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By Invitation Only - Minode Kit - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 7
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 1
Demo Software was of good quality: 1
Product was easy to use: 9
Support materials were available: 1
The price to performance ratio was good: 4
TotalScore: 23 / 60
  • RoadTest: STEM micro:bit - Minode Kit
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: There is no simple how-to guide on how to use this kit.

  • Detailed Review:

    The mi:node kit is a really attractive looking kit. Each sensor has it's own slot in the box and the colour scheme is colourful and friendly.

     

    It comes with a small booklet but this doesn't specify where to go to find out more. The element14 page that sells the kit also doesn't have any links to lesson plans or code blocks.

    A quick google gives you a comprehensive booklet from Farnell: http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/2551715.pdf?_ga=2.160216059.7971154.1520321820-521448588.1473107271

    It's really thorough but not very child-friendly. I think a non-computing parent would be pretty stuck on what to do with this kit without ideas/sample projects to look at.

     

    The sensor boards could do with some more formatting. On the back of each board, it says the name of it. But in some cases, this isn't obvious what it does, e.g. DHT11 ??

    On the front of the light sensor it has a switch - what does the switch do?!

     

    Also, some boards only go into specific slots of the connector board - this could have been specified on them as well as in the booklet.

     

    There's a lot to do with this kit. Plenty of sensors and outputs to play with. It comes with:

    • Light Sensor
    • Speaker
    • Temperature and Humidity Sensor
    • Sound Sensor
    • Mini Fan
    • Relay
    • Rotary Angle
    • PIR Motion Sensor
    • Switch
    • RGB LED
    • Orbit Fan
    • DC Motor

     

    Kids love the mini fan. When it starts, they just get so excited!

     

    All the sensors can be easily slotted into the connect board and a micro:bit also slots easily into the middle of the board. The whole setup is very neat and compact. It comes with plenty of connecting wires to connect multiple devices. It also comes with a micro USB cable which is very useful. Physically, it's very easy to use.

     

    This is a brilliant kit for young children and novices with no electronics skills. The connectors are very easy to use and are really solid. It would be difficult to break one. It's great that someone with no electronic skills can use all of these sensors without having to wire them up/add resistor/use a breadboard.

     

    The only sensor I don't like is the Relay. With no example projects, this looks like a pointless connector! You can use it to control high voltage devices but that's not clear in the kit and obviously, one is not included!

     

    Using the kit I made the following:

    - the fan turns on when the temperature went over a certain level

    - the speaker makes a noise when the sensor is breached

    - the RGB light comes on when it gets dark

     

    As I'm familiar with the micro:bit and can do programming I was able to create these using the farnell guide above. If you're a programmer but know nothing about electronics you'd really like this kit. It really needs a more user-friendly guide for schools with example projects.

     

     

    Cost wise:

    While there are a lot of parts to the kit I don't think the price reflects the value for money. It's very expensive. It doesn't include a micro:bit so that's an added expense.


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