There’s nothing new about electronics kits–I had one as a kid from Radio Shack, and I remember sitting over my desk, cutting and stripping wires and hooking up battery clips and the like. My problem was that the kit ended up as an unholy tangle of wires and loose clips and cardboard cutout diagrams after my first attempt to make a project, and the kit seldom survived the first attempt to wire up a telegraph key or flashing light. That’s why I was impressed with Snap Circuits electronics kits when I was looking for an electronics kit for my son.
All the Snap Circuits components–resistors, transistors, ICs, LEDs–are mounted on solid, durable, clearly labelled plastic modules with familiar metal button snaps that you use to connect them. Anyone with a passing familiarity with Legos understands instantly how to put the pieces together, which makes building the prediagrammed experiments in the books provided with the kits easy. Even better, once you’ve built some of the circuits in the book, experimenting and making changes to see what happens is just as easy.
Snap Circuits makes a pretty good spectrum of kits for different budgets, starting with single-project kits that include just a handful of pieces, to different levels of comprehensive kits, and the impressive Snap Circuits Rover, which allows you to put together your own radio-control car. All the kits have interchangeable parts, so you can combine the parts from two kits to make your own projects. Snap Circuits also sells “upgrade” kits that give the missing pieces to build the projects in their more expensive kits.
I’ve had experience with their customer service department as well. I had a malfunctioning rover base just a few days after the kit was opened on Christmas day. I corresponded with their email support team and promptly received a new piece in the mail.
Snap Circuits isn’t the cheapest electronics kit out there, but the pieces are durable enough to survive being handed down from an older brother to a younger brother. That alone makes the kit a solid investment… as well as a good stepping stone to future father/son projects with soldering irons and breadboards.