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Thimble: Learn & Build Electronics w/ Monthly Delivered Kits

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Posted January 20, 2016

Create fun, electronic devices each month with guided tutorials and helpful community; first kit includes parts to build a wifi robot.

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The authors of this kit have created a series of monthly-delivered kits that help you understand the fundamentals of electronics and how hardware and software come together so you can innovate and invent from the comfort of your own home. Thimble is a unique direct-to-your-door monthly delivery subscription that contains a project with electronic components to teach kids and adults how to build a fun and useful device.

The very first kit they’re launching through this Kickstarter is a WiFi-enabled robot that you control with your phone, tablet, or laptop. The robot arrives with everything you need to build the project and a learning app you log into to follow instructions. The learning app provides step-by-step tutorials to help you throughout the construction process and provides a community of other makers to share knowledge and best practices.

By making the Wi-Fi robot, you will:

  • create an Android/iOS app that makes things move
  • understand how electricity, motors, and microcontrollers work
  • prototype your own ideas to improve the robot
  • have fun showing off your creation.

Who is Thimble for? 

Thimble kits are for curious minds – kids and adults (ages 13 and up) – interested in building electronics on a monthly basis that want a guided path to learn through step-by-step instructions on our learning app.

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Why Thimble?

Kids and adults want to be creative and develop the right technical skills to build something fun and useful. But they’re hesitant to jump in because:

  • they don’t have the right project ideas
  • finding components is time consuming
  • they don’t have the knowledge to assemble their project

That whole experience is a massive barrier and we’re going to fix it.  By offering monthly kits, the developers of this device are bringing the makerspace to your home; it doesn’t matter who you are or how old you are, people want to understand how individual electronic parts work together to make something function. As you progress from project to project, you will learn the art of soldering, programming languages, micro-controllers, and theory. Authors of the idea say their hope is that you will learn enough to build, operate, and manipulate your own projects in the near future.

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The Mechanics:

The Wi-Fi robot is built around the Arduino microcontroller platform which may or may not be included in the kit depending on the reward level you select. The robot shield plugs into the Arduino and contains the motor controller and wifi module. You program the firmware (low level software) on the Arduino to talk to the Wi-Fi module in order to connect to your wireless network and receive commands from the internet to control the motors and make the robot move. The Thimble app that you program (for Android or iOS) then talks to the Wi-Fi module via the internet (UDP packets, specifically) to discover the robot on the network and send it commands to move forward, backward, left and right. Tutorials also show you how to add buttons to the app to read from sensors that you can add to the robot.

 Soldering is involved:

Assembling components involves some soldering and can be accomplished by following instructions on our learning app in case you’re unfamiliar. Additional tools will be required to assemble the project and future kits; they can be purchased on our website after the campaign and will be shipped with your reward (if you don’t already own them). The tools you’ll need are a soldering iron, soldering stand, solder, wire, wire cutters, diagonal cutters, a glue gun, and a screwdriver.

What parts will I receive in my first kit?

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Learn how to assemble the robot and code by following tutorials on our learning app.  Once the robot has been constructed, kids and adults with no previous exposure to electronics or programming will easily figure out how to code the wifi-robot to move forwards, backwards, left, and right. If you’re already a pro in some or all of these areas, you can skip over to see only the parts you’re interested in. We will also guide you through writing an app for the robot which will work for iOS and Android devices.

Once you’ve completed coding the robot, you can enjoy driving it around. If you’re someone who likes to push the envelope, we encourage you to get creative – modify it and add components to the robot to make it do all sorts of things. This is truly where Thimble kits come alive! For example, add a sensor to make the robot avoid obstacles, or chase your dog around the house, or blink an LED when the lights are turned off! To get you started, we will show an example of how to read sensor data back to the app you develop.

The goal is pretty simple, the team says: To help you learn and build electronics in a more structured way. (without feeling overwhelmed!)

Future Kits:

Other projects you could receive in later months include quadcopters, alarm clocks, LED cubes, light control devices for your home, weather monitoring, and more. If monthly is too frequent, or you just want to try the first kit out, kits can be shipped when you’d like them, the team assures.

Sneak peek at the second kit: RGB LED cube with an integrated 9DOF IMU (accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer)

Sneak peek at the second kit: RGB LED cube with an integrated 9DOF IMU (accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer)

Source: Kickstarter

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