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  • What Else Can I do With Elenco Snap Circuits?

    You’ve mastered the Elenco Snap Circuits 300 and the SC-500. The SC-750 is no longer challenging enough. You’ve done light shows with the SCL-175 and you’ve built the SCROV-50 with the launcher and aren’t sure what else to do. With those kits you’ve learned a lot SCROV-50 Snap Circuits roverfundamentals of electricity, it’s time to start using those skills to start making custom builds with your Elenco Snap Circuits. Snap Circuits teach you the basics of schematics and circuits, and once you’ve learned those basics, you’re well on the way to understanding how to designing your own circuits. To help kickstart your imagination though, a number of people online have shared some amazing hacks and custom builds using Elenco Snap Circuits.

    One interesting observation someone had was that Elenco has no real robotic builds for their kits aside from the SCROV Rover and the PICAXE microcontroller, both of which can be used together. This Instructable outlines which parts from the Rover and Snap Circuits kits you will need, as well non-Snap Circuit pieces. They also walk you through how to install PICAXE and how to configure it. Turning your Rover into a programmable robot is just a first step as once you learn the concepts there, perhaps you can program the robot to do other things.Elenco Snap Circuits custom design internet radio

    Just like using real circuits and electronic components will allow you to build many, many things, so too are the projects you can do with Snap Circuits. One creative parent used Snap Circuits to activate a train crossing arm that activated when it sensed liquid. You guessed it, this was a great help in potty training. Another great hack is a set up that uses laser beams with Snap Circuits to create a room alarm. There’s also an entire list of projects that pave the road to endless possibilities. You can make an Internet music player, a countdown launcher for the kid that likes to count down to blast off, a door alarm and quite a bit more.

    Elenco Snap Circuits are one of the best educational STEM toys on the market. They not only are great for building exercises, but they teach a lot about real things about electricity. They can open up a whole new world of creativity and discovery and we’d love to see some of your original creations. Please make sure to share them with us on Facebook or Instagram and please make sure to leave us product reviews for your favorites!

  • Where Can I Buy Cheap Tools?

    Everyone wants the best possible tool for the lowest possible price. With tools, this can be a double edged sword, you can buy cheap tools, but they just won’t last. Yeah, you might get the job done, but your tool may not be in condition to do much else after the fact. So in the long run, it might pay to invest in a higher quality tool, even though it may be a little bit more of an initial cost. Even with that being the case, this article gives some great tips on how to save money when you buy tools.

    Wiha 32199 insulated workstation 30 piece setOne of the easiest ways to save some money on tools is to buy them in combo sets, something we have recommended in many previous blogs. All of the manufacturers that we sell make a huge selection of not only single tools, but also combo sets. Wiha in particular has so many different sets that you could easily assemble a pretty good collection of tools with a reasonably small investment. Often these combo sets are cheaper than grabbing the tools a la carte. One example where this would pay off is with the Wiha 32199 Insulated Drivers set which is a30 piece set. Altogether the average price per piece is about $8, but buying them all individually would could cost anywhere from about $7 to $15 depending on the piece. Klein Tools 80028 is a 28 piece set for $330, but the bag it comes with is about $65, one set of long nose pliers is around $25, the lineman pliers are around $45 and the pump pliers are not far off from $50. With just the bag and three tools you’re already at more than half the cost of the entire set. This can also apply to smaller items too. Individual bits can be a few bucks a piece, but buying them in larger sets will get you more bits for less money. You don’t have to be a mathematician to see why combo sets pay for themselves, especially if you’re trying to stock your toolbox.

    Wera 05006145001 VDE Insulated setAnother way you can save money is by sticking with a specific brand. It’s not just a loyalty thing, it makes a certain amount of sense. If you buy a Wera tool you may find yourself wondering if it will be compatible with a Klein part. Buying all the same brand kind of removes that question. It also makes sense to stick with a brand because if you buy the combo sets, you may get all the same brand anyways. We carry several high quality brands and we are always looking to expand that. You’ll find Klein, Felo, Wera, Wiha, Platinum Tools, Gedore, Bondhus and you never know who else. The article also points out that once you’re familiar with a brand, you’ll be most likely to stick with it because you know it.

    The last piece of advice we’ll borrow is to basically keep an eye out for deals. Keep an eye out for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, but we also run promos and sales periodically throughout the year. If there’s no urgency, with a little bit of patience you can get yourself some good deals on the world’s highest quality tools.

    At EIO.com we have a huge selection of tools and many of them are at bargain prices and/or they come with free shipping. You’ll save a great deal of money on the best tools by shopping with us. We’ love to hear from you about how much money you saved and what your favorite tools are, so be sure to leave us product reviews for your favorites and tell us about your favorite on Facebook or Instagram!

  • A Brief Look at Hosa Cables

    California-based cable manufacturer, Hosa Technology has become one of the more recognized brands for professional musicians. They make pretty much everything musicians need to get the right audio setup for a show, and then some. Although they make a lot of stuff, some of their most well-known products are microphone cables, guitar and guitar patch cables, breakout cables, patch cables, Y-cables, insert cables, and many, many more.

    Microphone cables come in many different types and sizes and we carry Hosa’s full catalog, so you’ll be able to find it all here. They all have different features too, Hosa’s CMI-110 and the CMI-125 Quad Mic cables for example use XLR connectors to reduce strain and are designed to reduce EM interference. The CYX-405F is made to connect 2 mics to a mini stereo input and they come in 1, 2 or 5 foot lengths. Beyond these few examples, there are dozens of other mic cables for just about any need.

    Next to mic cables, guitar cables are probably the next popular, if not the most popular thing on the list. The CGK-005 and, others like it in different sizes, use Neutrik plugs guaranteeing the best possible tone. Hosa’s GTR-518R tweed guitar cable features a straight to right angle connection, and may suit certain situations better than other types. We also have a few different sorts of guitar patch cables. The CFS-106 is a standard type cable and the CPE-118 has metal components, these are both singles, but if you need them in multi-paks you can try the CPE-411 or the CPE-606. They may all vary slightly in functionality, so be sure to analyze which cables do what before making your final choice.

    Another important item are patch cables. There are endless types of those, from the guitar patches to unbalanced patches and balanced patches and more. You can grab some good deals on Hosa patch cables like the CMM-500Y-MIX Hopscotch Patch 5 piece set. There’s also good deals on other patch cables, like the CMM-830 Unbalanced and the CSS-845 Balanced patch cables. This is another one of those situations where the choices are somewhat overwhelming so for patches and any other type of cable, you use Hosa’s cable finder to help you find the right piece, then come order some from us.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg for what Hosa makes and we hope to get more in-depth about the cables that Hosa makes and what they do. We carry Hosa’s complete line, so if you don’t see a specific cable, let us know and we can get it or make a listing for it. Whether you need some simple patch cables or you need do an entire DJ setup or ear monitoring rig, we can get it to you. We’d love to hear from you about your Hosa experiences, so please make sure to leave us product reviews for your favorites and tell us about your favorite on Facebook or Instagram!

  • Exploring Microscopes and Optical Science

    How do lenses and cameras work? Why is there color? What do things look like up close? What is an Ames Room? What’s inside a drop of water? These are all questions that kids probably have, and many of us parents don’t have a ready answer for. Never fear! We have some STEM toys that can help you answer the unanswerable!

    Thames & Kosmos 665005 Optical Science To start your voyage of curiosity, we recommend the Thames & Kosmos 665005 Optical Science kit. This kit looks incredibly fun, you and your children will learn about the color spectrum, build a camera obscura and try out 3D glasses. The camera obscura is a fun one as it uses a pinhole to help project an image onto another surface. Another fun project in this kit is an experiment with depth perception that involves an Ames Room. An Ames Room is basically a room with a wall that’s at an angle which allows one to use forced perspective to make something on one side of the room look larger or smaller than a thing on the other side. You will of course also learn about lenses and light refraction, and how that works to make objects look closer. These are just a few of the exciting science projects in this kit, and since it involves a lot of hands on and some fun tricks, it’s sure to be a hit.

    Speaking of lenses and viewing things up close, what kid doesn’t like having a closer look at the world around them? A microscope, of course, is the way to go. But if you’re not sure of your son or daughter’s interest, you can get a beginner’s level microscope for under $10 with the Elenco EDU-41003. This microscope is very basic and uses a mirror to light the specimen under examination. This one includes one prepared slide and three blank ones, and it also emphasizes proper care of the lens, so if they enjoy it and take good care of it, you might want to reward them with the EDU-41002. The EDU-41002 includes quite a bit more with it, including:  extra slides, collecting vials and various tools. It also lights up, which is a nice feature to have. Elenco die-cast microscopeProbably the best microscope to get though is the EDU-41009. It’s a much sturdier, die-cast construction and it also lights up. It also includes six prepared slides for ready viewing in addition to blank slides for anything your kids collect and want to look at. The EDU-41009 also includes a number of tools as well as a micro hatchery for shrimp. Any of these microscopes would benefit from Elenco’s EDU-36729 slide set which contains 36 assorted specimens which include algae, fungi, bug parts and much more.

    Whether your child has a casual interest or is on fire to learn more about microscopes or optical science, there’s a little something here for everyone. We’d love to hear your thoughts and about the science adventures you and your kids have, so make sure to leave us product reviews for your favorites and tell us about your favorite on Facebook or Instagram!

  • Wera Wednesday – Wera Rapidaptor and More

    One of the coolest and most innovative things that Wera has made, and there have been a lot, is the Rapidaptor. The Rapidaptor is a handy little add on that Wera designed to basically help add some stability when screwing things in with a drill or a driver. You hold it with one hand to stabilize and then use the other to do the work. The Rapidaptor also is an easy-in, easy-out bit holder that makes changing bits easy while also holding them securely. You can read all about its functions here. It’s an excellent piece of engineering, and really a game changer for tool users, even for home use.

    Wera Rapidaptor bit holderIf you’re looking to add this awesome piece of hardware to your toolbox, or you want someone to add it to your toolbox for Christmas, there’s an alarming number of options to get started. Probably the most basic option is the Wera 05052500001 Rapidaptor and the Wera 05052502001 which are the most basic ones available. The second of the two holds the bits in magnetically. This is pretty much the standard Rapidaptor that allows you to put a bit in with no effort and allows you to remove the bit with just a small push forward. This would be great for any drill or bit holding screwdriver.

    You can also get the basic Rapidaptor on a T-Handle. This option gives you not only a comfortable grip, but also the option to provide more torque with the strength of your forearm. You can also get it on Wera’s signature screwdriver handle with the Wera 05051462001. The screwdriver features a strong magnet which helps with holding the bits. If you need a bit of a longer reach, you try the Wera 05052503001 or the Wera 05052504001 both of which hold the bits in magnetically.

    Speaking of magnetic holders, there are a couple options for that. You can get a pretty standard Rapidaptor with the Wera 05052490001, and the Wera 05160988001 each with a ring magnet to help hold the screws in place. This is a great feature if you are trying to drill screws in to the wall as it eliminates the frustration of continually dropping screws.Wera Rapidaptor bit holder magnet ring

    If you want a little more with your rapidaptor, you can get the Wera 05056440001 or the Wera 05057431001 both of which are sets of 29 bits with a standard Rapidaptor. The 05057431001 is a slightly better investment as the bits are coated with diamond particles to ensure strength and a secure fit. Should you want additional bits for use with you Rapidaptor, you can check our listings here.

    We hope you find a Rapidaptor that works for you, it’s a great add on to any tool collection whether you use Wera or not. Please make sure to leave us product reviews for your favorites and tell us about your favorite on Facebook or Instagram!

  • Make Some Science Monday – Thames & Kosmos Science Kits

    We’ve highlighted science and STEM toys, as well as some made by Thames & Kosmos quite a few times here, and since they make so many great learning toys, we thought it was a good time to highlight a few more. Today’s focus will be a look at a few “all-arounders” that do a good job of laying some foundations of the science fundamentals.

    Thames & Kosmos 631116 Elements of science To start with, Thames & Kosmos 631116 Elements of Science (a tie-in with National Geographic) contains 100 different experiments that teach about biology, chemistry and physics. The experiments are broken down into 15 different chapters that cover: air and water, sound, magnetism, light, plants, animals, the human body and various chemical experiments. You should also note, there is a list of items that you will need that are not included in the set, but most of these are things you would probably have around the house. This set is ideal for girls and boys 10 years old or older and will help them learn probably more science than they would in school. At the very least, it will encourage them to be curious and try learning science on their own or with a small group.

    Another exciting set is solely based on chemistry and ties into the best-selling book “The Dangerous Book for Boys.” While the book deals with tree houses, paper airplanes, fishing and other traditional “boy” activities, the science kit has quite a few experiments that boys may find entertaining. Some of the projects include making slime, smoke bombs and stink bombs. Although directed at boys, there may be girls as well who would be interested in this kit.

    If your girl is a bit more traditional though, she’ll probably be more interested in the Thames & Kosmos 646517 Perfume Science kit. This kit will train your budding perfumer in the biology of smell and the chemistry of scents while also teaching the history of perfume. The best part is that this set basically has everything a real perfumer lab would have. This kit may be the first step to developing a career in scent making, the lessons it teaches and the tools it includes will be used by people in the business.

    Thames & Kosmos 665001 Pyramid digLastly, branching out from the three main fields of scientific study, the Thames & Kosmos 665001 Pyramid Dig drives home some lessons about archaeology, specific to Egypt of course. This set will excite curious youngsters as the learn about hieroglyphics and use that knowledge to unlock the mysteries of the pyramid. They will also use the tools of an archaeologist to discover artifacts and learn the best practices of how to excavate a find. Once the digging activities are done, the pyramid and the cutaway showing inside a pyramid become a decoration.

    Make sure to grab whichever of these is the best fit for your kids and help them discover an entire world of science. We would also love it if you left us product reviews for your favorites and tell us about your favorite on Facebook or Instagram!

  • Toy Thursday - Elenco Snap Circuits Student Programs and Manuals

    It’s pretty obvious that Elenco Snap Circuits are not only a fun toy to play with, but also really great for kids to learn from as well. But as fun and educational as these sets are, they’re really only half of the equation. To get the most out of a given Snap Circuits set, the best thing to do is take advantage of the student training program kits and the student/ teacher manuals. Whether used in the home or as part of a school project, these extras will really help drive the concepts home.

    If you’re just starting out and don’t have any sets at all, the best way to get started is with the Student Training Programs. Elenco has put their standard Snap Circuits together with nice storage cases as well as helpful manuals and guides.

    SC-500R Elenco Snap Circuits Student ProgramThe most basic set is the SC-100R contains more than 30 parts for building more than 100 experiments. This set includes a student guide and operates on 2x AA batteries and is probably best suited for younger children. The SC-300R on the other hand is a bit meatier and may be probably the best entry point if your child is older in that it has a lot more experiments to do and includes more parts. The SC-300R includes two project books and a student guide. Lastly, the SC-500R and the SC-750R are a little more involved in that they have more experiments and longer manuals, but they also include some real world applications and problem solving quizzes. All of these sets do come in a nice case and they include plenty of instructional materials to really get the basic concepts of electricity down. As the lessons progress, they get more challenging and teach more and more complex ideas. Each kit also teaches about resistors, capacitors, transistors, series circuits and more. As always, the kits would benefit from the ACSNAP battery eliminator to save money on batteries.

    Elenco SC-300R ManualIf you already own some Snap Circuits and are somewhat lost, or you maybe have lost your student materials, don’t worry, you can buy the Elenco 753307 Student Guide which covers lessons for the SC-300R to the SC-750R and they come in full color. The TG-300 teacher’s guide covers all of the Student programs and comes in full color as well. The key thing to note is that the teacher’s guide is to help prepare the teacher to administer the lessons for the various kits and acts as a supplement to the lessons in the student programs and the manuals. The TG-300 includes 200 color pages of student manuals and the teacher’s guide. Similarly, the TG-500 Teacher’s Pak includes a teacher’s guide and student manuals, again in full color. These manuals and student guides are great companions to each other and the main kits. It really is the best way to help your kids learn, whether it be for fun, homeschooling or as an in school group activity.

    As a side note, we’ve had great success with the SC-500R, in February of 2018, EIO.com donated several of the kits and teaching materials to a local school. The kids not only had a blast, they learned a lot too.

    Have you used any of these? We’d love to hear from you! Make sure to leave us product reviews for your favorites and tell us about your favorite on Facebook or Instagram!

  • Wera Wednesday – Vario Handle

    Wera has been one of the most innovative tool companies in that they find interesting ways to innovate tools that have gone largely unchanged for decades. One of their biggest innovations, and one that they’ve applied to a large portion of their product line, is the unique and ergonomic handle. This handle is seen on ratchets, screwdrivers and more. The handle does make a huge world of difference, it truly feels natural in the hand and as a result can give you a better grip and more torque with less effort. At the time of this blog, we carry two versions of just the Wera handle as part of the Vario system which works with interchangeable blades.

    The standard Vario Handle is pretty much a no frills handle that can be connected to any of the Vario blades. There are quite a few options, one of the most useful would the Wera 05002923001 which is double sided with a Phillips and a slotted head. They also have a combination Pozidrive/Phillips blade that would also be quite useful.Wera Vario Ratchet handle

    The Wera 05002901001 Ratchet Screwdriver will also help with jobs where you want the handle to lock while you’re turning the screw. This feature would definitely allow more control and help with accuracy in adjusting screws. While this would be a great tool for any of the Vario blades, it might be especially helpful with the Wera 05040001001 Socket adaptor and the 05051835001 Bit Holder Adaptor.

    Wera Vario Combination setLastly, the Wera 05002990001 Vario set is probably the most cost effective way to get your hands on the handle and some blades, not to mention a nice storage case. This set comers with the standard Vario handle and 10 different combination blades. The set includes blades for slotter, Phillips, Pozidriv, Torx and Hex. Definitely a super affordable way to stock up.

    Have you used this tool before? Make sure to leave us product reviews for your favorites and tell us about your favorite on Facebook or Instagram!

  • Tool Tuesday – Pro’s Kit/Eclipse Tool Kits

    If you do any amount of amateur or even professional computer and small electronics repair, you’ll need some good tools to do it with. Even better if you can get these tools on a budget. Pro’s Kit, also known as Eclipse makes great tools that come at an affordable price. Even better, they make some of these in kits that tailored for a specific task taking all of the guesswork out of finding the right tools.

    To start with, if you do any repair of Apple products, the Eclipse SD-9326M Apple Products repair kit is the perfect thing. Apple uses a lot of proprietary pieces such as various pentalobe screwdrivers. This set includes many different pentalobe bits to get you into any Apple device. The set also includes tools to help you to carefully pry open the device and pieces to help take components out. Absolutely a great and affordable set for any Apple user. You can see a video of it here.

    Another great kit with many practical uses is the Pro’s Kit 500-003 Computer Service Kit. The kit comes with tools that you would expect, like pliers, screwdrivers, tweezers, etc., but also comes with a soldering iron, solder, desoldering pump and a heat sink, all in anice zip-up case. The Pro’s Kit 500-016 Student’s basic tool kit is similar to the Computer Service kit, including screwdrivers, soldering/desoldering equipment, but carries a wider variety of pliers. Either one is a great kit for anyone doing work on PC hardware.

    Last but not least, the Pro’s Kit 1PK-1990A Jumbo Tool Kit is aptly named, in that it contains a huge selection of tools. From various types of pliers, socket sets, flashlight, combination wrenches and more. The set also comes in a durable case  for easy carrying and convenient storage. You can see a video review of it here.

    All of these sets have their uses, so make sure to leave us product reviews for your favorites and tell us about your favorite on Facebook or Instagram!

  • Foldable Rulers

    Most of us are familiar with tape measures and probably have one or more lying around the house. Many contractors and workman also probably have the same situation going on, however, there are plenty of people who probably use a folding ruler in addition to or even instead of a tape measure.

    wiha foldable rulerFolding rulers are great for measuring small and large spaces or objects, they can also be used to measure something that is difficult to reach once they are fully extended. In this feature, they have an advantage over tape measures in that they won’t collapse if extended past a certain point. Folding rulers also can help measure angles large structures when the rule is lined up with features of a building, they can also be used to draw parallel lines. There are probably many other uses, so we’d love to hear from you in the product reviews.

    Folding rulers can be made of a variety of materials from wood, metal or any number of different composites. Klein tools has two different wood folding rulers the Klein Tools 905-6 Wood Folding Rule with extension and the Klein Tools 901-6 Wood Outside Reading Folding Ruler. The 901-6 is designed for carpentry and wood working and contains markings and edges on both sides. It also contains a feature that would have helped when I was installing my Ikea shelves on the wall, red stud center markings on the ruler every 16 inches. The 905-6 also has the red stud center but features a graduated slide to extends up to 6 inches for inside measurements.

    wiha foldable rulerOf course, two types of foldable rulers isn’t nearly enough. With Wiha, we have nine different rulers. The Wiha 61604 Composite MaxiFlex metric folding ruler won’t rust and is chemical and scratch resistant. Then there’s the Wiha 61609 6’ inside reading folding ruler, the Wiha 61619 6’ outside reading folding ruler, Wiha 61601 MaxifFlex inside reading ruler, Wiha 61602 Maxiflex 2 meter metric, outside reading ruler, Wiha 61662 Folding ruler, metric/inch, Wiha 61620 Outside reading with depth gauge (replacement depth gauge is Wiha 61615), all of which are 30% fiberglass and can be used for a variety of uses. One key advantage with these over a metal ruler is that they won’t leave marks on what you’re measuring and they won’t get damaged as easily as a wood ruler would. Lastly, Wiha makes a composite ruler with the Wiha 61606 Composite MaxiFlex Folding Ruler metric/inch and a ruler for electricians, Wiha 61630 insulated Maxiflex Electrician’s Folding Ruler. Wiha really has a lot to choose from there, so make sure to look through those to get the right thing.

    Foldable rulers can be a really handy addition to any toolbox, and have some clear advantages over tape measures. We’d love to hear from you about any you use, so make sure to leave us product reviews for your favorites and tell us about your favorite on Facebook or Instagram!

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