery terminals, use the 6 volt snap connector.
Let’s work with Project #1. In Elenco’s project #1, you use four parts for the kit. Five counting the snap board to place the parts on. As I mentioned I replaced the battery pack B1 with the AC-Snap Power Supply B6. The parts you use for Project #1 are the power supply B6, the on/off switch S1, the 3.0 Volt/ 0.2A light bulb (lamp) L1, and a #3 blue snap wire. When using the B6, AC-Snap power supply, make sure your L1 lamp is connected to the 3 volt (3V) snap connector on the B6 power supply. This ensures that you do not overload the L1 lamp with too much voltage and blow the bulb. After you get the circuit together make sure the on/off switch is off then you can hook up the power plug to the B6 power supply. Afterwards you will see the red light on B6 power supply come on. That means that you have power. Next push the switch to the on position and you should see the light come on.
Project #1 Pros:
Project #1 is a simple open and closed circuit project where you use an on/off switch to turn the 3.0 volt lamp, L1, on. While this project doesn’t not look exciting it teaches how to put together circuits that have an open or closed state. In electricity this is how lights turn on and off. In computer science it is the same as circuitry creating the 1s and 0s state or on and off state. Hit the switch a few times while thinking of a computer. If you get into computer science you will see that computers know nothing more. They only know that there is on and off!
Project #1 Cons:
Elenco does not go into detail to explain anymore than what is explained in project #1 text, how to use the 6 volt lamp L2 in this circuit, or the M2 voltmeter you get in the kit. These extra parts and experiments are left out which can teach a lot. There is not a reference in Project #1 to where you can find more explanation of the project or what this circuit is used for in real life. But on Elenco’s behalf the kit already costs $90 and more projects would make the kit cost more. Also there would be less that you learn on your own experimenting.
Project #1; Extended Project Experiments:
I decided to do some experiments to extend Project #1. I have to apologize because I may not be able to add pictures to this blog post. After you have tested Project #1, remove power from the circuit and then remove S1 on/off switch. Replace it with S2 Press Switch and reapply the power. Now when you want the light to come on you have to push the press switch button. What is the purpose you ask? Not all circuits you want to stay on constantly like with the S1 on/off switch. A push button S2 Switch would be ideal for a horn or door bell. In computer science you use a reset button, which is like the S2 switch, to reset a computer. What happens when you press the reset button when a computer locks up, say due to an infinite loop program? You reset all the 1s and 0s in the processor and it shuts down basically.
Okay so let’s extend Project #1 even further. Remove power from the circuit by unplugging the 9 volt cable plug from the B6 part if you are using the B6, AC-Snap power supply. If you are using the battery terminal just remove the S2 Press Switch. Now you are ready to follow along with this extended project experiment. Remove L1 lamp and replace it with L2 lamp. Then add your S2 press switch back in the circuit. Add power back to the circuit by plugging in your 9 volt plug into the B6 terminal. Next press the S2 power switch button. What have you noticed? You should have noticed that the L2 lamp is not as bright as the L1 lamp was in this circuit.
No, there is nothing wrong with the L2 lamp. If you look on the L2 lamp you will see the writing on the case 6.0V/0.3A. This is a 6 volt light and you should only be using 3 volts from the B6 power supply. Press it again. Think about building your own computer and getting to the part where you add the power supply. Gamers should understand that when you don’t have enough power , like in this circuit for the 6 volt lamp, the computer doesn’t run as well.While you are not getting all the light you can from this 6 volt bulb, you should not have a fear of overheating it or burning out the lamp. So you have the circuit wired supplying 3 volts of power and the L2 lamp has a 6 volt power rating. Where can you go with this information?
You know that the 3 volt lamp worked fine in the 3 volt circuit. You know that the 6 volt lamp in a 3 volt circuit doesn’t get as bright. What else do we know? We know that the L2 lamp can handle more power. Unplug the 9 volt power supply plug and let’s turn the B6 power supply around to give the circuit the 6 volts of power. If you are using batteries then you need to set up your Project to use both battery terminals.
If you are using the B6 power supply terminal you should be able to turn it 180 degrees, or half way around, and get your 6 volt snap connector in line with your project. Put the project back together with the needed power and press the S2 power switch to complete the circuit. The L2 lamp should be as bright or brighter than the 3 volt L1 lamp. I can’t confirm that it is brighter however. Just make sure that you don’t use the L1 lamp in the 6 volt circuit because you could blow the bulb. If not it will degrade and go out or blow faster than if you treat it with respect as a 3 volt lamp.
What have you learned? You should have learned that a smaller 3 volt L1 lamp can be just as bright in the 3 volt circuit as the 6 volt in a 6 volt circuit. You should have learned that you have to close the circuit for power to turn on the L1 or L2 lamps. You also should have learned to unplug power before touching power circuits. I hope that you learn to take notice of the parts about how much power they are meant to use. As I said, you do not want to use a 3 volt bulb in a 6 volt circuit.