Mintyboost Bundle, $26.24
The Mintyboost has always been a Maker Shed favorite. It’s a simple soldering project that can come in very handy. My house lost power for three days this summer and this tiny kit kept me connected and watching Netflix movies in the dark. It’s a great way to keep the techie or phone addict in your life all charged up.
Know someone who’s interested in electronics but isn’t sure where to begin? Make: Electronics starts you out with the basics of electricity (including licking a 9V battery) and takes you clear up through logic ICs. The Complete Collection includes the book and all the components you’ll need to complete the experiments inside. After they’ve finished the book, not only will they have a firm grasp of electronics, they’ll also have plenty of parts to elaborate on their skills.
Bare Conductive Kits and Ink, $8.99 – $26.99
Bare Conductive ink and kits are a fun way to teach and learn about electronics. Since the ink is conductive you can just draw the wires. No soldering required! The ink is available in a pen or in a pot, and works on multiple surfaces. It can be a little messy but cleans up easily with soap and water. It’s also non-toxic so you don’t have to worry if you’re having a little too much fun. Two kits are available, a light up house kit or a greeting card kit. Both are perfect for youngsters and are as fun to play with as they are to build.
Squishy Circuits Kit, $24.99
When people ask me what the best way to get kids into electronics I always mention Squishy Circuits! Just mix up the conductive and insulating doughs and start plugging in components to see what happens. The kit includes detailed instructions on how make the dough, along with a battery pack, LEDs, a motor, and a buzzer. It’s a brilliant way to make electronics approachable to anyone.
Blinky POV, $19.99
Persistence of vision (POV) displays have been around for a while. They use sequential blinking lights to create messages that appear to float in mid-air. While there are several several kits out there so you can build your own, there’s only one Blinky POV. What makes the Blinky POV different you ask? The way you program it! Most kits require a computer connection or microcontroller for programming. Not the Blinky POV. Just build the kit, go to a website on your smartphone or computer, and enter your message. Then hold your kit up to the blinking squares on the screen and the new program will be uploaded to your kit. It’s a simple project that’s easy and fun to use. Perfect for concerts, parties, parades, or anywhere you want to send a visual message.
Solder Time II Watch Kit, $59.00
The original Solder: Time watch is a great kit, and the Solder: Time II takes it to a whole new level. The watch takes around 30 minutes to build and is sure to get you noticed! The multi-function display has 140 individual LEDs (in four modules) which can display an impressive amount of information. Normal modes include time, date, month, stopwatch, alarm, scrolling text, and a sample animation. Since the watch is Arduino based it’s just begging to be tinkered with. Add your name, telephone number, or create your own game using the two input buttons.
Super TV-B-Gone Kit, $24.99
I made my dad a TV-B-Gone for Christmas last year and it’s been in his pocket ever since. This device gives him the power to turn off any TV within 100 feet or so. He loves to use it to terrorize the local sports bar and to shut off those pointless TVs in doctor’s office waiting rooms. It seems like every time I’m out with him another TV falls victim. Best $25 dollar gift ever.
Discover Electronics Kit, $49.99
I can’t say enough about the Discover Electronics Kit from Sparkle Labs. It’s playful and fun yet teaches you all the concepts you need to read schematics and build circuits. The projects start out by assuming you don’t know anything about electronics and build from there. A comprehensive video series walks you through every experiment. I really like that the kit doesn’t sugar coat the experience and uses uses real components that can be reused in other projects.
Bulbdial Clock Kit, $90.00
The Bulbdial Clock is a unique twist on the classic sundial. Three rings of LEDs cast a shadow which indicates the time. The LEDs fade in and out to make the hand movements seem fluid and realistic, and the laser cut enclosure shows off the inner workings. The build is a bit involved and will probably take an afternoon, but the result is stunning to behold. Displaying the clock on your desk, mantle, or workbench will ensure it leaves a lasting impression.
Supercap Racer Kit, $24.99
The Supercap Racer is a great stocking stuffer. Just solder the kit together and you’ll have a fun little robot-car thing that speeds across the floor. Since the kit uses a super capacitor, you can recharge it in seconds for non-stop action. The kit comes packaged in a mint tin which also becomes the carrying case. How clever!
Makey Makey Standard Kit, $49.99
The Makey Makey can turn nearly anything into a computer input. All you have to do it take it out of the box, plug it into your computer, and attach a wire onto something somewhat conductive and it becomes a computer key. You can play the national anthem by eating your lunch or Pac-Man with Play-Dough. It can be used by just about anyone with a little imagination and since it’s Arduino based, you can hack it if you ever feel like it. It’s a great way to explore interactivity in a completely new way.
Nebulophone Kit, $59.00
I think everyone knows someone who likes things that make noise. They’ve probably even driven you crazy with an Atari Punk console at one time or another. Enter the Nebulophone. This Arduino based synthesizer takes 45 or so minutes to build and hooks up to your guitar amplifier or computer speakers. It features 5 different wave forms (aka sounds), is playable with the stylus through 6 octaves, and has tons of options. The arpeggio function records your licks and plays them back at varying speed, and there’s even a “hidden” mode for extra fun. This is one kit that will keep them busy for hours!