Now, the company is branching out to the consumer market with its first Kickstarter campaign, promoting Elex Pipe, a kit of safe-to use and fool-proof electronic components designed to be magnetically assembled and connected into 3D electronic circuits.
The project started two years ago, “It was Christmas time” remembers Zsolt Démi, co-founder and lead software developer at the company.
“I remember that as a child, I would always disassemble electronic or mechanical devices to understand how they worked or to build something else. I would ruin everything most of the time. But on some occasions when I was able to re-assemble something properly and it worked again, I had the greatest feeling. So I wondered how I could share the feeling of excitement that I had when creating something that worked” continued Démi.
The Elex Pipe has been his pet project since then, requiring nearly two years of development, with the company buying new tools and materials, tinkering with electronic components and embedding them into transparent plexiglass pipes with aluminium endings and snappy magnets.
“It took us some time to figure out what would be the right size, the right options to offer, circuit elements and connectors, and also to develop educational applications, with puzzle-like challenges for kids to try and learn by solving electronic circuits manually”.
The Elex Pipe elements include various LEDs, lasers, pivoting mirrors, batteries, interconnects of different shapes, programmable elements (through a Bluetooth connection to the Elex Prof smartphone app), digital counters, voltmeters, potentiometers, capacitors, reed relays, various switches, metal detectors, infrared detectors and magnetic polarity detectors. The equivalent of a bread board for all these chunky but safe elements, the Elex table provides a readily powered prototyping area to play with.
“Every element has built-in protection, you can shortcut it, stress it to overvoltage, so you can discover and build new circuits through trial and error without ruining the parts”, explained Démi, strong of his early years of experimentation and disappointments.
The kit is really geared towards education. “We wanted to avoid creating a lego-type thing where the wires are abstracted. Instead, the pipes are like real wires, and kids have to figure out how to route the current across different points, sometimes in 3D. On each component, we drew the electronic symbol representative of that component, so kids learn the real symbol as it used in real life by electronic engineers” concluded Démi.
Not only the bits are easy to assemble and connect in all directions, but the designers at Mad Tatu have done their best to make these educational electronic circuit games truly reconfigurable pieces of art, nearly adopting a steam-punk look. One can choose from different PCB finishes, including copper, silver or gold contact plating. The company is busy developing video tutorials and also plans to release more complex elements taking analogue and digital inputs.
Check out the Elex Pipe kickstarter campaign
Visit Mad Tatu at www.madtatu.com