My initial idea and attempt.

A project log for Electruzzles

Little boxes that snap together and make circuits. An excellent way for kids to explore and understand electronics.

John DanielsJohn Daniels 08/14/2021 at 06:450 Comments

My idea is to make a puzzle like game that involves putting different boxes down in a circuit. I'll have some active boxes (sensors, LEDs, etc), but most will be passive boxes (like traces on a PCB). My first thought was to use magnets to hold things together, and (at least for the time being) screws to make the electrical connections. One screw would be recessed and the other spring loaded.

I thought I had enough to go on and started designing some boxes in OpenSCAD. At the same time I started looking for the mini neodymium magnets I've used before from the dollar store. I couldn't find the mini size that I wanted, but I found a smallish medium size. I figured, more magnet, more pull. So I first started a design with a central magnet and a left sided input for each face of the box that would be a connection interface. I used some screws and nuts that I have from old projects on these first few boxes to figure out tolerances and dimensions, as well as determine the feasibility of the entire project.

My initial attempt was a partial success. I got a connection when the hardware was installed, but the magnet couldn't quite pull strong enough to make the boxes fit together flush. I figured this meant the connection wouldn't be great, so something needed to be done. Time to search for different magnets...

Here are a couple of photos of my first prototypes without the screws installed. Notice the extremely thin walls on the magnet holder on one box. That was the first I printed. Each of these three are slightly different as I was still dialing things in.  This style of box was abandoned after these 3 prints.

More of the story to come soon. Once I catch up to where I am now on the project, I'll switch over to more update-like posts.