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I Spy the IoT Kit

Aug 2020

This review was written by our intern Rohit, currently studying Computer Science at National University of Singapore.

What is it?

The Smart Science IoT kit comes with several components, including:

  1. OLED Display
  2. Servo (180 degrees)
  3. Light sensor
  4. Noise sensor
  5. Water level sensor
  6. Soil moisture sensor
  7. Sonar:bit (ultrasonic sensor)
  8. BME 280 (pressure, temp, humidity sensor)
  9. Dust sensor
  10. PIR sensor

This micro:bit kit does not come with a micro:bit, so remember to buy one separately if you intend to purchase this kit! Apart from the components, the kit also comes with a comprehensive manual with several projects involving all of the components listed above, which will serve as a great backdrop for any project extensions.

IoT?

For those of us (like me) who may not be fully familiar with the term IoT, it means Internet of Things. In simpler terms, they are devices that wirelessly connect to the network and ease and improve our day to day lives. Some simple IoT devices that we see all around us include motion detecting/ smart lights, smart TVs, smart speakers, and thermostats that are... you guessed it.. smart. Most things with the smart label really.

First Impressions

Upon opening the box, you are immediately presented with the manual and the various components of the kit laid out nicely.

As a hardware newbie myself, I was glad that the wires were colour coded and input pins were all labeled, allowing for super easy connections to the various sensors!

Another thing I immediately noticed was the great manual, with several projects laid out to make the user more comfortable with the kit. These projects are highlighted below.

Air quality monitoring station

Feel like you are smelling the haze again? Well, hold on to your pitchforks, because with this station, you can confirm your suspicions! In just a couple of minutes, even a complete beginner to IoT devices like myself was able to get it up and running with the help of the manual.

The station itself, although minimalistic, was pretty useful, with the dust reading presented to the user in intervals as defined in the code. I think it's good to mention here that the OLED display provided is pretty good quality.

Environmental noise detection

Co-workers almost always seem to be making noise? Want to approach your boss about it but you don't have any evidence? This IoT kit is here to save the day! Again, another extremely minimal setup with just the OLED screen and the Noise sensor attached.

Now it's super easy to tell if the noise levels are getting beyond acceptable levels. You could even set it to start beeping when the noise exceeds a certain threshold to warn your co-workers to quieten down. Although that may just lead to an infinite loop of beeping....

Weather condition detection

Need another excuse why you are late yet again? Or perhaps need another excuse for skipping out on that exercise session for the 20th time in a row? This kit may be the one for you!

Again, in a couple of minutes, the user is able to see the temperature, light intensity, and humidity values in the single OLED display! A real easy way to check if the day is worth getting out of bed for.

Automatic irrigation detection

Forgot the water that plant you got last year in hopes of brightening up your room? With this setup, you may never have to worry about that again! Through a combination of the soil moisture and water level sensors to relay to the micro:bit if a plant needs watering and a servo connected to a water pump, the sensor can automatically water the plant when the soil is drying up! Unfortunately didn’t have any plants to test it with, but the setup of the sensors is as such:

You could stick the IoT device on the plant pot itself to make it an ultra portable automatic watering system!

Self defense monitoring station

Planning out a surprise for your friend and want to be alerted when he/she is around the corner? This setup may be perfect for you. With just the ultrasonic and the PIR sensors, you have a super tiny way to alert yourself of someone approaching around the corner. Your friend won't know what hit him!

And with that ends the setups that are laid out in the manual. Let's move on to some advantages and disadvantages of the device.

Advantages

One major advantage of the kit would be its ease of use! For a hardware/ IoT device newcomer like myself, the precise instructions laid out and easy to use colour coding and labels made the product a pleasure to use!

Another clear advantage would be the unlimited potential use cases with the kit. With the diverse combinations of sensors and other components, it supports several projects. Perfect for letting your mind run wild!

Disadvantages

The kit itself is not friendly for the absolute beginner. Want to know how to flash the micro:bit with the newly created program? Too bad. Although not that big of a learning curve, if you are completely new to programming or even electronics, you might want to start off with an easier kit, or be mentally prepared for a steeper learning curve with this kit!

Conclusion

All in all, the kit is extremely versatile, and has limitless possibilities. It is also especially good for someone curious to explore IoT, as you can play around with several sensors to create many projects!

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