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The solderless kits that probably got you started

Many got their start in electronics through solderless lab kits. They typically came in a box with components mounted on a board or in blocks and a book telling you all the project you could make. Connections were made by joining springs with wires or placing blocks together. Other kits used the spring format for just a single project, with crystal sets and other simple radios being popular.

Lab kits were often expensive compared to buying the individual parts but appealed to parents as it was tidy, all projects were battery powered and there was no soldering involved. Lab kits are still sold today with surprisingly few changes in the parts and projects offered compared to 30 or 40 years ago.

Kits sometimes appear in charity shops for greatly discounted amounts. You're taking a gamble with regards to completeness but my experience is that it's usually worth it. Watch these videos and you be the judge!


Science Fair electronic blocks


Maxitronix 60-in-1


Maxitronix 60-in-1 made into 1.8 MHz radio transmitter and more


Comparing two crystal radio kits: Maxitronix vs Aviosys


Smithsonian crystal radio kit


For many years the biggest seller of the spring type lab kits in Australia was Tandy. Dick Smith, its main rival didn't have them. Instead they had their own Fun Way series that I described and demonstrated here. Today Altronics is the main stockist of these types of lab kits with Jaycar (like the Dick Smith of old) having its own 'Short Circuits' range.

Disclosure: I receive a small commission from items purchased through links on this site.


Books by VK3YE

Ham Radio Get Started (USA)

Australian Ham Radio Handbook (Aust)

Hand-carried QRP Antennas

More Hand-carried QRP Antennas

99 things you can do with Amateur Radio

Getting back into Amateur Radio

Minimum QRP

Illustrated International Ham Radio Dictionary

Make your Passion Pay (ebook writing)


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