Gakken EX-150 Experimenter's Kit Available In the USA
By James Grahame
Japanese manufacturer Gakken introduced their tremendously cool Denshi Burokku EX (Electric Blocks) product line in 1976, based upon Denshi's clever modular system. Each little plastic block contained a transistor, resistor or other electronic part that could be clipped together like a puzzle to build a working electronic circuit. It was a great way to explore the world of discrete electronics without having to muck around with wires, solder, and fragile components.
The original series was discontinued in 1986 and seemed destined to become a much-loved classic. Luckily, it was popular enough that a modernized version of the old EX-150 was released in 2002 as part of Gakken's Otona No Kagaku 'Advanced Science Kits for Adults' series. It even spawned an expansion kit that included a 555 timer IC and several other nifty add-ons.
The EX-150 is now available in the USA from the Maker Shed, a quicker and less expensive option than ordering from Japan. The kit includes instructions for 150 different projects. The text is Japanese only, but there are illustrations of each project to help you put them together, although the final result may come as a complete surprise. The projects include several radios, a lie detector, motorcycle and gun sound effects, wireless microphone and a variety of logic circuits [AND, OR, NOT, NAND and NOR].