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    element14's The Ben Heck Show

    Join Karen as she shares her enthusiasm for teaching STEM subjects, gives you what you need to know to get started on electronics projects, and more.

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    The Learning Circuit
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    Circuit Blocks are a great DIY beginners electronics project, more robust and durable than a simple circuit using cardboard and paper clips. It involves more complex components giving you more opportunities for fun and learning while experimenting. You'll use batteries to provide DC power or direct current. LEDs, motors, buzzers, and fans provide the load in the circuit and you will make blocks with interrupts like buttons, switches, and potentiometers. 

    Make Your Own!

    Parts & Products:


    Product Name

    UK Part No

    US Part No

    Part Link

    ConnectorsAlligator Clip Test Leads241915553W5644Buy NowBuy Now
    ConnectorsRing connectors241027027X7145Buy NowBuy Now
    ConnectorsRing connectors241335046T3743Buy NowBuy Now
    Power Source(2) AA battery pack170263116F1092Buy NowBuy Now
    Power Source(3) AA battery pack229326116F1094Buy NowBuy Now
    Power Source(4) AA battery pack165068531C0582Buy NowBuy Now
    Power Source9V battery snap453004431C0662Buy NowBuy Now
    Power Source9V battery snap165067559K0356Buy NowBuy Now
    ConnectorsStranded wire, Red, 22awg, 25ft166208133C7339Buy NowBuy Now
    ConnectorsStranded wire, Black, 22 awg, 25ft166207833C7335Buy NowBuy Now
    ConnectorsSolid-core wire, Red, 22awg, 25ft166203133C7233Buy NowBuy Now
    ConnectorsSolid-core wire, Black, 22 awg, 25ft166202733C7229Buy NowBuy Now
    LoadDC motor, 2-6V245741153W6195Buy NowBuy Now
    LoadPiezo buzzer, 3-30V241915853W5754Buy NowBuy Now
    LoadBuzzer, 3-28V165352896W6801Buy NowBuy Now
    LoadPC fan, 5VDC 40mmx20mm192485723T0587Buy NowBuy Now
    LoadPC fan, 5VDC, 50mmx10mm192485823T0589Buy NowBuy Now
    LoadPC fan, 12V DC 80mmx25mm229289471P8670Buy NowBuy Now
    LoadLED, Red, 10mm116854326M0059Buy NowBuy Now
    InterruptPushbutton Switch166190732M5410Buy NowBuy Now
    InterruptSPST Toggle Switch116419173K0924Buy NowBuy Now
    InterruptSPST Toggle Switch212812094T9282Buy NowBuy Now
    InterruptRocker Switch138394710M5262Buy NowBuy Now
    InterruptPhoto Resistor241916254W2650Buy NowBuy Now
    InterruptPhoto Resistor32770007WX4951Buy NowBuy Now
    InterruptMagnetic Reed Switch213722111R7943Buy NowBuy Now
    InterruptSlide Switch, SPST On/Off163460903P2509Buy NowBuy Now
    InterruptPIR Motion Sensor187141026T3945Buy NowBuy Now
    InterruptVibration Sensor271758999W2098Buy NowBuy Now


    Other Materials:

    Product Name

    SourceUS Part No

    WoodLocal Hardware Store
    Pop RivetsHarbor Freight


    This is a great, DIY Beginner electronics project good for elementary school levels and up. I’ve even had Pre-K children use these, but most of them still needed a little help. For our circuit blocks, we’re going to include three main types of components: power sources, loads, and interrupts.


    The power sources we’ll use will be batteries, which provide DC power or direct current power, meaning a current that flows in one direction. I recommend 2AA 3V battery packs, and maybe a 4AA 6V battery pack. You could even use a 9V battery and clip if you’d like. You’ll need to be careful with more than 3V, but I’ll explain why later.


    The load in a circuit is anything that consumes power. We’ll be using LEDs, motors, buzzers, and fans. You can also use incandescent lights from either strand holiday lights or buying sockets that hold bulbs. Ideally you’ll want components that are rated for around 3V and for DC power.


    For  motors and fans, they may be rated for more power, but try to get as low as you can near 3V. These motors and fans can handle more power, but will still work at 3V. Most LEDs are rated for 1.5-3V DC. Be careful with the LEDs. If they are fed too many volts, they’ll burn out and stop working. While that’s true for most components, LEDs tend to be less tolerant to voltages above their rating. We’ll also make blocks with interrupts, like buttons, switches, and potentiometers.