What's new here?

Archive for March, 2011

KOLA Phone Camera Accessory

Phone cameras are probably the most used type of camera these days. You just can’t beat the sheer convenience of having a high-resolution digital instrument fitting neatly in your pocket -and one that serves another purpose as well. Now sure, they will never match the versatility of devoted cameras or the optical powers of a Single Lens Reflex camera, but they were never meant to match those tools, just let folks have a powerful instrument in their pockets that they would carry normally!

Still, phone cameras do have many limitations. All their image changing is digital, not optical.  They lack any real accessories.

But that doesn’t mean you are without options. In fact one new item, the KOLA Phone Camera Accessory is designed to give a little pizazz to your camera phone and it goes right on your keychain! KOLA stands for Kolor of Light Accessory, and it is made up of eight durable color gel filters that can easily be put in front of your camera phone’s lens to make your shots much more interesting!

KOLA Camera Accessory

KOLA Camera Accessory

We tried this with our own camera phone – A Droid HTC incredible. We set the resolution low to keep the bandwidth down, but you’ll get the idea. First we took a control picture:

No Filter

Then we started with the yellow filter since it was a light filter:

With Yellow Kola Filter

How about one of the darker filters, such as the Red Filter. It send the camera’s digital aperture into a tizzy:

Next time we should hold it back aways from the lens.

How about Purple? Purple is fun!

We took the blue filter and held it a few inches away from the camera lens so it covered about 1/2 of the view:

All of these shots were taken over a period of about 5 minutes and were more a case of fooling around with the KOLA than any serious photo study. But these few photos can give you an idea of the possibilities available when you keep a Kola on your keychain!

Spectrum Scientifics “Gaussian Gun Kit”

The Spectrum Scientifics Gaussian Gun Kit is one of those products that truly does deliver a surprise when you see it for the first time. Even after you’ve viewed in a few times you can still be delighted by what goes on.


But the odd thing is: despite the exciting actions that take place with this kit, there are no companies that produce this item! Just a few other ‘kits’ sold at very high prices from hobby specialists. We really wanted to have this bit of science represented so we ended up making our own kits!

So onto the science of the kit: You get five steel bearing balls, two high-powered rare-earth disc magnets, and a short piece of track. The magnets are stood up on edge and four of the balls are placed on one side of the track. The final ball is gently rolled towards the other side of the magnet. When it reaches the magnet the final ball on the other side zooms off at a very surprising rate of speed!

Sometimes it is best just to let the video we took do the talking!

The Gaussian Gun Kit is just $10.99 and includes directions, extra experiment ideas and explanation of the science behind the kit. It is great for home, homeschooling, or classroom!


Video Thursday!

PECO (Philadelphia Electric Company) had our power cut until 12 today, so we’ve been off to a late start all day. So we’re going to be lazy and just show some awesome videos we made of some of our products.

Let’s start with a nifty video of the Robotime T-Rex dinosaur skeleton in action:

Also some nice video of our 3-D lenticular bookmarks & rulers

Our new Plasma ‘Lava Lamp’ shaped light

And finally, everyone’s favorite simulated butterfly in a jar, the My Butterfly in a Jar

Khet 2.0 – The Laser Game

We have recently added KHET to our product lineup! Khet has been around for a while but was always a bit on the expensive side. But the makers of Khet have now realeased Khet 2.0, which is a much more affordable game!


Like the best strategy games, Khet is very easy to learn but hard to master. Each side is given a special ‘Sphinx’  laser piece that ‘fires’ when you press it’s head. You also have several mirror ‘pyramid’ pieces,  a couple of ‘Scarab’ pieces with mirrors on either side, a ‘Pharoh’ piece (which acts as the ‘King’ of the game to be protected), and a ‘Anubis’ piece that is used to block the laser.  Players take turns positioning, rotating, and firing to try and illuminate the opponents Pharoh. Sounds easy? It is, but the possible reflections and positions make for endless possibilities int he game. You can even change the startup positions of the pieces at the beginning of the game to make for a different experience!

Khet is an excellent strategy game that works on the principles of optics. An option game addition can be obtained that turns the ‘Scarab’ pieces from mirrors into beamsplitters that send 1/2 the light through and reflect the remainder.  That makes a huge change in the tactics of the game!

Want to buy Khet?


Hydrogen & Renewable Energy Kits Part 2 – The Cars

Let’s face it, when it comes to renewable energy one of the major concerns is how they might be used to power that ever-useful instrument – the car. So with that in mind Horizon has made several over its renewable energy kits centered around  hydrogen-powered toy cars!

Up first is the Fuel Cell Science Kit, which, despite its name, is centered around a car. It has a solar cell for cracking water into hydrogen & oxygen:

Fuel Cell Science Kit

Fuel Cell Science Kit

The idea behind these cars works on the combustibility of hydrogen gas and the ability to split ordinary water in hydrogen & oxygen gas with electricity.  In this case a solar cell or batteries are used to crack the water into the gases, which are stored. Then when you want to run the car they are ignited and run a combustion engine not very different from the gasoline cars we use. The Fuel Cell Science kit car is set up so that when it hits an object it reverses 90 degrees and tries the new direction.

Horizon’s H-Racer Hydrogen Powered Car is the original model in this series. It is down to the basics with this unit. You crack the water and store it in either an external tank (inlcuded) or in the car’s own tank.


The Original H-Racer

The HydroRacer, much like Fuel Cell Science Kit, has the visible gas system on board the car itself. But the car in this case is much fancier, with a more streamlined appearance and some LED’s inside the body for a more impressive appearance.


The HydroCar

Last, but certainly not least is the H-Racer 2.0. With this model you get all the water cracking, hydrogen powered greatness of the H-Racer but with the benefit of also being a fully remote controlled car.

H-Racer 2.0

The H-Racer 2.0 Remote-Control, Hydrogen-Powered Car

All of these, much like the kits, are great demonstrations of renewable energy and the power of hydrogen fuel.  They also have the benefit of being nifty model cars on top of all that energy science!

Hydrogen & Renewable Energy Kits Part 1

Spectrum Scientifics has recently added a bunch of new Renewable Energy Kits & cars to our product lineup. We’ll be covering the kits today and the cars on Thursday. These kits are produced by Horizon and cover a wide range of renewable energy sources. The primary theme in these kits is to use the energy generation to produce hydrogen gas, which is a fuel.

First up is the main kit: The Renewable Energy Education Kit

The Renewable Energy Education Kit

Renewable Energy Education Kit

This kits covers all the ground for renewable energy: wind, solar, bio and so on. Various methods are used to generate power to convert ordinary water into hydrogen gas, which is then stored.  A sample set of pages from the included education guide can be downloaded for review.

The rest of the kits are actually just parts of the main Renewable Energy Education Kit, allowing teachers to concentrate on specific aspects of energy generation without the cost for parts they do not want.

The Hydro-Wind Kit, as may be implied, concentrates on using the wind to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen gas.

The Hydro Wind Kit

The Wind-Pitch Kit is related to the Hydro-Wind kit but does not generate Hydrogen gas. Instead students are given multiple windmill blades to work with to generate the greatest amount of power to run lights and music (LED lights and music make included!)

The Wind Pitch Kit

The Wind Pitch Kit

The Bio-Energy Discovery Kit works by converting ethanol (alcohol) into electricity without any combustion. the entire reaction is part of a next-generation bio-fuel technology.

The Bio-Energy Discovery Kit

Bio-Energy Discover Kit

Each of these kits makes a wonderful introduction to the world of renewable energy. They are excellent for personal use or for the classroom. Each kit comes with a Renewable Energy Education Cirriculum CD which has the following:

  • Renewable Energy Education Manual
  • Horizon Experiment Manual
  • Flash Animations
  • New Science Kit Assembly Guides
  • Technical Support Section with Videos

Add some of these fine ideas to your curriculum today!

BenchMark Incu-Shaker 10L

Benchmark once again comes through with innovative  and affordable new lab equipment. This time they’ve taken their popular Incu-Shaker Mini and made it bigger to make the BenchMark  Incu-Shaker 10L

Benchmark Incu-shaker 10L

BenchMark Incu-Shaker 10L

Like its little brother, this incu-shaker combines an incubation system with a lab shaking system (30-300 rpm) for those systems that require heat and shaking to occur. The larger capacity of the Incu-Shaker means that special shelves for petri dishes, trays, and microplates can be added (to a maximum of 3).  The system also has its own size MAGic Clamp for holding down flasks and other labware.  The system is very versatile and ready to serve you and your lab! The best part is despite the excellent quality and options the Incu-Shaker 10L is only $4,895 – the nearest equal competitor’s model comes in at over $6,000+! So its a great deal and an great instrument!

Glow Crazy!

The concept is simple and has been around before: Take a sheet of glow-in-the-dark material and make patterns using a flashlight or similar device. But Glow Crazy takes it to a new level by introducing several new elements!

The Glow Crazy Distance Doodler gives you two large glow-in-the-dark sheets to start with but also uses a unique Dual Action LightWand that projects a beam of light up to 10 feet away so you can ‘draw’ on the sheets! The flips side of of the LightWand is a more dispersed beam that acts more like a can of spray paint than the pencil-like other part of the LightWand. This is short ranged and lights up a wider portion of the sheets. It is also great for filling out the included stencils (another innovation) to make shapes and patterns on the wall.  With these tools you can make all kinds of patterns and drawings – making an outline of your friend is a real winner!

Glow Crazy also has a unique Glow-To-Go Kit that lets kids take the Glow Crazy experience with them!

This is a nifty pack kit with a LightWand and case with 4 colored glow panels. Its perfect for riding in a car at night. It also has a stencil set for drawing and the Lightwand is attached to the case with a string to make sure kids don’t lose it!


Finally, the next kit solves the biggest issue with the Glow Crazy kits – you either need to find a very dark room or play with the kits at night. The Doodle Dome solves that problem by providing a mini-tent that you sit inside of and drawing on the interior glow-in-the-dark walls of the tent!

Once again, a LightWand and stencils are provides in addition to the dome. The opaque nature of the material keeps out the light and lets you draw and play, any time of day!

There’s no cleanup required with the Glow Crazy kits, and you can draw on the sheets (or domes) as many times as you like!

UPDATE 11/19/12: We stopped carrying Glow Crazy items after some design issues (mostly with the Glow Dome). But they are back and not only have they improved the product but they have dropped the price as well!  The Doodle Dome used to be around $45, now it is just $24.95!

There have also been some videos made of the Doodle Dome and Distance Drawer:



A New Thinking Putty – Liquid Glass

The folks at Crazy Aaron’s Putty World have done it again. They have developed a new thinking putty for you to play with: Liquid Glass


Liquid Glass has a different ‘feel’ that regular putty, being somewhat softer and more pliable. But it looks really neat – when you open the tin the putty is completely clear. You might think you have an empty tin except for the weight!

Once you scoop out the putty and play with it a funny thing happens: It turns translucent in your hands. The more you knead and play with it the more it goes from being transparent to being translucent. But if you set it down for a few minutes it returns to its transparent state where it is as clear as glass!

Pick up some liquid glass today, it’ll be the best invisible-then-visible putty you’ll ever own!

Want to buy Liquid Glass Thinking Putty?


Laser Pegs

We’ve got a new product in house. It is called Laser Pegs!

Laser Pegs are the world’s first light-up construction toy! You join pieces together and not only do they for new structures, but they also form low-voltage electrical circuits that light up LED’s in the pieces! The pieces have all sorts of different colors, and some even blink!

Laser Pegs Dune Buggy

These kits are powered by ‘AAA’ batteries, however you can also purchase an AC adapter for more long-lasting lights

The “Big Kit” that we carry at Spectrum is the Laser Pegs 3-in-1  Kit

Laser Pegs 3 in 1

Laser Pegs 3 in 1 Set

But you might also consider the smaller kits, such as the Mini Monster Bug, the Tractor, and the Dune Buggy.

We would have added Laser Pegs back during the holidays, but they are a new product and were a victim of their own success – they actually ran out of kits to sell. But now they are back and well stocked to boot! Get yourself some Laser Pegs kits today!