LittleBits Little Lathe

LittleBits Lathe

Do you need a practical, useful and fun project for a young hacker who is under your wing? How about letting them get a bit of electronics experience snapping together a LittleBits little lathe to customize their crayons. Truthfully, this isn’t much of an electronics hack, but it does make fun use of a LittleBits motor module and all those old crayons you might have lying around. You could make this a weekend project to share with the kids, plus you never know what will spark that first interest in a young engineer.

If you’re unfamiliar with LittleBits, they are small electronic modules that magnetically snap together to build larger circuits. The modules are color-coded by functionality with non-reversible magnetic connectors to help the little ones understand how to connect and integrate the modules. These LittleBits kits are great for the young beginner in electronics or just for fun at any age. Individually, the modules are quite expensive, but the parts are well worth the price because children will find the system intuitive to use and the modules are robust in the hands of careless kids. A more cost-effective purchase would be one of the kits from Adafruit.com.

In this Instructable, [maxnoble440] demonstrates the little lathe turning a crayon using a variety of tools from the very sharp to the “safe for all ages.” The geared LittleBits motor turns slowly and appears to have enough torque to carve crayons—and possibly clay—packed around a small dowel. To build this project you will need a “little bit” of wood-crafting skill to construct the mini-lathe bed. All the instructions are available in the Instructable as well as a short video, which you can watch after the break below.

Comments

  1. Hack Man says:
  2. r4k says:

    You know something is truly expensive when adafruit is a more cost effective purchasing option…

  3. JRDM says:

    DC Motor block, $20, DC power block, $8, battery + cable kit, $5. Even building from parts bought at Radio Shack is much cheaper.

  4. peter says:

    My brother and I used to build crayon lathes out of Lego. Ah, the memories… and messiness.

  5. Protolamer says:

    Yeah wow. Lucky that he used LittleBits with color-coded non-reversible magnetic connectors, think of the horrors if he had reversed the polarity on that switch or motor.

  6. RunnerPack says:

    I found the Eagle PCB files: https://github.com/littlebitselectronics/eagle-files

    Anyone know where to find 3D models (or even high-res photos) of the magnetic connectors? I guess one could get the $30 (!) “teaser” kit and make compatible connectors (thanks to HaD’s slew of 3D-modeling tuts!).

  7. AC says:

    I totally built a power drill lathe when I was a kid. That mostly worked and wasn’t even that dangerous.
    Now the table saw I built out of a circular saw screwed upside down to a piece of plywood with a slot cut in it…. That one was dangerous. Especially when it bound up :)

  8. volt says:

    Has anyone else noticed the great opportunity to cut your finger at 1:15? That’s NOT how you’re supposed to use a knife, especially a sharp one.

  9. ian mcmill says:

    Damit !!! I don’t have a LittleBits motor module. *Sad Panda*.

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