Normally, electronics require circuit board, electricity, and various other parts in order to function. So I can say with 100% certainty that gadgets made from concrete will not function no matter how much you want them to.
If you’re looking for a new interactive robot toy for the kids, the ActivePuzzle looks like a fun one. It lets users build their own robots that can perform simple tasks or challenges simply by snapping together puzzle pieces.
These interactive puzzle pieces can be pieced together to build fun robots, and your kids will learn some valuable STEM skills while they’re at it.
You might not know it, but Play-Doh and similarly made modeling clay are conductive, which makes them a great way to introduce electronics to kids. Squishy Circuits has kits and recipes for both conductive and insulating clay.
Huaquiangbei in Shenzhen, China is widely recognized as the world’s best electronics market. Hundreds of vendors sell gadgets, accessories and components in both retail and wholesale. But the language barrier and the size of the place makes it an intimidating destination.
Welding and soldering form strong bonds that conduct electricity and heat, but they require high temperatures that can be dangerous to both people and equipment. A new company called MesoGlue claims that its eponymous metallic glue has all the advantages of welding and soldering but with the ease of use of polymer adhesives.
Image from Advanced Materials & Processes, January 2016 (pdf)
MesoGlue is made of metallic nanorods that are spaced just right such that a pair of coatings can lock into each other.
Robo Wunderkind aims to do for robots what littleBits and other newbie-friendly electronic kits are doing for gadgets. Made by Robo Technologies Inc., the robot kit is made of modules that snap together with the help of a simple adapter.
Like the aforementioned electronics kits, Robo Wunderkind greatly simplifies the act of building a robot.
The past couple of years we’ve seen single board computers separated into modules to make them more accessible to newbie makers, especially children. Microduino knows there’s no better way to get kids interested than with LEGOs, so it came up with the mCookie.
Like littleBits, mCookie modules attach to each other using magnets.
We’ve seen programmable electronics that use magnets or Bluetooth instead of wires and solder to connect its parts. But those kits are mainly meant for beginners, and are not as powerful or versatile as more advanced computers such as the Raspberry Pi or Arduino boards.
The latest in the growing niche of circuit board printers, the Voltera V1 can print up to two layers of conductive tracks, apply solder and reflow the board when SMDs are added.
The printer has three extruder heads – one for conductive ink, one for solder and one for insulating ink – that you can easily pop on and off thanks to their magnetic connectors.
Last year we learned about SAM, a newbie-friendly electronics kit that used Bluetooth instead of solder or wires to connect its modules. Mesh is a lot like SAM, only with an even less intimidating presentation.
Like SAM, Mesh modules or “tags” use Bluetooth to communicate with each other and with the programming interface.
Last year we featured LittleBits, an electronics kit for children and beginners that uses built-in magnets instead of solder to connect modules together. A new kit called SAM takes the user-friendliness to another level, because its modules connect to each other wirelessly.
SAM uses Bluetooth Low Energy and the Internet to let the modules and the SAM app communicate.
Conductive paint or conductive ink is lets you draw conductive traces, great for simple projects, mockups or even minor electronic repairs. You can easily order these materials from different manufacturers – such as Bare Conductive – but if you want to save money check out Brian McEvoy’s simple guide to making your own conductive paint.
Brian suggests using graphite powder as the conductor and acrylic paint as the medium.
We’ve featured a handful of 3D printers that can lay out conductive tracks on a variety of materials. But that’s just part of the process of making a circuit board; you’ll still need to place a variety of small parts on the board.
Japanese shop Breadboard Maniac has come up with a custom breadboard that you can use for work and play. The CakeBoard is a solderless breadboard that you can stack and connect like LEGO. In fact you can connect it to LEGO.
A couple of months ago we talked about the Rabbit Proto, an add-on that lets existing 3D printers print with conductive ink and other viscous materials. Structur3D’s Discov3ry extruder is like Rabbit Proto, but it’s designed to be more versatile from the get go.
We’ve seen an add-on that turns ink printers into circuit board printers, and even a 3D printer that specializes in printing circuits. A new company called Rabbit Proto takes prototyping to the next level with its eponymous product.