The Curious Electric Co.'s Solar-Powered Kits Use an ATtiny85 for Dice Rolling, Magic 8-Ball Tricks

Powered by a solar panel feeding into an ultracapacitor, these kits are designed to introduce people to soldering — and solar energy.

The Curious Electric Company has updated its random number-generating, solar-powered electronic dice kit, while simultaneously releasing a new variant on the concept: a solar-powered Magic 8-Ball.

"I wanted to build a fun and interactive beginners soldering kit that was fully powered by solar power," writes Curious Electric Company founder Dr. Matt Little. "I'd seen some Charlieplexed LED circuits (on Tindie and Hackaday), but usually powered with a battery. I'm trying to do more kits powered by solar photovoltaics to learn a bit more about how they work and what they can do."

Little's first creation for the series was an electronic dice roller, using an ATtiny85 to light up to six LEDs when shaken. True to his aim, the device is powered entirely from a solar panel on the top — with an ultracapacitor storing excess energy and allowing the device to work even in darkness, for between 10-20 rolls before needing to be recharged again.

Its follow-up is a "Solar 8 Ball," a variant on the theme which increases the number of LEDs to eight in order to answer your questions in the same way as the liquid-filled toy of old: Just shake the charged device to light up an LED next to one of the eight pre-set answers.

Both the Solar 8 Ball and Solar Dice kits, which are provided unsoldered and using through-hole components to make life easier for beginners, are now available on the Curious Electric Company Tindie store priced at $15.95 each; schematics, PCB layout files, and source code can be found on the company's GitHub repository.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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