Category Archives: Electronics

Paper Circuits roundup at MakerBlock

toner - 15

MakerBlock is exploring paper circuits, and has published a roundup of articles, including our Single Sided Circuit Board, Electric Origami, and Edge-Lit cards.

While I’m a big fan of paper and circuits, I’ve never really given paper circuits/circuitry a shot.  Unfortunately, I have no good excuse for this.  (Fair warning:  I’ve been collecting links and ideas on this topic for several weeks now, and even though I intend to break up the post into more manageable chunks, I have a feeling this is going to be a doozy) …


Introducing the MOnSter 6502

MOnSter 6502 PCB

Our collaborator Eric Schlaepfer has been extremely hard at work this year, designing a truly monstrous follow up to our giant-scale dis-integrated 555 and 741 circuits. This is the MOnSter 6502: a transistor-scale replica of the famous MOS 6502 microprocessor, the processor found at the heart of influential early computer systems such as the Apple ][ and the Commodore PET.

It is huge, at 12 × 15 inches, with over 4000 surface mount components, and 167 indicator LEDs added throughout so that you can see the flow of data.

MOnSter 6502

This is a new project, still underway. We will be showing off the first prototype of the MOnSter 6502 at the Bay Area Maker Faire this coming weekend. We don’t promise that it will be completely working by then — this is a first stab at an extremely ambitious project — but we’re genuinely excited to show it off in this early stage.

Decode ROM

You can read more about the MOnSter 6502 on its main project page,, and at Eric’s blog,

(Before you ask, the MOnSter 6502 is not yet a kit or product that we’re selling. Right now, it’s an amazing thing that we’re trying to build. If you would like to stay in the loop as this project evolves, we’ve set up a special mailing list for updates.)

Circuit Classics

We’re very excited about the Circuit Classics PCBs and kits that Star Simpson is making based on Forrest Mims designs.

Each circuit depicts an original, traced and hand-drawn schematic created by Forrest Mims for his iconic books “Getting Started in Electronics”, and the “Engineers’ Notebook” series. Every board includes a description of how it works, in Mims’ handwriting, on the reverse side.

They look like a fantastic way to learn electronics. You can order them through her Crowd Supply campaign now.

From the mailbag: XL741 in the classroom

S.W. wrote in:

I just wanted to let you know that I am using your XL741 kit in my Electronics 2 class lab. It is a high quality kit and I thank you for putting it together. We build the 741 in stages, make measurements, adjust offsets, etc. It is a great vehicle to teach the analog building blocks. A student of mine (now graduated) and I wrote four lab exercises for it and they are being used now for the second time. We also just got to share them with several EE teachers who were also very enthusiastic about the idea.

We love to hear about how our kits get used!

555 Teardown

Ken Shirriff has posted a teardown of the beloved 555 timer IC. He sawed the top of a metal can packaged 555 to expose the die underneath.

On top of the silicon, a thin layer of metal connects different parts of the chip. … Under the metal, a thin, glassy silicon dioxide layer provides insulation between the metal and the silicon, except where contact holes in the silicon dioxide allow the metal to connect to the silicon. At the edge of the chip, thin wires connect the metal pads to the chip’s external pins.

He goes on to explain how it works and its cultural significance. He even mentions our discrete 555 and 555 footstool in the footnotes.

From the mailbag: Bristlebots and Scribblebots

Kate K.'s Bristlebot bug (Courtesy of Jessica K.)

Jessica K. wrote in:

A few years ago I used your bristlebot design for one of my kid’s classes as a project and it was such a success I’ve done it for each kid (I have 4).

Kate K's Bristlebot Ladybug bottom (Courtesy of Jessica K.)

We also made made “pontoon” versions of your bristlebots with 2 toothbrush ends underneath a cardboard oval so it looked like a beetle and gave the kids more decorating space.

Scribblebot parts (Courtesy of Jessica K.)

Well, now I needed a new project and I came up with the easiest, cheapest Scribblebot I’ve come across, using mostly your bristlebot construction.

Kate K.'s Dixie Scribblebot (Courtesy of Jessica K.)

The big discovery is that a Dixie cup plus mini markers keeps the whole thing so lightweight. Then put your foam taped pager motor and battery combo on top. It was also way cuter with some antennae and googley eyes. Thank you again for your great bristlebot – it’s made me the most popular mom in each of my kids’ classes.

The bots shown were made by her daughter Kate who also demonstrates them in the video clips. Thank you Kate & Jessica!

Epic Cylon costume with Larson Scanner

By Warren Goodwin

Warren wrote in on Facebook:

I just received your Larson scanner for my Foam Cylon helmet today … I have since this video diffused the light inside the clear conduit pipe the LEDS are held inside of to make the LED effect a bit more smoother.

He has been posting updates of the costume on facebook.

Cylon costume with Larson Scanner eye
By Warren Goodwin