Site problems – edited

WordPress support tells me they’ve fixed the problem that was causing images on mediafire to not display. If you still notice any missing images (such as, there’s a caption but no photo to go with it) please comment on this post and let me know. Thanks.


Gakken Kaeda Kit comments

Okay, the latest Gakken kit is finally out – the Kaeda drone, so named because the main prop blade resembles a maple seed. 3,980 yen ($39 USD) without the 8% tax. It’s been over a year since the last kit came out, in Sept., 2015, and the anticipation for the Kaeda Drone was probably blown out of proportion because of it. This one wasn’t much of a challenge to build, since the drone itself was already pre-assembled. The controller required assembly, but it only consisted of the two halves of the case shell, the battery cover, three knobs, the circuit board, and 6 screws, (and there are 2 replacement propeller blades).

(The controller parts, plus the two replacement blades.)

The suggested assembly time was 15 minutes, and I think I did it in 10. (It takes 4 AAA batteries.) The only issue was with the power LED leads, which had been bent 180 degrees, and the requirement is for the leads to be bent 90 degrees so the LED is sticking out the side of the case. But, that’s an easy fix. The drone is powered by a lithium polymer battery that takes about 30 minutes to recharge to 60% when plugged into the controller. That will give you roughly 7 minutes of flight time. If you want the battery at full power, you have to give it a second charge. The instructions are: 1) Turn off the controller and the drone. 2) Pull the charge cable out of the well at the back of the controller, under the battery cover. Plug the cable into the drone. 3) Turn on the controller power switch. The green LED will light on the controller. When it goes out, the first charge cycle is finished. 4) Repeat steps 1-3 for the second charge.

(The assembled controller.)

The controller talks to the drone via an infrared LED, so it has to be aimed directly at the drone at all times, or the drone will lose signal and touch down on the ground. And, it works up to 15 feet away. The controller itself is simple – a power switch, the power LED and charge LED, the propeller speed slider and the directional knob. You hold the knob in the direction you want to go, and the horizontal tail prop turns on and off to get the sideways movement desired. The one tail prop prevents the body unit from rotating, and the other contributes to directional movement. The main styrofoam blade gives you lift, and it maintains its height pretty well. The drone is light, at 12 grams, and if it bumps into something, it’ll just bounce away without anything getting damaged, including the styrofoam blade. The kit dimensions are 9.8″ x 7″ x 1″.

Overall, it’s a nice little toy, and is fine for use indoors, but the $39 price tag IS on the high side. Especially when you look at the magazine. This is one of the thinner volumes in a long time. It’s only 36 pages. The first section is a 4-page photo essay with the model/idol talent, Riina flying the drone in a house. This is followed by 6 pages of explanation for how the drone works and how to fly it. There’s 4 pages for building the controller, and 1 page of troubleshooting Q&A. 2 pages of photo essay for the shapes of tree seeds, and 2 pages for an interview with a Japanese drone racer. The editor-suggested mods are to replace the blade with balsa wood, and to put LEDs on the main blade and connect the controller to a PC via an Arduino box for computer-controlled light art. The last 5 pages are an explanation of what drones are, and what uses they’re being put to. There’s no manga this time, no science, and very little theory. There’s also no mention of any future kits.

(Bottom side of the drone.)

I get the feeling that Gakken is having trouble figuring out how to make money on their publications, and they’re cutting corners on projects that appear over-staffed or over-promoted. This is a shame because I like building these kits, and I’d love to see more of them in the electronic music series. Oh well. Anyway, I recommend the Kaeda drone if you can get it in Japan at cover price, without the import mark-up.

(The drone, plugged into the controller to recharge the lithium polymer battery.)

Direct youtube link

Kaeda Drone now out

Gakken finally updated their website to include the regular advertising for the new kit. So, if you want to see what the kit consists of, and get an idea of how hard it is to build it, you can check out the construction sheets. I expect to see this kit arriving in Kyushu either tomorrow, or Friday.


Now Listening 2: Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence on the Udar

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence on the Udar

The science kit publisher Gakken promised a cheap version of the Udar several years ago. I’m still waiting.

Otona no Kagaku e-mail magazine 165

Finally got the e-mail newsletter from Gakken. It starts by stating that it’s been over one year since the release of the last kit, and that the editors want to say thank you for everyone that has been waiting during that time. The main announcement is for the Kaeda Drone, which has a wing shape similar to that of a maple tree seed pod, with a total length of 25 cm (10 inches) and a weight of 12 grams (0.5 ounces). It will hit the shelves in central Japan on Dec. 20th, just in time for Christmas (it won’t get to Kyushu until 3 days later).

1) Otona no Kagaku Magazine “Kaeda Drone”, on sale after a 1 year wait!
The main section text apologizes for the wait, then talks about what a “drone” is. The following specs then cover the drone itself, while pretty much ignoring the RC controller.

The drone is 250x180x25mm.
Flight time will be 7 minutes, when the drone starts out fully charged.
Charge time is 30 minutes, two times.
The drone is designed for indoor use.
Indoor, the drone can operate up to 5 meters (15-16 feet) from the controller.
Battery: On the main unit, a Lithium polymer cap. On the controller, 4 AAA batteries.

Looks like this is going to be a hardback book, A4 sized, 34 pages.
Price: 3,980 yen (without tax, 4,298 yen with 8% tax) (approx. $39 USD w/o tax)
Release date: Dec. 20, 2016

Amazon page


2) Announcing the Otona no Kagaku wool knitting machine!
Following the release of the Rainbow Loom, we have the “Long Knitting Loom”.
For ages 6 and up.
Kit size: 25.3 x 21 x 5.3 cm
Price: 2,100 yen without tax
Kit includes: Knitting machine, extension block, wool needle, bar, hook, wool and A1-sized instruction book.
In stores now.


3) Adult Coloring picture, scratch art pad series
A black drawing pad that you can scratch away to make your own artwork.
This kit has the pattern for the “Glittering Princess Decoration”.

Size: 25.4 x 18.2 x 1 cm
22 page book plus scratch pencil and stencil
In stores now.


4) The Shiratori game that can be played by adults – Pitango
Shiratori is a word chain game. One person starts with a Japanese word, and the next person has to say the next word that starts with the last character of the first word. You lose if you can’t come up with anything, if you repeat a word, or if the word ends in “n” (since there aren’t any words in Japanese that start with the character “n”.
i-… I can’t think of anything.

Pitango is based on the game Algo. I’ve never played Algo, but apparently the idea is that you have a sequence of 4 characters, and you’re supposed to expand the series following certain rules.

For elementary students up to adults.
Size: 16.5 x 16.5cm
Price: 1,600 yen (without tax)
Contains: 100 title cards, 10 starter subject cards, 10 yellow cards, and instructions
In stores now (published Dec. 2, 2016)

Glass Armonica

Now Listening 2: Glass Armonica

Animusic – Resonant Chamber (2008)

Now Listening 2: Animusic – Resonant Chamber (2008)

The classics are always best.

Kaeda Drone Kit update

The new Gakken kit, the Kaeda Drone, is now showing up on the site. There’s no cover photo, but the tentative price is 4,298 yen (about $41 USD), making it one of the most expensive mook-based kits so far. A “mook” kit is one where the magazine/book accompanies the kit. There have been more expensive kits, but those were only the product, without the magazine/book, and they were much higher-quality products. The expected release date is Dec. 20, so it won’t be showing up in Kagoshima until the 23rd. Just in time for Christmas in Japan, but don’t expect the imports to the U.S. or other countries to be showing up until Jan., 2017, at the earliest.

Still nothing for this kit on the official Gakken Adult Science site, though, and nothing in the last couple days on the facebook page.

New Gakken Adult Science Kit

Wow, it’s been a year since any new announcements from Gakken, and finally they’re saying that a new kit will be coming out in Dec. (There was a small amount of activity on the facebook page for appearances in maker faires, and for the knitting looms for girls, but that was it.)

(Assembled unit on a scale showing the total weight at 11.5 grams.)

The new kit is going to be for the “maple leaf drone,” so called because the single lift blade (styrofoam?) gives the drone the impression of a “maple leaf blowing in the air.” There’s a video and several photos that had been uploaded to facebook all at about the same time, showing the arrival of parts from the factory, the assembly of the drone, and the current state of flight. It’s going to be a very small unit, incapable of carrying any kind of load, so you’re not going to be able to use it like a GoPro camera carrier, or for shooting video with a smart phone. Also, the frame rotates, so even if you could use it to shoot video, the results would give you motion sickness. (Although, it looks like maybe the stabilizers can be mounted at different angles to prevent the unit from rotating if desired.)

There’s nothing on this kit on the main Otona no Kagaku website yet, so there’s no official announcement for tentative pricing. And, the kit isn’t showing up on either. So, assume that it may not be out in time for Christmas. (I wanted to embed the video of the unit flying, but it doesn’t look like there’s video on youtube yet, and I don’t know how to get the link for embedding videos hosted on facebook.)

Now listening to: Automatic Man – Automatic Man

Automatic Man – Automatic Man (1976)

This is the last of the synth related albums I’m going to highlight here for a while. I hope you liked at least one of them.