Hello everyone! Today I will be trying out the circuit scribe mini kit, an electronics kit from Circuit Scribe. I have seen some videos online where people use the Circuit Scribe conductive ink pen to draw a circuit, and use some of their components to light an LED or drive a motor. Some videos also show the LED lights up when the edge of the paper is flipped over! It just got me thinking: how does Circuit Scribe really work, and what can I do with them?
For that, I experimented with the Circuit Scribe Mini Kit.
The circuit scribe mini kit contains 8 pieces; the circuit scribe conductive ink pen, power, LED and dimmer modules, a circuit stencil, a mini steel canvas and an inventors’ booklet.
The instruction manual gave me a clear understanding of how to start. First, it instructed me to colour in the red dotted areas with the pen. Followed by the two ways we can light the LED module by completing the circuit: conductive sketching, where we use the pen to doodle stuff in the box to complete the circuit, or by building our own paper switch and then flipping the edge of the paper to close the circuit. It was a pretty neat trick to create my own switch.
The instruction manual also introduces the different modules that this mini kit has: the power, LED and the dimmer module. Each of them has a different purpose, and I will talk about them in just a bit.
Now that I have a rough idea of how to use the mini kit, I am going to jump straight in to try it out.
I started off with the simplest thing to do here: to connect the LED, dimmer and the power module. Using the circuit stencils, I draw circles that fit my modules just right! Then all I have to do is to draw lines between the circles.
Despite placing the steel canvas behind the sheet of paper and attaching the modules, the LED did not light up after turning on the power. The connection between the modules can be somewhat weak at times.
After thickening the connections between the circles and colouring everything, I finally got the circuit to work. It seems that a thin line may not be enough to do the trick.
It occurred to me that a simple circuit built using colouring may intrigue young kids and engage them in stem learning. Electronic concepts like closing a circuit and the roles of the components can be picked up by their curious minds. These concepts can also aid prototyping in higher-level projects. Instead of using breadboard and jumper wires, we can just draw the circuit to test it out.
Next, I tried another simple circuit which switches on the LED by flipping the edge of the page onto the battery.
I feel this is a genuinely creative application thought of by the creators. This application opens the door to unique possibilities like a paper-switch-lit-LED-greeting card or even a paper city simulation with lights!
An interesting thing about the LED module that circuit scribe provides is that it lights up with a different colour when it is flipped. A change in the direction of the battery does the same trick as well. Another creative use of diodes by the creators once again.
I then tried out a simple fun doodle that I drew from scratch. After some colouring with the conductive pen and colour pencils of my own, I drew this fantastic (not really) portrait of a dog and a tree. The power module and the LED module are placed on the tree and the dog, respectively.
Once I placed the switch on the power module and put both modules on the circuit, the LED module on the dog lit up! As simple as my small idea was, it was fun to see it work.
It was a challenge to think of a picture to draw and find out where could the modules be places. I also had to consider how the circuit is to be drawn such that it does not form a short circuit.
This would require some creative thinking. Some follow-up ideas could be drawing a 3D paper city with lights and stuff. How fun would that be for young children?
Now let’s take a step back and examine the pieces. First, we take a look at the Circuit Scribe conductive pen. This pen is shorter and cuter than I expected, yet it looks like there is quite some amount of ink in it. Hopefully, it will last for many uses.
On trying the pen out, the ink of the pen is actually quite smooth.
The ink flows quite well, and it dries almost immediately, so we would not have the problems of ink smudging on the bottom of our hand when we are drawing.
However, the silver colour of the ink doesn’t stand out too well on white paper. I guess this may not be a bad thing and can be a characteristic that we can make good use.
Now for the mini steel canvas.
It has some instruction on how we should use it (on the other side). This steel canvas allows the magnetic modules to better contact with the circuit on the paper.
The mini steel canvas seems rather small and may restrict the stuff that we can do. But we still can do enough on this little canvas. Otherwise, I guess that a small whiteboard can be an alternative for this canvas if ever we want to build something bigger than this.
Nevertheless, the components click onto the mini canvas sheet very well. Even with a piece of paper in between and the whole setup held upside down, the magnets keep all the components on the canvas sheet.
A circuit stencil is also provided in the box for us to trace the circles and make sure that the circles that we draw are just the right distance away for the components to fit on them nicely.
The electronic modules (LED, power, and dimmer modules) are well designed by Circuit Scribe and compatible with their conductive ink pen. These 3 modules, which are designed to function as LEDs, power supplies and resistors, are the most commonly-used components even in much higher-level applications. Young students and kids can learn a lot from hands-on practice with such stem toys.
Overall, the Circuit Scribe Mini kit is fun and definitely worth exploring. It sparks creativity and joy in students and kids, and the knowledge they can get out of this mini kit is applicable as they graduate to build other types of circuits!