To get into the back-to-school spirit, we thought it would be fun to check out some of the educational toys on the market. One of our favorites is littleBits, which is a bit like LEGOs for electronics. Just snap together the magnetic “bits” to build different circuits, and you can come up with just about anything you want! We bought all the bits, literally, and had tons of fun playing and inventing with them.

ISL_littlebits_collage

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One the best things about littleBits is that it’s open-source, which means anyone can see the technical design files and even create their own new bits. While we were playing, we kept track of ideas for new bits we wish we had. Then we picked a couple of our best ideas and made them!

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isl1: Analog Inverter

There’s already a digital inverter, which can take a logic (“on/off”) signal and flip it, but it doesn’t work too well with analog signals. Try to use the digital inverter to invert a slider or a light sensor and things get weird, but it works great with the Analog Inverter. For an added bonus, our Analog Inverter still works with digital signals!

Inverse GIF

isl2: Gain

Sometimes you’ve got a signal, but it just isn’t big enough to be useful. With the adjustable knob on our Gain bit, you can make that signal up to 5x as big. Chain more than one Gain bits together for 25x, 125x…you get it.

Gain GIF 1

isl3: Valve

Buttons and switches sometimes pass and sometimes block signals, but for a button to work you have to physically push it. Our Valve bit also passes or blocks a signal, but you don’t have to push it! Instead, it opens and closes based on a digital control signal from somewhere else in your circuit.

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Don’t forget to head over to the gitHub repository for this project to see the open-source designs for isl1, isl2, and isl3. 

Have any cool application ideas for our new bits? Thoughts on even newer, even better bits we should make next? We’d love to hear from you — @istrategylabs

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