on March 2, 2007
I've been an Amazon customer for years, but this is the first time a product stood out enough for me to write a review. I bought this for my 8 yr. old daughter and I figured my 6 yr. old son could use it later.
I was very hesitant, because there aren't a lot of reviews and it's expensive.
Well, we've had it a few days and my daughter has been playing more with "Secrets of the Master Magician: An Apprentice's Manual", which I also bought at the same time (another great gift). My daughter is interested in this and it's easy for her to put things together.
My son is obsessed with it! It's similar (for him) to the Lego creatures he puts together. He needs a little help from time to time, but he can certainly follow the very well laid out diagrams. So far they've created an FM radio, a scifi noise maker, a sound detecting space noise maker thingy, a propeller that spins and flies into the air, a seven segment display, a volt meter connected to the solar cell. After connecting the solar cell, I realized my son thought the solar cell would come on like a computer screen or TV! After explaining it and putting my hand over it; now they both know what a solar cell does.
- There are 5 books of experiments.
- Each project has a nice simple color picture of how to connect all the components.
- All components are clearly marked.
- The diagrams are a top view. Since the connections are layered on top of one another 2 and 3 deep, it takes a little figuring as to what's on top and what's on bottom. It's easy for an adult. It's part of the "puzzle" for the kids. After we put a few together, they both got it.
- The pieces seem sturdy enough and snap together easily
- There is great assortment of parts to create lots and lots of very interesting projects.
- My kids love the projects. I've been very impressed.
- It has a cable that you can connect to the microphone port of a PC sound card. I haven't played with this. There is software, it looks like you can turn your PC into an oscilloscope. Looks interesting. There's a whole book for these projects. I just saw the cover, so it's likely that there's even more to it.
My kids are learning a lot with this. While they are putting things together, I can explain how these different parts work. There are lots of opportunities to take the project and modify it by replacing parts, change a light out for the speaker, etc.
For example, my son put the 7 segment LED together. I wasn't impressed. I was hoping to put together a counter, but it just connects each segment to ground to turn all the segments on. There are 750 projects, so maybe there is a counter project. Regardless, my son was fascinated. He changed all the connections manually to count from 0 to 9. He changed the main power resistor to see it go brighter with a smaller resistor and dimmer with a bigger resistor. Lots of implicit learning going on. I pointed to the microwave display and said, "See, that's how it works!"
on August 7, 2007
Despite the price tag, I bought this as a birthday gift for our highly intelligent, 10-year-old budding engineer, who was always complaining, "I'm bored." (Plus, he dismantles everything else he gets, therefore breaking it, so we thought, "Why not get him something he's supposed to tinker with?")
Within minutes of opening the box, he was snapping circuits together and creating cool experiments. Every 10 minutes or so, he returned with a new "invention" and within an hour announced, "This is the BEST GIFT EVER!!!" He still loves it and enjoys trying different configurations. For his brother's birthday celebration this weekend, he had it perform "Happy Birthday" to everyone's amusement. There seems to be no limit to its applications, and my son is excited about learning what it can do.
I cannot recommend this kit enough. You will not regret shelling out a little more cash for the 750 kit if you have a computer and want to encourage your child to use the computer for something other than playing games and surfing silly kid sites. We're sure Joey will eventually lose various pieces, but there are so many possible configurations, that won't render the product useless when it happens. Don't hesitate -- you won't be disappointed!
on August 24, 2012
I am an electrical engineer and have an electronics workbench at home. I know the minimum age for this set is 8, but the parts looked no more complicated than the puzzles my 2 year old and 4 year old put together, so I bought it so we would at least have it on hand as soon as they are ready. They are already really interested in it because it's pretty and can make music, turn on a light, and spin a motor. But this is a geometrical toy that is light-years behind the old cardboard and spring electronics toy sets if an 8 year old or older is trying to learn electronics. Search amazon for "electronic lab", "electronic playground", and "electronic project" (most made by this same manufacturer, elenco).
Compared to pre-existing systems, the Snap system requires more time, attention, and thinking power in the GEOMETRY of its difficult method of "wiring" (there's no wires) than understanding the electronic parts and how they interact. Even with the most efficient design, there can be 2 or 3 times more snap pieces for "wiring" than than the number of electronics parts. In the "classical" spring and cardboard toy electronics set, there is about one wire per part. You insert a wire into a spring that holds it in place, connected to one end of a part. With the Snap system, you can't run a wire diagonally or across other parts and sometimes you have to use button-like pieces to raise and lower the "wires" to match up with the parts. The classical system allows diagonal wiring of any length (not fixed to 1 to 4 integer units of length) and across parts.
In the old system, there is also no "searching" for parts. They stay fixed in a single place. I believe this helps conceptually in "keeping things straight".
I am afraid parents are rating this based on a false impression of how much electronics the children are learning: the time and excitement is about a pretty geometrical puzzle. That has its own value, but I do not think of this as an electronics toy set. It's a puzzle set that's hard on my fingers to snap and unsnap. Based on the extraordinarily good reviews, I had much higher hopes for the product.
If your child moves on to soldering, make sure a strong fan directs the rosin fumes out of the house even if its lead-free solder. For children its triply important not to use lead in solder (some oxides are gaseous and there is no harmless level of lead or mercury).
on January 9, 2007
I've been looking at the Snap Circuit sets for several years now and finally purchased the SC-750 for my daughters 9th birthday. I was a bit worried she was too young for it but found that was not the case. She's already built the voice recorder, FM radio and doorbell projects and had a blast playing with each of them. The projects are really simple to build (I only helped with the first one) by following the detailed instructions and well marked components. She came home yesterday, did her homework and went right to Snap Circuits and began building another project (much better than watching the TV). I look forward to using the computer interface so we can actually learn (together) about electronics. I suspect this is one of those rare toys that that will not gather dust on the shelf.
on April 4, 2010
I can't sing enough praise about this toy for the parents of any scientifically minded youngster. While the toy is costly, for sheer "educational and fun" value, I can say we've gotten more bang for our buck out of this toy than any other we've ever bought for our children. It is well worth the price. My nine year old received this toy in February, and I can say while he has played with it almost every single day since, has barely made a dent in all of the possible projects, and still can't get enough of it.
For this review, I asked my childrens' (and their father's) favorite experiments. I got more than I could include, but here's a small sample:
The Light and Sounds experiments: We loved looking at electronic signal patterns using the included oscilloscope Windows "WINSCOPE" software. My child spent two weeks experimenting with different signal patterns in any any sound from talking, laughing, or screaming into the microphone; playing music and other audio samples etc.
Salt Water Light: Electricity conduction. By submersing wires into water, we completed a power circuit and lit a light bulb. We added salt to the water and found it to be an even stronger conductor, creating a brighter light.
This toy isn't limited to huge number of projects outlined in the experiment book. If your child is creative, the potential of this toy is a happy thing.
We created our own variation of the Salt Water Light by wetting our hands with salt water and clasping hands while holding the wires, thus using our bodies to create and complete the circuit. Since the power source was double A batteries, this was a safe variation, though clearly you wouldn't want to try any un-approved power sources for this toy for obvious safety reasons. (IE: Don't plug it into a wall socket if you'd like to keep your hair or brain.)
Another example was a modification of the simple "On/Off" project from the Snap Circuits. My nine year old likes Legos and K'nex building toys. He put together a motorized K'nex car. Using the Snap Circuits, he created a bypass of the K'nex motor's original on/off switch so that he could turn the motor on using the Snap Circuit mechanism. He wants to expand on this using the solar panel included in the Snap Circuits to see if he can then make the K'nex car solar powered.
On the downside, while this toy is remarkably sturdy for something with so many parts and delicate electronic components, it isn't indestructible, and can't handle a lot of hard play. We've broken one of the capacitors so far. You can order replacement parts from the company, though since we haven't done this yet I can't offer a review of the process.
My one complaint is storage. We have kept the original box with its form fitted plastic insert to hold the parts snugly in place, but the box is not designed for real storage and transport. My son keeps it out and open on his dresser. You can purchase a specially designed carry case for between $30-50 dollars. I might consider that for his next birthday present, but it's pricy enough that it isn't an afterthought purchase in the least. I'm sure other people could offer better and cheaper creative storage suggestions, but we haven't looked into it yet.
On the whole, this is a superior toy. We were and are still very satisfied with this purchase.
on December 2, 2014
I was expecting more instruction, not plug this in and it does XYZ. I was looking for something to teach my kid electronics, and explain how not only the components work, but how the circuit you created works. I was expecting something similar to the old Radio 160 in One electronics project kits. I still have mine, and had to go through it's basic instructions with my son. Also, some of the components in this set, like the ICs, don't have any documentation or pin outs. How are you supposed to come up with your on uses?
on April 9, 2010
What a fun product. I have been toying with getting this for almost a year. My eight year old step-son is a math an computer wizard and and is always looking for ways to challenge himself. The easy setup of this system is to be commended.
As an engineer who works with this stuff everyday I have a few issues. There really is no documentation on how it is made. Do these pieces have built in protection so that the magic smoke stays in? If there are short circuits (not that it ever happens :)...) what happens?
Overall, I see hours of fun and adventure for a very active mind. I also look forward to doing something with him which we can share.
on January 17, 2015
Its was a tough call how I should rate this as it really is an excellent kit ! So why only three stars ? I purchased this for my 12 year old daughter after she was getting excited about some basic electronics they were doing at school. The kit includes project books with instructions for all of the lower level kits, but they are not at all educational. If you follow the instructions, you are learning to clip parts together, much like Lego, with no explanation of how they work or why you are using the various components. Fortunately, I was able to explain everything to her, but I am quite familiar with the subject. I expect many parents would struggle to explain.
I strongly believe that this is a powerful educational product which has has the educational component removed !!!
There is an additional book that they sell to explain these circuits. It appears that it is not available on amazon, but has its own reviews.
I would have purchased this at the time if I knew it was not included. They should make it very clear that this is available and required to learn anything about the circuits that you are building.
I also purchased the additional power supply for this.
Sorry, one more complaint. I think the IC modules in these circuits are over used in the early circuits, taking away from the fundamentals. Maybe I would feel differently if they were clearly explained.
On the positive side... this kit is awesome the way the parts clip together as quick and easily as Lego. I had a different set as a kid which had threaded legs on the components. You would pass them through a PCB and put a nut on the other side. What took me half an hour to assemble takes only a couple of minutes with this set, so there is much less chance of kids loosing patients due to the assembly process.
Would I buy it again ? Yes, but with the book.
on May 6, 2013
Don't get me wrong. This is a fun kit and my kid loves it. However, it never really explains what is being built. For example, we've made dozens of the circuits in the kit, and we've never learned just how a resistor works, or how to determine which one would be appropriate in a self-designed circuit. And, the objectives listed in the manual are redundant, usually simply restating the title of the project--I'm not quoting here, but something along the lines of Project Name: Light Controlled Switch. Goal: To build a switch that is controlled with light.
So, the potential is there for a great educational toy, but the Snap Circuits kit, as it exists, doesn't offer real knowledge.
on February 25, 2012
I'm a 48 year old engineer - learned a lot about electronics in college - and I bought this "toy" for myself. Why? Because it looks so cool! And putting things together like this and seeing how they work...it's intriguing. And satisfying. So first off, The packaging and componentry is great. Everything has a recessed component in the plastic trays. The components themselves are sturdy. These components are going to stand up to being dropped. But don't throw them all into a bag to save space. Keep the trays, and put things back after each build.
The builds are clearly specified and following the instructions has (so far) been pretty simple. You really build circuits that look a lot like the circuits from my textbooks. Everything is straight lines and the snap-together nature of it all leaves it quite clear how electricity is flowing.
If I have any complaint at all about this set, it is the non-linear nature of the projects. Yes, they start simple, but project #3 already includes the music Integrated Circuit that uses 4 of its 5 connections, and I just don't see how it can be clear to a young mind how electricity is flowing in and out of that black box. I don't quite understand it myself.
So - as a teaching aide, with adult supervision and supplemental instruction on the concepts - this is a 5-star educational tool. As a "toy" that is going to teach your kid everything about electronics? It WILL teach him things, but I'm unconvinced that the order of the projects is really well suited towards gradually introducing circuit concepts.
On the other hand, the project "payoff" is rewarding, and communicates plenty of important concepts quite well - especially about the individual components. A child already leaning in this direction is going to love this kit.
This is high quality, durable, educational and satisfying stuff. You won't be disappointed with quality of any of these sets, I suspect. And I'm bad with batteries, so I got the power supply gadget too. I'll write that review too, but if you are averse to batteries like me, its a good purchase too.
If you're reading my review, you're already considering this purchase. You have a lot of options about which level of kit to buy. But you're already leaning this way - go ahead and buy one of them. You can always buy more of it if you don't buy the big kit right off. Very clever of them to offer all of this with that kind of upgrade strategy. The 100-level kit is going to keep a kid busy for weeks. On the other hand, the big kit is pretty affordable. And some of those advanced projects look REALLY intriguing. I just can't review them because I'm not there yet. But I will be, eventually - its a very serious, engaging tour of circuitry science. Even if your kid loses interest, maybe you will want to play with it. (I don't even have kids, but I work a project or two after work just to ... decompress, ya know?)