Around 2003, the licensees of Capsela inked a deal with Scholastic (famous for childrens book sales in schools). New Capsela designs were issued with distribution by Toys-R-Us.

I decided to buy on eBay the Capsela Bug Builder and the Capsela 90 Weather Station (still in a factory sealed box). The box says (C) 2003, Educational Insights, Inc. (C) 1997 VTECH, Licensed by: Mitsubishi Pencil Co. LTD. Made in China.

The Bug Builder

I chose this bit of Capsela as the bug looks a bit like a cricket. Also I was hoping to get it hopping so to speak. It turns out the motor is encased in the body which makes it difficult to provide Crickit motor control.

Popping in the batteries, there is an on-off switch near the back. The legs then move in a circular track. the eyes move back and forth. and the wings "flap".

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I really wanted to see about putting pieces from other Capsela kits onto the motor as it is already geared down to move things. But there are no gear meshings in the legs. You can put standard connectors on the legs but they just spin. So I failed at being able to put wheels on the back legs.

The bug body has a screw where the wheel has gear meshing. Oh well, we tried.

So this is a cute set but it doesn't lend itself well to either controlling the motor or adding on via either Capsela sets.

The Capsela Weather Station

The final Capsela build is the Capsela 90 Weather Station. The wind items will move when it is windy but not measure anything other than wind direction. The temperature measurement is not great as it is a color changing strip pn one pontoon.  The compass is accurate but hidden in a capsule.

The default build, shown on the box, omits two features as they don't fit. You can measure rain if you change the build and take something off, freeing a connection point. The sundial, likewise, doesn't fit without taking some other things apart. The supplied parts make several projects, but not all the useful things, all at once (see the items circled in yellow).

Actually Measuring Weather

The Circuit Playground Express actually can measure weather and report it back to your computer. Three things may be measured as is with more if you add on various Adafruit parts (which would be a more involved build). The Circuit Playground Express temperature sensor is great at providing real readings on temperature. Also, if there is a loud sound like thunder, it alerts. If shaken, like in an earthquake, it also gives an alert. 

As with all outdoor items, it is highly suggested you weatherproof things and ensure they are nice and tight. As many Makers have found out, projects that work great for days on a bench wither quickly with temperature changes, humidity, vibration, and grit.

Overall Thoughts

If you plan to do some modern control of Capsela, stick to the older, general sets. They give excellent access to connections, are clear (literally) and provide lots of learning opportunities along the way.

The newer, specialized kits may have been well-intentioned but for modding, they miss the mark. We recommend sticking with the older sets for the best experience.

This guide was first published on Jun 20, 2018. It was last updated on Jun 20, 2018.

This page (Scholastic Capsela Kits) was last updated on Jun 15, 2018.

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