A Capsela By Any Other Name

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I sometimes get the feeling like I want to do a project. This could be home renovation, fitness, or something else. Sometimes, I just want to do something with science. I start by looking at scientific type toys. The problem is, at the typical toy store, they toys aren’t really that scientific. The real problem is that the science store closed, and nothing has opened to fill up the gap. If there is something online, and they have free shipping within Canada, please let me know.

When I was a child, there were so many cool science toys. I have already written about them, so I won’t bore you (feel free to read that story here). I still have my old Capsela set–though I cannot find the battery holder and motor probably doesn’t work. I know I am not the only one who thinks this way because it was featured in Make magazine recently. What they didn’t tell people is that they toy has been rereleased in Japan.

The name is iqkey. Here are some images.

iqkey1 iqk2 iqkey3

According to Wikipedia, the new and old don’t interconnect–but I am sure we could MacGuyver something, or 3Dprint something. It will only be a matter of time.  This is being done by the Bandai corporation.

The immediate differences that I see are that they plastic float attachments aren’t round, but some form of polygon. The kits also come with remote controls–but what doesn’t these days.  It looks pretty interesting and fun.

I am going to order one of these kits soon and then I will do a review of the old versus the new. At the very least, I am quite excited about this.

The Latest Hobby Itch: Arduino

 
 
I know I shouldn’t do it, but I’ve got the itch.  I have become obsessed–no, that’s not right.  The word is too strong.  Okay, I’ve become intrigued by Arduino, though I am not sure why.  However, I can explain how it happened.
I was looking for a new project.  Actually first I was working on my decision making processes.  That is why I read a book that differentiated between gain and pain tasks, and how we put off gain tasks in favour ending pain tasks.  The book recommended scheduling time for gain tasks, and not worrying about how long they take, or whether they every get finished or not.  Sounded wonderful to me.  (If I can figure out how to do it, I will put a link to the book in my Amazon store at the side of the page)
So, despite having lots of these tasks, I decided I wanted something new.  Kind of a silly thing, but that is how my mind works.  That is how I started writing this (and three other) blogs.  If nothing else, my typing skills have gotten better.  I thought I would like to do some sort of science/technical project.
In days past, I would have gone to the Efton Science Store.  Alas, that has disappeared, and I had no idea where to look.  So, I consulted my fallback position.  I checked Amazon and searched for “project kits”.  That is where I found Arduino.  Just like a boy, I saw a kit full of interesting parts (all the bells and whistles), and thought, WOW!  I need that.  Though, in truth, I was not overly clear on what it was.
You’ve got to admit, this is cool.
After some YouTube videos, which are a tech nerd’s dream, I am still interested, though perhaps overwhelmed.  It is probably too complicated, but I am as fascinated and overconfident as I am nervous and confused.  I consider this a normal state when thinking about a new hobby.
So, I ask you.  Have you had any experience with Arduino?  Can you tell me anything about it?  I would really like your help.  Also, if you know anybody with experience, could you send them to this blog to help me before I spend all my money and end up with a desk full of electronic bits and pieces.  Please.

Ghosts of Christmas Past (part two)

 
One of the coolest kits (which was also quite educational) that I received for Christmas many, many, years ago was Capsela.  This toy was so cool that I have never been able to part with it, and the photos from this blog contain the actual kit I received on that cold (and possibly snowy) Christmas morning of my youth.

After checking Wikipedia, I found out that Capsela was created by the Mitsubishi Pencil Company.  So, surprise, surprise, another cool toy came from Japan, though this one came from an era when Japanese toys were more pedestrian.  It beat out Tamagochi by at least 2 decades.  Apparently, these days, Bandai from Japan has re-released these toys and they go for staggering amounts on EBay, or ship from far away places in Asia.  I had seen them at a science store–but that store is now closed.

Capsela was a rather unusual toy.  It was a motorized toy that didn’t come in traditional shapes and forms.  I think its science fiction look also was part of it’s appeal.  In addition to that, there were things you could build for the bathtub–and nothing could be cooler than that (add some superfoam, a few boats, and you had the making of a fantastic sea battle–probably better than that Battleship movie.)
the back of the box–detailing the parts included

The toughest part of the toy was understanding gear ratios.  Trying to build beyond the instruction booklet was rather difficult.  You couldn’t put things in any order you wanted, because it just wouldn’t power everything correctly.  Having only one set, and no internet bulletin boards for help, I really couldn’t stray from the instructions (though I tried many times).  These days, things would most likely be different.  Looking back on it, I had probably been too young when I got the present to really understand that, and could have saved myself some frustration.

There must be cool things like this today, but they are probably more geared toward use with an iPad, rather than a stand alone construction toy.  At least, I hope there are toys these days which are about building and operating.  I know there are still RC helicopters and cars, so besides Lego, there must be stuff like this–let me know what is out there.  I’d love to know.

It was definitely a cool toy.  Someday I will check out the new version, and that will probably be pretty cool too.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

 
While out shopping on the weekend, I spotted many wise people doing their Christmas shopping early.  This was most evident where people were shopping for their children.  It was plain to see which toys were most popular this season.

When I was young I often got “educational” toys and games as Christmas gifts.  Looking back on it, I really loved them, and that is probably why I gravitate towards stores which sell things like that.  Though there are relatively few of them, I enter them whenever I come across them.  When I was a child there were several of these educational toys that craved.

One Christmas I got a chemistry set.  I had wanted that for quite a long time and was really happy to get it.  Sadly, I didn’t do as many of the experiments as I wish I had.  The ones I did turned out well, but weren’t as cool as fiction books and TV shows made chemistry sets seem.

Regardless, I entered high school with an appreciation for chemistry that only a few students had.  I carried that appreciation to university and managed to eke out one year of science before switching to my other great passion.  I think a lot of that can be traced to that chemistry set.

As a footnote, I kept that chemistry set for many years–well into adulthood in fact.  I moved it to new locations several times.  Most recently, I was mildly curious enough to see if stores still sold them.  I was disappointed.