Gakken Updates

A very small amount of new activity on Gakken’s facebook page recently.

First up was an announcement that Gakken was going to be attending the Tokyo Makers Faire at the beginning of August.

This was followed up with a mention of a new music video by the duo Yuzu. They redesigned the Gakken Automa-te (the mechanical handwriting kit) to play an electric guitar as part of the video.

Drect youtube link

Finally, there was a big children’s science event hosted by Maewa Denki, the company that specializes in producing gag machines, which sometimes include Gakken kits. Aug. 22, in Tokyo.

Gakken Updates

No real activity from Gakken yet. I’m posting this entry now mainly because I’ve been working on another VBScript for processing GoComics comments, this time for tracking reader reactions on various Luann strips to determine which ones got people to post the most messages in one day. That’s eaten into the time I was planning on spending on the Vocaloid tutorials.

But, the Gakken Facebook page does have two new posts. The first includes 4 photos from the Rainbow Loom kit event held on April 12th at the Musashi Murayama Aeon Mall.

The second is an announcement of the Theo Jansen art exhibit at Futago-Tamagawa (within cycling distance of my old apartment in Tokyo. Sigh.) Held from 4/24 to 5/6.

Gakken Updates

With the year pretty much wrapping up, things are pretty quiet with Gakken. There were two posts on the Facebook page, one announcing the release of the Rainbow Loom for Adults kit, and the other talking about about a theremin demo at Tokyo Culture Culture in Shinjuku on Dec. 21st.

Other than that, there’s nothing to report on. Literally nothing, in that the Otona no Kagaku page hasn’t been updated to show the Next Up page, and Amazon doesn’t have a placeholder page for the next kit. The last mook advertised a “hurricane-style” humidifier, with no tentative release date. Since the Steel Drum kit came out at the end of September, with a big gap between it and the previous kit, I was hoping for a December-January date on the humidifier. That’s not likely right now, and I’m not expecting to see anything new from Gakken until maybe March, at this point.


140925 Updates

A bit of new activity going on at Gakken this week.

First, a couple updates on the Otaku no Kagaku facebook page. One is an announcement of the Theo Jansen film shown in Kyoto on Sept. 21st, accompanying a “beests” workshop the same day. The other includes a couple photos of the film and workshop venue on the day of the event.

Next, the Otona no Kagaku website now has the details for the latest kit, the electronic steel drum. The official release date is Sept. 29, meaning that I won’t see it in Kyushu until Oct. 1. 3,300 yen ($33 USD), plus tax. Looks like it’s a small stand to hold a drum plate, with a guitar-style pickup in the base. The pickup plugs into a signal processor for clean-up and amplification. Output is either to a guitar amp, or wireless to an FM radio. (The box has a jumper for selecting 1 of 4 FM frequencies: 88.2, 88.4, 88.6 or 88.8 MHz.) It’s powered with a single CR2032 button battery. I’m not really happy with that, because it means changing more expensive batteries more often. I think one mod is going to have to be attaching a regular AA battery case to the main unit. The kit instructions give a 30-minute assembly time.

The mook will have an overview of steel pans, an interview with Yann Tomita, a look at how the kit works, suggestions for other surfaces to use as drum pads, and an article on electronic drum kits. There’s also the next manga from Yoshitou Asari in the Manga Science series.

One thing that I don’t like is that Gakken pulled the link on the “Next Up” kit. Hopefully this just means that they’re trying to keep some suspense until after the steel drum comes out, rather than showing that they don’t have a “next kit”…


Also, Newsletter #161 just arrived in my email. It starts out by asking if readers have had fun playing with the last kit, the Auto Writer, and then mentioning that the free app on the website allows you to make your own writing cogs for drawing pictures or writing letters. Anyone that hasn’t used the app is encouraged to.

1) The Cute Electric Steel Drum goes on sale Sept. 29
2) Big hit mini-Theremin kit gets reissued
3) “Twin V-Engine” workshop report
4) 100,000 Rainbow Loom Starter Kits sold!

1) The Cute Electric Steel Drum goes on sale Sept. 29
The editors ask if readers are familiar with steel drums, which became popular in the second half of the 20th century. There’s a bit of history about how they first came to use in 1939 in Trinidad, and then this turns into a commentary on how Gakken decided to make the kit. The main focus of the column is on how the pick-up works.
Mook: A4 size, 100 pages
Release: Sept. 29
3,300 yen plus tax

(no photo yet)
2) Big hit mini-Theremin kit gets reissued
200,000 of the mini-theremin kits have sold so far. To commemorate this event, Gakken is releasing an updated, fully assembled version for people that don’t like building things. New features will include an earphone jack, a 3 octave range, and a mint chocolate-colored outer case.
Pamphlet: 16×12.8 cm, 24 pages
Release: Sept. 30
2,500 yen plus tax


3) “Twin V-Engine” workshop report
On Aug. 24th, Gakken partnered with Mercedes Benz to present a workshop for school kids. The first hour was spent assembling the Gakken Twin-V steam engine kit. The second hour consisted of presentations on how Indy 500 race cars work.
Location: Mercedes Benz Connection, Tokyo
Attendees: 24 pairs of children and adults, 48 people total


4) 100,000 Rainbow Loom Starter Kits sold!
This section is a repeat announcement for the Rainbow Loom kit, for making bracelets, and the fact that 100,000 units have sold so far.
Mook: A5 size, 28 pages
Ages: 6 on up
1,200 yen plus tax

Gakken Activity

There’s been a little activity over on the Otona no Kagaku facebook page.

First was an announcement for the release of the Rainbow Loom kit for girls.

This was followed yesterday by an announcement of a workshop for making Rainbow bracelets, to be held on Aug. 23.

Finally, we have Miku Hatsune’s Magical Mirai (Magical Future), a music event in Osaka on Aug. 30 (Gakken is one of the sponsors). Th same event will e in Tokyo on Sept. 20.


Gakken Update, 140626

A little activity on the Gakken Facebook page.

On the 14th, there had been the theremin concert, with short courses on how to build, tune and play the Gakken theremin kit. One of the editors uploaded 3 photos from the event to Facebook.

Second, there’s an announcement that the Gakken “supplement” movie has started playing in Osaka.


Edit: The Otona no Kagaku site news page has an update – they now have a description page on the site for the new Pocket Miku book.


Gakken Update, 140613

A little bit more activity on the Pocket Miku kit. Gakken has added a link to the software application page. This is the app that requires Google Chrome, and to have the Pocket Miku plugged into your PC’s USB port. Originally, the app just let you read and write the onboard SRAM to change Miku’s vocabulary. The upate is an expanded menu bar and a new option for playing the Miku in real-time.

Not a really earth-shattering announcement, but it does demonstrate that Gakken isn’t completely hibernating right now.

Gakken News, 4/23/14

Right after I wrote yesterday’s post, Gakken updated their Otona no Kagaku Facebook page with an announcement for a documentary they made of the designers that developed the Theo Jansen Mini-Beest kit. The film will come out on May 3rd.

LED Matrix

Just a bit of filler while I catch up on my other synth projects. The next kit from Gakken, the “Pocket Miku Keyboard” won’t hit the shelves in Kyushu for at least another 2 weeks. There’s been absolutely no word from Gakken on the status of the auto writer doll kit, still tentatively slated for May. I occasionally check to see if they’re taking pre-orders yet (usually starts happening about 2 months in advance), but the auto writer still isn’t listed.

Over Christmas, one of the things I asked for was just a large bag of mixed LEDs. Didn’t matter if they were scrap or untested. I just wanted a large pile of LEDs to have something to make stuff with. I received a total of 400 red, green and yellow LEDs, both large and small sizes. The first project was just to build a simple 8×8 single-color matrix. Yes, I did have the single-unit bi-color matrix before, but I had to leave that in Tokyo when I changed apartments following the 2011 earthquake.

The fun thing about LED matrices is that the number of patterns you can program for it on the Japanino is pretty much limitless (on the other hand, the number you can have at one time has to be whatever fits into the 14K EEPROM and 1K RAM of the main chip). I don’t have a lot of free time right now for writing new pattern code (I do have about 15 simple patterns, including the above “Matrix” movie credits-style “rain”, plus the English ASCII font set), but this is something I can always come back to later and play with as I like.

It doesn’t look that bright in full daylight, but it really shines at night with the lights off.

Gakken Activity – Feb. 24

A little activity on the Gakken facebook page. First, Gakken is happy to announce that two of their books, one on Vocaloid and the other on figure skating (I guess) have made it onto’s Best Seller list.

Second there’s an announcement for the Vocaloid book, Singing Keyboard, Pocket Miku.

Finally, we have a craft fair event for the Petite Handmade felt animal kit.