If you want to make something that can move independently, make sounds or light up, then you need to start tinkering with electronics.
A Gentle Introduction
No soldering or breadboarding required, and hardly any wires. Explore these brands for a gentle introduction to electronics prototyping, with parts that snap together like LEGO, and copper tape and conductive ink instead of wires.
littleBits is a hands-on learning system of electronic building blocks that allows students of all ages to create with technology. Their snap-together Bits are easy to use and simple to understand, no prior experience required. Get started with making with electronics without having to understand fundamental concepts such as current and resistance.
Both Chibitronics and Circuit Scribe have developed products to facilitate young makers exploring simple electricity concepts.
Getting Interactive with Micro-controllers
Microcontrollers are the brains behind interactive projects.
- Among the currently popular micro-controllers in the maker community, Arduino is the grandfather. It pioneered and drove the growth of many makers over the past decade. As an aside, it also comes with a dose of politics, with the co-founders involved in internecine conflict around 2014-2016 before coming back together as a family. Read up on the fascinating history of the platform and then start exploring. It is a preferred platform for many hobbyists and makers because of its low price and extensive community support.
- The Micro:bit project had the backing of many heavy-hitters including BBC, ARM, Samsung and Microsoft when it started. Unlike the Arduino, it was designed for education-first, and as a result, it has proven very popular in the classroom. A number of companies have built components and accessories on the micro:bit platform, including Elecfreaks, Kitronik, DFRobot and 4tronik.
- If you are invested in the littleBits' platform, make your littleBits projects a little smarter with the programmable Code Bit available with the Code Kit.
- While Chibitronics' Circuit Stickers are best known for their LEDs on a sticker that enables delightful paper circuit projects, Chibitronics also has a micro-controller called the Chibi Chip. It can be programmed via an Arduino-based text editor or the block-based MakeCode. And it uses a super cool way to send programs to the Chibi Chip: the headphone jack. So you can simply use your phone to program the Chibi Chip.
Kits and Prototyping Parts
Explore the electronics projects and kits that we have put together. They are self-contained activities that are fun and educational.
If you want to start from the basics, then we recommend browsing through these book recommendations:
- Getting Started in Electronics by Forrest Mims is a complete electronics course in 128 pages! The book starts from the basics, taking you on a tour of analog and digital components, explaining how they work, and showing you how they combine for various applications. It also includes circuit assembly tips and 100 electronic circuits and projects you can build and test. Also check out his series of Engineer's Mini-Notebooks.
- A friendlier introduction to Electronics comes from Charles Platt's Make: Electronics - Second Edition (Learning by Discovery). The book provides step-by-step instructions on building working devices that demonstrate fundamentals such as voltage, amperage, resistance, inductance, and capacitance with more than 500 full colour photographs. It also covers the more advanced concepts of analog/digital conversion, logic gates, and integrated circuits, with crystal clear explanations of what you're doing and why. Find it at NLB libraries in Singapore.