SparkFun Inventor’s Kit Review
For the past week or so I have been tinkering with the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit. This is an Arduino-based tinkering kit sold by SparkFun for just over a 100 dollars on their website. At first I was somewhat reluctant to purchasing it. This is not my first foray into electronics, so the perceived low threshold made me skeptical. I need not have been. The kit comes with an extensive parts list that covers LEDs, various input sensors, LCD display, breadboard, wires and an electric motor amongst a few others.
The kit does not require the user to solder – all the component are plugged into a breadboard that will complete the electric circuit for you. As mentioned the kit comes with an Arduino computer. This is used to communicate with the components and provide the 5 volt of electricity needed. The handy guide that comes with the kit describes in detail how to set up 16 projects for the Arduino and breadboard – and how to program them.
Frankly there is very little this kit does wrong. The projects may be a bit simplistic, but there is a purpose behind that. If a wannabe tinkerer knew what they were doing they would not consider the kit. Yet each of the 16 projects is certainly worthwhile. After 3 or 4 projects any tinkerer will quickly feel familiar and may already have ideas for future enhancements. I think this kit has given me a solid foundation in contrast to my previously obtained ad hoc knowledge. Now that I have finished all 16 projects, from an implementation of LCD screen to Simon Says, do I feel I have a firm grasp of both basic electronics and how to program the Arduino.
The SparkFun Inventor’s Kit does not provide first time tinkerer’s with any deep knowledge. For that the description for each project is just too shallow. Instead, the guide covers a broad range of electrical components and tells the reader how to use them. On the side, there is a little bit of background on voltage dividers, the concept of the resistor and how to code functionality with the Arduino software. It is the right kind of knowledge that arrives at the right time. After finishing the 16 project any tinkerer will have plenty of knowledge to combine and enhance projects. As such the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit is the ideal starting point for your journey to explore electronics.
More tinkering with Make
So, where to from now? I have a lot of electronics projects lying about that are unfinished or damaged. Several past projects, such as a robot by BerkeleyX I never finished because I stopped with their online course. I do have the schematics and the parts available and a cursory view tells me I can finish the robot on my own. In the meantime I will also be picking up a copy of Make: Electronics by Charles Platt. I hope it will give me an even stronger foundation. I will write a review of the book within a few weeks. So stay tuned to SciFiEmpire.net. In the meantime I can highly recommend the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit if you want to delve in electronics tinkering as well.