7
\$\begingroup\$

What are some good projects to give to beginners? I want something that involves some soldering, and ideally has some room for creativity. For example, with Bristlebots, everyone can get their own toothbrush, attach the motor in different orientations, etc, and they will all be a little different. Something where I just solder a bunch of components to a PCB and then everyone's result is exactly the same, feels a little too boring & restrictive to me. I'm looking for things maybe a little more complex than bristlebot, but not so advanced that it requires a microcontroller. Maybe something involving a 555 timer?

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • \$\begingroup\$ What country are you shipping to? \$\endgroup\$ – Dirk Jul 21 '10 at 0:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ USA...but most likely I will be looking at the contest of the kits, and buying the parts myself in bulk. This is for a group of 10-20 people, so I can save a lot of money doing it that way (getting parts straight from digikey, cutting out the middlemen so to speak) \$\endgroup\$ – davr Jul 21 '10 at 5:13
3
\$\begingroup\$

BEAM bots are cool..... a lot of them are pretty simple circuits - but they're effective. I also like how they have tiny little power harvesting solar cells :)

There's also heaps of different types and designs of BEAM bot's to experiment with.

Check em out on -> http://www.solarbotics.net/

alt text
(source: solarbotics.net)

\$\endgroup\$
2
\$\begingroup\$

A simple kit that is useful is the JYE Capacitance meter

Adafruit mintyboost - People go crazy putting it into different types of enclosures

For more of a fun kit, the Meggy jr

Although it isn't the fastest kit to assemble, it isn't difficult; plus you can do many other things with it once finished - you have a game, the opportunity to write your own games, plus get an FTDI cable, then the whole thing is an Arduino development board with a huge RGB LED display, buttons, piezo, etc. Although there is a microcontroller you don't have to program it, but you can later on if you want.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Meggy's a really cool device (I built my own similar project from scratch in the past, using a 8x8 RG matrix), but for this particular question, I'm looking for things that are simpler/cheaper. Things that I can buy the components in bulk, and a single set would cost maybe $5-$10. The bristlebot for example was about $4 + bring your own toothbrush \$\endgroup\$ – davr Jul 21 '10 at 4:33
2
\$\begingroup\$

I found this a very interesting question, really with no satisfactory answer so far. It also seems to be a very important issue if we are to get new folks up to speed. (I'm not even sure there is one single answer). Factors I considered are:

  • It needs to be fairly cheap. Around $10 - $15 is good. Under $10 is perfect.
  • It's OK to use lot of tech, but the goal is to enable a person to focus on one skill. So I'm OK with a pre-programmed microcontroller.
  • Opinions vary on this, and all are good, but my personal preference is function over form. (Bauhaus rules! :)
  • Should be robust to mistakes. I think it's reasonable to assume that beginners will be spending some time desoldering.
  • Needs to have good support and help.
  • It seems nice if it can be made into something that is not only electronicsy, and includes (an easy) physical build maybe.
  • The level of complexity is hard to pin down. I'm more worried about making it hard to mess up, rather than simple per se, but clearly the two are connected.

Based on this, I developed one to fulfill the need: The DayCounter. It is available here for $9.95: http://wickeddevice.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9&products_id=25

It has its own website: http://daycounter.wickeddevice.com/

alt textalt text

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't seem to be an answer to the original question-- Cheap, yes, but very little room for creativity in what goes where. \$\endgroup\$ – Windell Oskay Sep 2 '10 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are right, and this is a problem with all intro material. Consistency brings a LOT of benefits, so I figured why not move the creativity out to the physical build, instead of the soldering. \$\endgroup\$ – Dirk Sep 2 '10 at 20:36
1
\$\begingroup\$

Might I recommend my own "dark detector" project, or the simple solar circuits?

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • \$\begingroup\$ nice :) - the white pumpkin is groovy! \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Jul 21 '10 at 6:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good on you, simple and fun. Kudos. \$\endgroup\$ – user1307 Jul 21 '10 at 10:09

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.