Some might remember a childrens game where you have a sheet of symbols, holes in it that lead to contacts, and then you have two wires and whenever you have two symbols that match you put some cables onto those two, and a light shines that tells you, you were right. In my childhood this game was simply called "electric" and I want to create a similar game for my kids too, that doesn't fall apart as soon as you look at it.
My goal for the design were
- Will fit into an approximately test tube sized transparent plastic tube
- For the looks is a freeform circuit
- Does not use anything more complex than a transistor (i.e. only three pin TO devices, no more pins or flatpacks or so)
- When the contacts are closed, will light an LED for about 2 seconds
- Will draw very low (ideally none) power when not active
- LED will not go out while contacts are closed
- LED will turn on to full brightness, and when it goes off it shall not dim, but instantly go down to zero brightness. Some not really visible brightness changes (i.e. current fluctuations) are ok though.
- Amount of "P " transistors (PNP, PMOS) or other uncommon ones is low or zero. Ideally would be NPN only.
My design started out with some simple latching switch, adding timeout and other requirements as I went along, and what I came up with in the end is (ignore V2-V4 and S1, they are for testing the leads actions):
Basically around Q1 and Q4 is the latching switch, C2 is charging up until M1 causes the switch to latch off again; Q5 is there to hinder charging of C2 as long as the leads are connected.
Unfortunately that feels like too much components for this task. Also -- while the LED stays on while leads are connected -- it does not really do retriggering, at least not for very short contacts. This might be fixed by adding yet another transistor in front of Q5 to increase the current it shunts C2 to ground with, but that would mean: yet another component.
So the question is:
Can this be simplified to less components, or at least NPN only? Maybe at the same time solving the retrigger problem, or can that at least be solved without adding transistors?
Note: I might have forgot to mention some requirement because it is evident for me how the game should work, but not for you if you are unfamiliar with it. If you have the feeling that it would be the case with your suggestion, I would appreciate if you ask if "behaviour XYZ" is ok too.