Snap Circuits Repair

For my birthday a few months ago I got the SC-300 kit from Snap Circuits, and it’s been a great way to share electronics with my son as well as having fun myself. Overall, I really like the set, but my biggest complaint is that I’d like to see more explanations of the circuits, rather than just the assembly guide it has now. Why use a 100Ω resistor instead of 100kΩ? What’s that transistor doing? Curious minds will be left wanting answers to questions like these.

But anyway, on to the repair…

The C1 piece, a .02μF capacitor, broke off at one of the legs. This is understandable, since the capacitor sticks out to be bent and squished accidentally by clumsy fingers.

If you look closely, you can see the broken right leg.

You can order replacement parts, but the shipping cost was prohibitive. Time to crack the case and peek inside! A fingernail and a small flat screwdriver (the size you might use to tighten screws on your glasses) popped the part open at the tabs without too much trouble, but be careful because if you crack the plastic that’s going to be a lot harder to repair than a wire inside.

Looks simple enough.

The local Radio Shack didn’t have any .02μF capacitors, but they did have .022μF. We had circuits to build right away, and it should be close enough for everything in the kit. If I feel like getting it exactly right later I’ll add a .02μF to the parts order for my next project.

Close enough.

The leads desolder easily, but be sure you don’t keep the heat on too long or you might melt the plastic directly underneath. Put the new part in through the holes in the case, bend the leads, then trim them to fit the tabs. The tabs don’t have any holes for the leads to go through, so just hold the lead onto the existing solder and heat it up. When it was done, the bottom half of the case clipped right on and we were back in business.

All fixed up and good as new.

UPDATE 1/21/2013: A commenter reports that you can order free replacement parts at If you need to build that AM radio right away you could still fix things yourself, then order a replacement at the same time.

8 Comments on "Snap Circuits Repair"

  1. Jake says:

    Thanks for this guide. I had the SAME cap break for my 6 yr old (who also got it for his bday) and fixed in the same way (though my Radio Shack _did_ have the cap in stock!). I was amazed that RS still carries resistors and capacitors after all these years… the margins must be tiny.

  2. Jake says:

    Oh another comment: I too wish they’d included “how it works” in the books for the snap circuits. Perhaps you could start a section of your blog to catalog descriptions for each of the circuits… we could all contribute!

    Unfortunately, there are 4 versions of snap circuits and I doubt the smaller kits are proper subsets of the larger ones, so that might mean 4 different guides. :(

  3. Christine says:

    I tried this and I melted the plastic a bit. It didn’t work. :( This is one of the few “toys” my daughter and I both love. I might just buy another set or a spare part. I tried soldering it three times and each time it didn’t work. I wonder if It’s not touching the leads properly. Would that make a difference? I just melt the metal and stick the lead on top or as far down as possible. Help.

    • Nathan says:

      Sorry to hear about that; it can be tricky. I had to repair another capacitor piece last week and melted a little bit of plastic on the back side, but it didn’t show on the front.
      As for replacements, I’ve found a few smaller sets at thrift stores for only a few dollars. They’re usually incomplete, but a good source of spares for only a few dollars.

  4. Tim says:

    Jake, I used to work at RS years ago as a very young man. I can tell you that every RS could stay in business if all they sold was parts. The markup on the parts wall was ENORMOUS. Those .89 cent parts cost the store a nickel or less. I sold computers in the TRS-80 days and made much more profit for the store in the cables, paper and diskettes than the actual machine. I’m glad to see you dads teaching electronics to your kids!

  5. Tina says:

    The leads broke off of our C1 and C2 pieces, and I wasn’t able to solder the parts back together again (I still have the parts, though, so I might visit a Radio Shack and make my own replacements per your instructions). When I contacted Elenco, they directed me to their website, where you can request replacement parts for free. I requested new C1 and C2 pieces, and I got an email back a short time later saying the pieces would be sent to me. No charge! Great customer service!

  6. Stephen says:

    To get more out of the snap circuits and to help tech the theory behind it, you need to get the student guide (part number 753307).mine is copyright 2008. I have the top of the line. Snap circuit sc-750R which comes with a teacher guide (part number 753290) with a bunch of quizzes and lesson plans and the students guide which goes into theory on the devices and how/why they are used as well as a bunch of examples and mini circuits. lots of colorful pix/cartoons. It also came with a lot more projects (with the snap circuits diagrams charts book) to build of course since it has a lot more devices. Well worth it. You might be able to buy the guides seriously

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