Ok makers! We’re going to kick off some holiday gift guide action for 2008! First up – $20 and under ELECTRONICS KITS, we know holiday gift budgets are shrinking – a lot of us will have more time than money next year, so more than ever – if you’re going to spend your hard earned cash consider spending it on something that gives back. A kit to learn about electronics, a book to savor and pass along to someone else, a tool you know you’ll use for years, something that you know you’ll use – something to learn with, something you can give to someone else later. Read on for the complete list!
In this first gift guide we’re rounding up electronic kits that are $20 (or close to and under). Special bonus, most / all of them are open source hardware projects and made by makers right here in the USA. I’ve put these in order of beginner to more advanced, so if you’re a parent/relative and want to give the young ones a few of these to “grow in to” this is the way to go. Most of items are from our Maker Shed, each day and each week leading up to December 19th (last possible day of shipping) we’ll have a unique guide from MAKE, CRAFT, around the web, our friends and special guests – they won’t all be from MAKE but they’re our picks. Make sure to order before 12/19 to save on shipping, it’s silly to waste money on overnighting stuff! Lastly – We’ll clearly label what’s from where, how much it is and we’ll only suggest things we actually think are worth your money and most important, your time. Let’s get started!
Electronics Kits, give the gift of engineering!
MintyBoost USB Charger Kit v2.0
Let’s start with the classics – Build your own MintyBoost: a small & simple (but very powerful and very MAKE-like) USB charger for your iPod (or other mp3 player), camera, cell phone, and any other gadget you can plug into a USB port to charge. If you’re looking to get started with electronics, this is it and it’s extremely useful – I use one with my iPhone and never leave home without it!
Loud Objects Noise Toy Kit
Bzzzzrrrreeeeepehkhkhkhhhhhhhk! Build your own Noise Toy with this new kit from electronic noise group the Loud Objects. Plug in your headphones and glitch out, or jack into an amp and play it as an instrument. These kits come with a custom-printed circuit board, a noise generating microchip from their live performances, two buttons for modulating the sound, headphone jack and battery.
MiniPOV- An Inexpensive Persistence of Vision – Spell words in the air!
The 3rd generation MiniPOV is perfect for beginners who are looking to learn how to solder, how to program microcontrollers, or make LED blinky toys. Because the programmer is built into the kit, you don’t need a special “microcontroller programmer”. This version can be used with PCs (Linux/Unix or Windows) and Macs (running MacOS X and with a USB/serial converter).
The Solar Powered Theremin-sounding (Heliophone) Kit
This is an electronics kit suitable for beginners but it DOES require some soldering. With very few parts you can build a tiny solar powered theremin enclosed in a mint tin (NOT INCLUDED) like our new Make Tin. So when the oil runs out, the ice caps melt and civilization crumbles to dust, thanks to the Heliophone, we will still have electronic music.
Drawdio Kit – The pencil that makes music!
Invented by Jay Silver and developed with Adafruit, Drawdio is an electronic pencil that lets you make music while you draw! It’s great project for beginners: An easy kit with instant gratification! Essentially, its a very simple musical synthesizer that uses the conductive properties of pencil graphite to create different sounds. The result is a fun toy that lets you draw musical instruments on any piece of paper. Remember Bill Cosby’s picture pages? Yah, it’s like that – but you make it!
Game of Life kit – Create digital “colonies”
In 1970, John Conway came up with a 1-player game called Game of Life. The Game of Life is a mathematical game that simulates ‘colonies’ that grow or die based on how crowded or lonely they are and is known for the way it creates a beautiful organic display out of randomness. Here is a design for a simple electronic project that plays Conway’s Game of Life. Make one kit and keep it on your desk, or attach multiple kit modules together to create a large display. The kit is very easy to make and an excellent first electronics project. It is perfect for workshops since at the end everyone can connect their completed module together.
SIM Card Reader/Writer Kit – Read what is on your cell phone’s SIM card and more!
This is a SIM card reader/writer for experimentation and investigation of SIM & Smart cards. Once the kit is built, accompanying software can be used to read and write from the card. Together they can be used to backup stored SIM card data, recover deleted SMS’s and phone contacts, examine the last 10 phone numbers dialed, etc. (Despite being called a SIM reader, it can also write to SIM cards) The kit includes PCB and components. Basic hand tools, 9V battery, SIM card and serial cable are not included. This project is fairly easy and can be built within an hour, even if you’ve never soldered before!
The open heart kit
The Open Heart is an LED matrix of individually addressable LEDs. It can be used to create a brooch or bag light with highly customizable animations. It can be configured so that you can temporarily attach it to fabrics with headers that you simply push through, or you can configure it to be sewn into a project using conductive fabric for a more permanent setup. You’ll need an Arduino to complete this project as well as a soldering iron and basic hand tools.
DC Boarduino (Arduino Clone) Kit – inexpensive way to join the Arduino world!
If you’ve ever struggled to use a solderless breadboard with an Arduino, you understand how frustrating it can be! This clone acts just like an Arduino, and works with the latest Arduino software. For many projects it can even be preferrable! The kit includes all parts necessary, the assembly is straightforward and well documented. Since this design doesn’t include a USB chip, you’ll want an FTDI TTL-232R USB-to-TTL serial cable. Since the cable plugs right into the Boarduino, you can use one cable for multiple Boarduinos (the cable is only $20, and only $18 if you order it with the Boarduino). Also see “Bare Bones Arduino kit“…
MotorShield for Arduino Kit
Last up, for those of you with an Aruduino already… A full-featured motor shield that will be able to power many simple to medium-complexity projects for your Arduino. Kit comes with all parts necessary, unassembled. Motors and Arduino are not included.
And to wrap up the $20 and under kits, we’ve included some holiday kits! Still under $20 too!
3D Christmas tree kit
Celebrate the holidays with this great, easy to build kit. Perfect for the cubicle! 8 simple steps gives you a cool flashing multi-colored LED Christmas Tree.
DIY LED Felt Ornaments
Brighten up the season by making your own LED Felt decorations. Three designs to choose from and look ma, no soldering!
LED Mini Menorah Kits
A DIY mini-LED menorah for hanukkah. The mini-LED Hanukkah menorah is a modern update of the traditional hanukkiyah, the nine-armed Hanukkah candelabrum. Two candles are lit on the first night of Hanukkah (one “real” candle plus the uppity lighter candle, or shamash which apparently doesn’t count), three on the second night, right up to nine on the eighth night. That’s (2+9)*(8/2)=44 candles all together, for those of you keeping score.
LED Micro-Readerboard Kit
This fun little open source soldering kit provides an introduction to the capabilities of microcontrollers.The readerboard spells out preprogrammed messages such as “MAKE” one letter at a time on its alphanumeric LED display.
Holiday Shipping Deadlines:
Ground – Dec 15th
3-Day Saver -Dec 17th
2-Day -Dec 18th
Overnight -Dec 19th
*Customers experiences on orders with these ship methods placed after these dates may vary, the dates listed are what we call “safe dates”
USPS (Any Method):
Due to the high volume of mail that the postal service deals with around the holidays, order by Dec. 10th, however, many packages are lost or delayed in transit and we do not replace or refund any orders lost using this ship method, we strongly encourage you to not use this method in December.
Want more? Stop by the Maker Shed store and check out THE place for open source hardware, Arduino & Arduino accessories, electronic kits, science kits, smart stuff for kids, back issues of MAKE & CRAFT, box sets, books, robots, kits from Japan and more.