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Binary Bots: DIMM + micro:bit - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 8
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 7
Demo Software was of good quality: 6
Product was easy to use: 7
Support materials were available: 9
The price to performance ratio was good: 8
TotalScore: 45 / 60
  • RoadTest: Binary Bots: DIMM + micro:bit
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Arduino kits in all it's forms
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: As this is an educational kit I took it to my son's school. He is in a class with 9 and 10year old kids so that is the lower end of the age range as the kit is rated for 8+. They work with Chromebooks with Android and had some problems connecting the device as storage devices were prohibited. The good thing with Arduino is they connect as serial device that was enabled. After getting the Windows machine the device connected as expected.

  • Detailed Review:

    The BinaryBots DIMM.

     

    As the kit is designed for educational purposes I took the kit to my son's school and let some 9 and 10 years old play with the kit to see if all works out as it should for their age.

    Some went searching on the https://www.binarybots.co.uk/  website for information and some started to build the DIMM.

    Website and information is only available in English. As this kit is age rated for primary education kids it would be nice to get more languages in the future as web translation does not fully cover the story.

     

    Building of the cardboard DIMM is fairly straight forward with the included manual. The wiring up is having some issues for the ones not used to clip multiple crocodile clips together. Several time the clips jumped of and caused some irritation and frustration. For the education of kids it would be better to find another construction, we ended up with some stripped wires through the holes and twisted the ends to make some studs. The kids that had been on the website found that you can create your own design ( but even after some searching there is no template on the website to create your own design labels). The battery pack has no power switch, to keep the connector from breaking by many connects and disconnects we took out the batteries to switch it OFF.

    With the DIMM just in plain white and the computer ready the kids went in couples to do some of the "Activities" from the BinaryBots website (https://www.binarybots.co.uk/activities ). As programming skills are low they went with the https://microbit.org/code/  MakeCode editor as this is  a graphical interface with several pre-programmed blocks. The Code editor works good as blocks automatically snap in when placed right.

    The problem arises when blocks are not dropped at the right location, blocks can become invisible when they shift below other parts of code.

    This overlap resulted some times for parts of code conflicting as they thought it was not there and recreated parts of code. This is a flaw in the interface and should be solved for good educational purposes. The in-screen emulator works but at simulating the I/O it would be nice to have better interfacing for kids. For digital inputs it works as clicking toggles the input, the problem arises when using the input for analog signals (like the Activities with the temperature sensor) the slider is the size of the pad of the micro:bit. This is very difficult to control in a decent manner, better would be a mouse-over pop-up slider to give better control of the value.

    The kids had lots of fun when time passed by and skills increased and errors became less frequent.

     

    The BinaryBots DIMM kit is a good way to introduce kids to robotics, coding and stimulate creativity. This kit includes all necessary parts and instructions to get them going in an easy kids comfortable environment, as building the DIMM made the kids more happy to play around then for example with plain Arduino kits. Also girls got interested as it does not look to technical due to the cardboard DIMM.

    In my honest opinion this kit has good potential for kids aged 8+, the BinaryBots website has some issues with formatting which makes it harder for teachers when they preview on presentations, Teachers material and Activities should become available for download and easy printing. BinaryBots should get label templates so Schools, Teachers and kids can personalize the DIMM as they mention on their website, that would make it possible to keep multiple DIMMs in the same classroom and give groups their own DIMM and they wont mix up when stored.

     

    Pro: Easy build, easy learning, quick results, more attractive looking for all kids as it does not look to technical

    Con: Battery pack has no switch, USB cable is to short for comfortable work space, Instructions not fully cover all required information (full teachers kit is required), missing labels template, programming interface needs work, difficult to connect multiple crocodile clips for kids.

     

    Price performance ratio is fairly good when the Cons are solved kids can play hours with this kit.

     

    The kids told me they would love to have more of this or the other kits to work with and hope the school will investigate in the possibilities to include them in the technical education program.


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