Gakken Update, June

Gakken’s really gone into a hole with their Otona no Kagaku (adult science) kit series. They’ve stopped sending out their email newsletters, and there hasn’t been a “new” product in maybe a year. The last toys were things for kids (making pictures or dolls) over 9 months ago, which I had no interest in. The only new things have been re-releases of old kits under the “Best Selection” title. First had been the Pinhole Planetarium (BS01) in January.

Then, in June, Gakken released BS02, the Dual Lens 35mm Film Box Camera. The magazine has been scaled down to 24 pages (including instructions), while the kit price is still at 2,980 yen (without the 8% sales tax). This camera is fun to build, but the price of film and processing relegates it strictly to a bookshelf oddity. It’s not going to replace your smartphone, if that’s why you want to buy it. Not recommended unless you can get it at a discount.

Gakken Otona no Kagaku kit, 180125

Well, after a full year since the last official announcement on the Gakken page, we finally get a new kit, and it turns out to be a reissue of the Pinhole Planetarium. Released under the new Best Selection line (numbered #1), the price is 3,000 yen, but the accompanying booklet is a measely 16 pages. I’m very, very disappointed.

I’m really hoping that this does not become a trend, with “new” kits coming out once a year as recycles. Sigh.

Printing Press Assembly Photos

My original intention was to run the instructions for building the printing press next week, after the review of the magazine. Instead, I’m uploading two blog entries in one day, today. If you haven’t read the one on the Newton magazine article on Penrose Tiles, click the “previous” button.

There’s about 40 pieces to the Gakken mini printing press kit, plus the 2 letter sets, ink bottle, screwdriver, and eye dropper. The only other tool you’ll need is a scissors or diagonal cutter for cutting the letters out of the mold frame and trimming off the flash. Figure 30-45 minutes for building the kit, and up to another hour for cutting out the letters. You may want to have a tray ready for holding the letters to avoid losing them; or take a sheet of foam core, rule a 9×9 grid on one side, punch holes at the intersections and use that for holding the letters in the same positions as in the mold frame. You don’t really need to check if you’re missing any pieces, but laying everything out flat on a table may make it easier to find the parts you need for each step.

(All rights belong to their owners. Instructions from the magazine used here for assembly purposes only.)

Ok, getting started. Get the left and right arms, plus one of the regular screws. Position both arms so the ends of the 2 cross beams for the right arm fit into the matching left arm cross beams, and hold them together by tightening down the screw inside the middle cross beam.

Take the left and right frame pieces, and fit them together as shown in the photo.
I messed up the numbering. Put screws in the cross beams marked #1 and #2, plus the unmarked one, and tighten them down snugly. Don’t put a screw in the cross beam marked #3 – you’ll need that free to squeeze the arms assembly in next.

Stand the frame up as shown in the photo. You can see the screws in place in what’s now the back side of the frame. Pull the cross beams at point #1 (numbering from the previous photo) apart just enough to let you slide the arms assembly into the frame. The two nubs on the ends of the arms will go into the matching wells in the frame. When you’re done, the arms should be able to rotate up and down inside the frame.

Now, put a regular screw into cross beam #1 of the frame and tighten that down snugly.

Take the letter tray holder (my kit had the the letter tray already in position in the holder; you can take the letter tray out if you like) and flip it over to be face down, with the tabs pointing to the frame. See the two little tabs on the frame the lower arrows are pointing at? Take the letter tray holder and hook the tabs at the end of the holder behind the tabs on the frame, and rotate the holder to an upright position. The screw holes at the back of the holder will line up with the matching tab holes on the frame (see below photo).

Like this.

Turn the frame around, and take two screws and screw them down into the tray holder until they’re snug.

Locate the three metal shafts, and the shaft board. You’ll need the shorter and middle-length shafts right now.

With the back of the frame facing you, position the shaftboard so that the two pins at the side point to your right. Put the far end of the shaft board inside the frame such that the short shaft will run through the middle hole of the frame, through the shaft board, and then out the other side of the frame, as shown above. (Note, I have the screwdriver propping up the shaftboard just to help me get a better photo.)

Turn the frame around again, and run the medium shaft through the holes in the middle of the arm assembly.

Now, this is a slightly tricky part. You want the two linkage arms and two retaining caps. If you play with the linkage arms, you’ll see that they can be folded into different shapes, some more useful than others. Also, the arms are marked “1” and “2”.

With the back of the frame facing you, put linkage 1 to the right side and linkage 2 to the left. Fold the arms to match the photos. I’m calling the two joints in the middle of the linkage “elbow 1” (e1) and “elbow 2” (e2). The end of the linkage that just has the hole is the “tail” (t), and the piece with the spring and rotation thing is the roller holder.

Turning the frame counterclockwise a little so you’re looking at the left side, take linkage 2 and hold it so that the tail is aimed down at the table, and the spring roller holder is kind of tucked in between the other two arms. Slide the linkage arm onto the medium and short shafts, with the medium shaft going through e1, and the short shaft fitting into the end cap of e2.

Turn the frame to get to the right side, and mount linkage arm 1 onto both shafts in the same way. Then take the two retaining caps and put them on either end of the medium shaft. You don’t have to push them on very far. Just enough that the linkage arm elbows don’t shimmy around too much as the linkage moves back and forth. You can adjust the retainers later when the press is fully assembled (see below photo).

Take two of the regular screws and put them in the screw holes of the mounting caps at the elbows “e2” of the linkage and tighten them down so the linkages are firmly secured to the short shaft. (Push the linkages together so they’re all the way on the short shaft before tightening the screws.)

These guys here (shown before being tightened down).

You now want the long metal rod, the stirrup, the stirrup shaft, the collar and the two remaining retainer caps. Slide the pin of the stirrup into the matching slot on the stirrup shaft (doesn’t matter which side of the stirrup faces forward or backward).

Slide the long metal shaft through the linkage tail (t) on the left side of the frame, through the collar (with the thicker disk end closest to the linkage arm), through the lower holes of the shaft board, then out the other side of the shaft board and through the tail (t) of the right-side linkage arm.

Hold the shaft in place by sliding a retainer cap onto the left end of the shaft.

The caps are going to look like this on the left side of the frame.

The stirrup shaft will then fit over the right end of the metal shaft, and the two plastic pins of the shaft board below. Hold the right side of the metal shaft in place with the other retainer end cap.

Notice that the tail of the right-side linkage arm is located between the shaft board and the stirrup shaft. You can push the back retainer caps so that they fit snugly on either side of the press frame.

Take the washer-head screw and use it to fix the stirrup shaft in place on the shaft board. Tighten it down snugly, but be careful to not strip out the plastic threads.

Like this.

Get the ink plate and set it face down. Take the stopper and attach it to the plate with a regular screw.

This way. Tighten down the screw until it is snug and the stopper doesn’t wiggle at all.

Almost done.

Turn the ink plate right side up, and position the two fingers at the front of the plate so that they fit under the top edge of the letter plate. Rotate the back edge of the ink plate downward.

Looking at the back of the frame, you’ll notice that the stopper kind of hits the top cross beam of the frame. The idea is that you’re going to put a piece of cloth over the ink plate when it comes time to start printing, and the edges of the cloth are going to be tucked under the side edges of the ink plate, so that when you push the plate down, the stopper will snap past the frame cross beam and hold the ink plate firmly in place, simultaneously trapping the cloth sheet in place. This will make more sense later, when you get ready to start printing. The point is that to clean the cloth afterward, you’re going to need to pull the back of the ink plate up, pulling the stopper off the cross beam and letting you fully remove the ink plate from the press.

For right now, push the ink plate down so the stopper snaps into place below the crossbeam, as shown in the photo above.

Find the roller, and the two roller end caps. Push the end caps firmly into place at either end of the roller.

Like this.

Push the stirrup down to bring the roller hand ends of the linkage arms up to where you can see them. It will help to have the hands rotated to be pointing up and to the back of the press as shown in the above photo. Snap the roller into place in the hand pieces.

Like this. Note that the roller end caps have two small spacers that slide back and forth on the roller shaft. Make sure those spacers are between the roller hand pieces and the roller itself. But really, there is only one way the roller will easily fit onto the linkage arm hands.

Rotate the hands forward, and now you’re ready to start printing. Push the stirrup down, and pull it up, to test the movement of the arms and the roller. If everything moves smoothly, the roller should roll back and forth across the ink plate, down over the letter plate, and to the bottom of the frame. If you keep pushing the stirrup down, the press will push against the letter plate. If you have letters in the plate, and a business card blank in place on the press, you’ll make an imprint on the card.

Find the card holder plate, the felt sheet and the two felt holder fingers.

Put the felt sheet in the indent in the card holder plate, and push the finger pieces into the holes at either side of the sheet to keep it in place. Note now that there’s a lip on the holder plate at one of the edges of the felt sheet. You’re going to set your business card blank on that lip when it comes time to do the printing, so that lip indicates “down” on the card holder plate.

Snap the card holder plate onto the medium-length rod at the front of the machine, with the lip at the “down” position.

Like this.

If the letter tray is already in the press, lift it out. Use a scissors or diagonal cutter to cut all the letters out of the mold frame. Remove any excess flash from the sides of the letters. Put the letters you want into the tray. When you’re done, slide the tray back into place in the tray holder plate.

And that’s it for the kit assembly portion. Again, pull and push the stirrup to check the roller movement across the ink plate and the letters, and that the card plate moves forward to press the card against the letter faces (the type). If necessary, loosen or tighten the retainer caps on the short and medium-length rods to prevent shimmying or avoid jamming of the arm linkages against the frame.

I haven’t had time to do any printing myself, so I don’t have instructions ready for that, yet. In the meantime:
The black “ink” that comes with the kit is actually a water-based paint. Pull the back of the ink plate up so the stopper comes off the crossbeam. Take the piece of white cloth and lay it flat on the ink plate, and tuck the edges under the plate. Put the ink plate back in place on the printer and snap it down again, keeping the cloth sheet flat on top. Use the eye dropper to wet the cloth, and squeeze ink onto the sheet. Push and pull the stirrup to run the roller over the ink until it’s evenly smeared across the sheet. This may take a couple minutes, and it may help to just push the roller against the cloth sheet directly with your hand. Put a blank card on the card holder, and push the stirrup down farther to ink the type. Run the roller over the type a few times to make sure the letters are evenly inked.  Finally, push the stirrup all the way down, to press the type against the blank card. Release the stirrup and check the card to see if it printed the way you want. If not, re-ink the type and press again, or maybe press a little harder. Don’t press so hard as to damage the press. Practice a few times until you get it right. If necessary, experiment with the amount of water you put on the ink cloth, to avoid the “ink” being too thick and too watery.

Direct akken youtube video link

To print a card using the same letters more than once, use the little extraction tool to push the letters out of the tray, and reposition them as needed. Print again, and repeat as necessary. When you’re done, unsnap the ink plate and remove the cloth sheet and the roller.  Soak the sheet and roller in a bowl of warm water to clean off the paint before it has a chance to dry.

Gakken Little Printer Kit

Finally, the Gakken website got updated (last update was for the scratch art kit in January). The new pages advertise the printer kit, showing examples of the cards you can print with it (basically, the little name cards you’d put on the dining table to show where people are to sit for a party), highlights from the magazine (the history of printing, examples of fancy printing by professional artists) and the downloads page (PDF of the assembly instructions (40 pieces total, including the screws and small bits), and operating instructions). 3,500 yen (approx. $32 USD) not including tax. The editors suggest a 30-minute assembly time, which may not include trimming the flash from the edges of all the letter blocks.

You only get two block sets, one for one each of the Japanese hiragana letters, and one for one set of the upper and lower case alphabet, plus numbers. So, unless there’s a way to by more block sets, or if you can make your own on a 3D printer, there’s going to be a very tight limit on what you can print with this. I’m assuming the idea is that you print in multiple passes.

The kit hits the shelves on mainland Japan on the 15th. Kagoshima won’t get them until 2 or 3 days later.

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.


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)

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.)

Tornado Humidifier Kit review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Well, the Gakken editors have admitted that they took too long to come out with this issue. They didn’t specifically say what the delay was, but they kind of implied that there was a quality issue with the kit. It probably also allowed them to put in more time on the magazine, too, because it looks really good. Anyway, the magazine starts out with “Uzu” (spirals), a photo essay of spiraling air flow patterns, some of which are very complex and fractal-looking. This includes spirals in clouds, on the face of Jupiter, and from distant stars. There’s an 8-page explanation of how tornadoes are formed, with examples from the Gakken kit, and the indoor tornado generator at the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart, Germany.

There’s an explanation for how the kit works, plus the suggested mods – adding a little spinner to spin within the tornado; creating an Arduino bluetooth interface to a PC to control the mist and push it through a tube as a “beauty aid”; putting it on a penguin robot base to have a walking humidifier monster; and adding a photocell and Arduino control to have the LED light show activate when the room goes dark. There’s an interview with one woman on a project to translate 11 of the Gakken kits to Chinese; an article on the U.S.-Taiwan Formosat-3 meteorological satellite constellation; an explanation for how auroras happen; and a 6-page piece on Canadian tornado hunter, Greg Johnson. There’s 5 pages on the dangers of dry air (dried skin, build-up of viruses that cause the flu) and promotion of the use of room humidifiers (but which ignores the build-up of mold due to excessive humidity…); the instructions for building the kit; and the 16-page manga from Yoshitoo Asari on what 3-D printers are and how they work. The magazine ends with an ad for the Knitting Loom kit, and promise of the next Adult Science kit some time in 2016 – the Kaedadrone. Everything is in Japanese, as per SOP.

Just as an aside, the bits on health and beauty play into Gakken’s recent foray into skin care magazines and creams for aging women.

(The full set of pieces.)

Ok, for the kit itself. There are 31 pieces, plus another 19 screws, and a total 60 minute suggested assembly time. I took a little under 2 hours because I was also editing videos, helping with a computer manual translation, and doing the dishes during all this. Assembly is pretty straight-forward, and there’s really only one or two tricky points that may get you if you can’t read Japanese.

(The pieces for making the mesh cone.)

This is the first tricky point. You need to make the cone mesh. Take the mesh material, the cone and the locking collar. Put the mesh over the collar and press the collar into place inside the cone. Make sure the mesh is smooth, and not floppy in the middle.

(The finished cone. The pieces just press-fit together.)

Like this. It’s not that hard to do, but it may be a bit difficult to figure out just by looking at the figures in the magazine.

(The cone, the mist generator, the LED cover and the main base.)

The next step is to put together the major assemblies. In effect, you’re going to have the top and bottom sections of the cylinder, which are separated by a single sheet of rolled plastic. The base is where the secrets lie. The piece in the lower right corner of the above photo is the water tray. It’s also the holder for the main circuit board (which goes underneath). The piece at the top right contains a transducer (shown below), which pushes a felt cylinder (shown above) that is sitting in the water tray. The transducer vibrates at ultrasonic frequencies to produce the mist. The mist gets diffused by the mesh cone, and then rises into the bottom of the main cylinder.

(And the reverse sides.)

The base (left, in the below photo) has both the power switch and a volume control. The volume control changes the speed of a very small fan for less or more airflow up to the top of the cylinder, and the strength of the transducer for producing less or more mist. The top piece contains the fan blade assembly and an exit path for the mist to leave the cylinder and fill up your room. It also has the tri-color LED for illuminating the tornado from above.

(The partially-assembled base and top cover. Notice the power switch and volume control at the bottom side of the base unit to the left. These have to be inserted before putting the other pieces into place.)

I’m not really clear what the purpose is of the two pieces of cardboard coming from the transducer head (in the upper photo, bottom left assembly), other than to act as shim in holding the transducer while minimizing vibrations in the kit as a whole. Personally, I think the pieces should be shortened to maybe a third the length.

(The base, with the mister mesh cone in place, and the fully assembled top unit.)

(The fully assembled kit. The second “tricky” point is that you need to put the plastic cylinder in place so that the slots in the cylinder are down next to the two white paddles in the base unit. If you want to further hide the wires, you can cut a strip of paper out of the magazine (bottom of page 61) and slide it into the support spine.)

The wires run from the base to the top within the support spine at the left side of the cylinder. And, the cylinder rotates to reveal the water reservoir. You need to keep the reservoir mostly full, which is maybe an 1/8th of a cup of water. There’s a little plastic “L” flange inside that marks how much water you need in the reservoir (not too little or too much). The reservoir will probably go empty after about 15 minutes. The unit runs on USB power from any PC or laptop, and a 1 meter cable is supplied with the kit. Rotate the cylinder back into place before turning the kit on. All the USB cable does is to provide unit power – there’s no other USB communications between the PC and the kit, and the kit doesn’t come with a battery holder.

There’s a little lever in the base that lets you rotate the cylinder so that the slots at the bottom of the plastic are at one side of the little white paddles, or the other. You want to position the slots so they’re just partially blocked by the paddles in order to generate spin in the airflow into the cylinder (you can rotate the lever to make the tornado spin clockwise or counterclockwise). So far, the “tornado” isn’t that visible in my kit, even with “volume” turned all the way up, and the slots partly not blocked by the paddles. Either put a black background behind the kit, or turn the lights off. If you push the power button once, you get a single color from the LED. If you push a second time, you get color cycling, as with the origami lamp and aurora kits. Purple seems to be the color that makes the tornado stand out the best. Red is the worst.

Overall, this is a nice nightlight, but you’re going to want to put a timer on the power cable to automatically turn it off before the reservoir goes dry, or you may damage the felt piece attached to the transducer. It’s a big kit, at about 24 cm tall, and 9 cm in diameter at the base. Most of the pieces are very sturdy, not including the thin plastic sheet. There were no missing pieces, and the only “leftovers” consisted of the cardboard sheet used for shim for the transducer, and that could be purposed as a spinner inside the tornado chamber. I’m going to keep messing with it to see if I can make the airflow stronger to make a more visible tornado. Then again, my apartment is normally at 60-70% humidity, and in the winter we have heavy condensation all around the windows and frames that we have to remove with towels. The last thing I need here is something that intentionally INCREASES the room humidity…

Next up: The Kaededrone
No details given.
Scheduled for some time in 2016.
This is a small, lightweight 2-bladed remote controlled drone based on an insect wing for the main body shape. I can’t tell what the size will be from the photo.

Otona no Kagaku newsletter #164

Finally received the latest newsletter in email. The editors start out by stating that it has been a long time since the last kit came out, and that they’d gotten a LOT of inquiries from fans asking what’s going on. They add that they’re pretty confident that this kit is going to hold up under the scrutiny after such an extended wait. It’s going to be the “Tornado kit”, also known as the “Tatsumaki Hassei Souchi” = Hurricane Springing Forth Device”, with a release date of Nov. 12. The editors would be very happy if you put in a pre-order.

1) Tornado Kit Out After 1 Year Wait
There’s a fairly extensive description of both the kit and the magazine. On the kit side, it’s basically a mister-style room humidifier. Blowers at the bottom of the main chamber push in a fine mist and create a visible vortex within the chamber. A tri-color LED provides a changing light show, and the unit has an USB jack for power if you want to plug it into a PC for table-top operations. It also has an auto-off timer if you want to use that. The magazine is A4-sized, 84 pages, and has photos of various air flow patterns, the science of hurricanes, pictures of auroras, and an article on tornado hunters. The online instructions show 40+ parts (including screws and springs) and a suggested 60 minute assembly time. 3,500 yen, not including tax. Hitting stores Nov. 12 (it will get to where I am in Kyushu 3 days later.

2) Knitting is Popular in America
The editors talk about how knitting is popular world-wide, and then segue into the release of a new book – “Knitting Loom”, with the “Knitting Loom Starter Kit”. 2,100 yen. Nov. 17th release date. No photos or on-line pre-ordering links.

3) Rainbow Loom Starter DVD Book
Gakken has decided to release a DVD and book combo for showing beginners how to make various items with the Rainbow Loom. B5-sized book, 84 pages, plus the DVD. 1,300 yen not including tax. Released on Oct. 13.