The Old Hall Primary Gadget Geeks have been busy this week, as well as unboxing and looking at the SAM Curious Cars Kit another group had a look at the littleBits Base Kit. I must say even unboxing the littleBits got us excited, we do love to tinker and here was an hassle free way of creating circuits.
What is it?
littleBits is a collection of electronic components pre-assembled in tiny circuit boards. These simple, intuitive, space-sensitive blocks make creating circuits as easy as snapping small magnets together. Each “Bit” is a piece of an electronic circuit. The bits are colour coded and divided into 4 categories: power, input, output and wire. By combining the modules in different ways (by simply “snapping” them together magnetically) you can quickly create any number of interactive electronic projects.
Here is a video from the creator that explains the ethos of littleBits:
What’s in the Starter Kit?
The starter kit contains everything you need to get started with littleBits, including several littleBits modules, a 9 volt battery and a full-colour quick-start guide. It even comes in a box that separates the components with a cardboard box that has a simple magnetic closure, this definitely pleased us at Geek HQ; there’s nothing worse that finding a deluge of electrical components in the science cupboard and then having to start sorting them out! But also, as the creator Ayah Bdeir touches on there is something almost exclusive in presenting circuits only in a traditional way. The littleBits system of using blocks makes the process of creating circuits and experimenting with the components much more accessible.
Don’t just take my word for it, here is a video created, edited and filmed by our Gadget Geeks, I admit I did interview to help with the structure but the rest was them.
How does it work?
Each LittleBit module in the Base Kit measures about an inch wide and is colour-coded by the connectors on each end, each colour is for a different property:
- Blue modules are power sources.
- Pink modules are control devices like buttons and sensors.
- Green modules are output devices like lights and motors
- Orange modules are wires for placing and arranging different modules away from each other.
Everything you build needs one blue power module, and at least one each of the pink input and green output modules. The magnetic connectors on each module make connecting them up simple. The magnets work with small plastic tabs on each connector to properly align modules in the right direction. You can’t have a module upside-down or backwards in your project, because it simply won’t stick. With the colours, magnets, and labels, it’s almost impossible to jumble up your modules.
With a growing number of available modules, littleBits aims to move electronics from late stages of the design process to its earliest ones, and from the hands of experts, to those of artists, makers, students and designers. There are lots of different kits that are available to buy to suit your purpose, that said, the Base Kit is a little light on options for the cost of £100 for 10 components which means that schools may struggle to get enough for a class of 30 children. If you want to progress from the Base Kit I would suggest the Gizmos & Gadgets Kit, or the network-capable Smart Home Kit these will add a little more challenge as they offer different parts to work with.
I think that littleBits has a lot of potential, I really enjoy how easy the modules are to connect to each other and adding a colour coded system makes creating circuits much more accesible. Ultimately, littleBits offers an easy, flexible way to learn about electronics, but the Base Kit is a bit light on components which might mean schools could struggle to get enough for a class of 30 children. However, the littleBit website does offer helpful free tips/ inventions to create and option to speak to educational adviser which is not something all companies can offer.
Please comment below with what you think and how you get on!