How to Make Circuit Blocks

Let's play, tinker, and make circuit blocks. Circuit blocks are great for drop-in programs. Learners can explore and create circuits using simple set of electrical input and output blocks.

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How to Make Circuit Blocks
40 Steps
Supplies
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Gather all the tools above. Please take a look at the supply list for details.

Gather all the tools above. Please take a look at the supply list for details.

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Here is a simple example circuit. We have a power source, an output (a holiday string light) and a switch.  By putting these components into  blocks it is less intimidating to tinker with circuits.

Here is a simple example circuit. We have a power source, an output (a holiday string light) and a switch. By putting these components into blocks it is less intimidating to tinker with circuits.

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For our first block, we'll make a power or a battery block. For this block, we will need a battery holder, two nails, and a wooden block.

For our first block, we'll make a power or a battery block. For this block, we will need a battery holder, two nails, and a wooden block.

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Make a mark on a corner that is at a minimum about a 1/2 inch away from each side. This marks will be where we put our nails.

Make a mark on a corner that is at a minimum about a 1/2 inch away from each side. This marks will be where we put our nails.

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To get started put some hot glue in the back of your battery holder.

To get started put some hot glue in the back of your battery holder.

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Then put the battery back to the wood block. Make sure the two wires can reach the nails.

Then put the battery back to the wood block. Make sure the two wires can reach the nails.

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The wires will be long so you should cut the wires to about a 1/2" inch past the nail.

The wires will be long so you should cut the wires to about a 1/2" inch past the nail.

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Strip the wires about a 1/2 inch from the end. Twist the strands of that wire together. Wrap each one around each nail.

Strip the wires about a 1/2 inch from the end. Twist the strands of that wire together. Wrap each one around each nail.

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Solder the wire to each nail. Remember - wear your safety classes and have a fan on your work to blow the fumes away from you.

Solder the wire to each nail. Remember - wear your safety classes and have a fan on your work to blow the fumes away from you.

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Put the batteries in the holder and connect a light directly to test if it works. Remember if you use an LED to reverse it if it does not light up.

Put the batteries in the holder and connect a light directly to test if it works. Remember if you use an LED to reverse it if it does not light up.

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After testing that it is working, take the batteries out of the holder and put hot glue all around bottom of it. Put some glue over each wire  to prevent it from breaking off.

After testing that it is working, take the batteries out of the holder and put hot glue all around bottom of it. Put some glue over each wire to prevent it from breaking off.

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Here is our power block, done and ready.

Here is our power block, done and ready.

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For this next block, we are going make a switch. To get started, we need a switch, three nails, two sections of wire (about 5 inches each), and a wooden block.

For this next block, we are going make a switch. To get started, we need a switch, three nails, two sections of wire (about 5 inches each), and a wooden block.

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Place the switch on the wooden block and mark where you want to put the nails. Try to keep the nail about a 1/2 inch from each of the edges.

Place the switch on the wooden block and mark where you want to put the nails. Try to keep the nail about a 1/2 inch from each of the edges.

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Pound in the nails in at each of the marks.

Pound in the nails in at each of the marks.

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Apply some hot glue on the bottom of the switch. Then put it on the wooden block.

Apply some hot glue on the bottom of the switch. Then put it on the wooden block.

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Remove the black and red knots from the switch. Shorten the wires to the length that it can reach the nail from the switch. Solder the wires from the switch to the nails.

Remove the black and red knots from the switch. Shorten the wires to the length that it can reach the nail from the switch. Solder the wires from the switch to the nails.

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Screw back the knots back to the switch.

Screw back the knots back to the switch.

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Again, put some hot glue around the switch base and over the wires. Careful: don't let any hot glue get on the nails.

Again, put some hot glue around the switch base and over the wires. Careful: don't let any hot glue get on the nails.

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To make our next block we'll recycle our string lights and make a light block with it. You will need a string light, two nails, and a wooden block.

To make our next block we'll recycle our string lights and make a light block with it. You will need a string light, two nails, and a wooden block.

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Lay the string light on the wooden block. This will give you some idea of where to put your nails. Just make sure that the wires are able to reach where you put the nails. Make your marks.

Lay the string light on the wooden block. This will give you some idea of where to put your nails. Just make sure that the wires are able to reach where you put the nails. Make your marks.

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Nail them into the block (caution not to nail them too far in).

Nail them into the block (caution not to nail them too far in).

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Before hot gluing your string light on the wooden block, make sure you test it to make sure that it is working. Connect the light direct to the battery block. It should light up.

Before hot gluing your string light on the wooden block, make sure you test it to make sure that it is working. Connect the light direct to the battery block. It should light up.

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After testing to confirm that the light is working, solder each wire to a nail.

After testing to confirm that the light is working, solder each wire to a nail.

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Then hot glue it to the wooden block.

Then hot glue it to the wooden block.

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There you have it!.

There you have it!.

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Now we'll make a motor block. We'll will show you a trick at the end on how to make your motor vibrate. For this we will need, a small DC motor, two nails, and a wooden block.

Now we'll make a motor block. We'll will show you a trick at the end on how to make your motor vibrate. For this we will need, a small DC motor, two nails, and a wooden block.

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Put two nails in the block first. Apply some hot glue on the motor. Hot glue the motor to the wooden board. Make SURE the shaft is hanging off the edge of the wooden board.

Put two nails in the block first. Apply some hot glue on the motor. Hot glue the motor to the wooden board. Make SURE the shaft is hanging off the edge of the wooden board.

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The reason we need to make sure the shaft sticks off of the wooden block is so we can attach things to the shaft and it has room to still spin around.

The reason we need to make sure the shaft sticks off of the wooden block is so we can attach things to the shaft and it has room to still spin around.

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Strip the end of each wire and solder it to each nail. Apply more hot glue to the motor and the wires.

Strip the end of each wire and solder it to each nail. Apply more hot glue to the motor and the wires.

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We want the motor to vibrate. So we'll attach something to the motor shaft  that is NOT centered so when it spins it's out of balance. To do that, push a piece of hot glue stick on the shaft.

We want the motor to vibrate. So we'll attach something to the motor shaft that is NOT centered so when it spins it's out of balance. To do that, push a piece of hot glue stick on the shaft.

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Here are the four blocks that we just made! Lets play with a couple simple circuits.

Here are the four blocks that we just made! Lets play with a couple simple circuits.

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Let's light up the holiday light! Follow the circuit in the image to light up your block. Now, try the motor.

Let's light up the holiday light! Follow the circuit in the image to light up your block. Now, try the motor.

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To make the motor turn, simply replace the light with the motor. Here is a challenge: can you connect them both to the battery block and turn each one on at a time? Look to the next step for help.

To make the motor turn, simply replace the light with the motor. Here is a challenge: can you connect them both to the battery block and turn each one on at a time? Look to the next step for help.

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Did you get it to work? How about connecting it like the picture above?

Did you get it to work? How about connecting it like the picture above?

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Go ahead and make your own blocks. The more blocks you have the more fun!

Go ahead and make your own blocks. The more blocks you have the more fun!

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Here are our power source blocks and alternatives. We have battery blocks, solar panels, and  hand-crank generators.

Here are our power source blocks and alternatives. We have battery blocks, solar panels, and hand-crank generators.

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These are an array of the switch and even sensor blocks.

These are an array of the switch and even sensor blocks.

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Last but not least, the output blocks. Output blocks are the blocks that you want things to happen from the result of the input.

Last but not least, the output blocks. Output blocks are the blocks that you want things to happen from the result of the input.

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Enjoy exploring the circuit blocks. Please let us know if you have any questions of any blocks that we have or want us to add any particular ones.

Enjoy exploring the circuit blocks. Please let us know if you have any questions of any blocks that we have or want us to add any particular ones.

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