Electronic hobby kits have a long tradition, but then so too did the aggravation and more than rare amount of pain that could result from having to do soldering or the act of wiring components together in order to arrive at a correct result. The digital age hasn’t solved this problem — a circuit board may provide digital video but it still has to be put together — but Microduino has. What they’ve done is taking the Arduino microcontroller and the platform of technologies that can use it and make them work together in a different way; avoiding the old methods where getting a connection required the brute strength approach.
How is this accomplished? By using some common sense (and a fair amount of tech) to enable modules that DO things to be more easily connected together. The first way this is done is by making the modules more accessible, well let’s make that better looking: they’re brightly colored and teh colors are coded. The next step is that darn connection — why can’t the modules just stay connected when you place one against another, you know — like if they were using magnets to “hold” one to the other. Okay, let’s do it that way and use magnetic attraction to enable the modules to “stick” to one another but more importantly make a connection. This turns the modules more into something akin to LEGOs than computerized, and that’s a good thing.
mCookie is the name of the basic kit and it comes with 4 modules: the first being a USB module, the second a Bluetooth module, a Sensor hub and Battery management module. Add to that 6 sensors (2 LED color, 2 crash/impact, 1 buzzer and a microphone) plus a set of instructions for making a series of simple projects that can be read off and done right away (like a “clap on/clap off lamp module, an alarm or LED microphone and others).
Microduino doesn’t eschew the digital world altogether and neither should the do-it-yourselfer/programming savant or newbie, tinkier or hobbyist. Open source code is available as well as a wealth of projects and tech to follow, download and use for making things like music players or robots (we love robots) or well, whatever you can depending on what you have to work with and what you want that which you have to do.
The mCookie basic kit runs $98, but you can spend more to get more — there’s also Advanced and Expert Kits that add modules for more complex projects. A little patience and a whole lot of fun results from using these kits. That’s partly from their design and partly from what they provide: the ability to create and learn more about what makes things tick while having a good time doing it.