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Videos / Our Review of littleBits Gizmos and Gadgets Kit 2nd Edition

The new Gizmos and Gadgets revision 2.0 from littleBits is here and we've decided to review the kit for any budding inventors (or inventor's parents) out there.

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Hey Guys, Aidan here from Core Electronics and today we’re going to take a look at the Gizmos and Gadgets 2nd Edition Kit from LittleBits. Now if you guys haven’t seen LittleBits before I can tell you that they’re small magnetic electronic  bits and you can use them to assemble and create electronic circuits.  They’re really good for children aged 8 - 14, anywhere in that range, it’s a very very good way to get kids who know absolutely nothing about electronics into the world of science, technology, engineering and maths.

So what we’re going to do is take this kit apart, pull it apart and see what’s inside and see what you get with your LittleBits Gizmos and Gadgets Kit.  We’ll talk about the differences between Kit 1 and Kit 2 and then we’ll look at the LittleBits App alongside the guide book and see what sort of educational content you get with it. So lets get into it!

Let’s open this up, I really like the way LittleBits package all their kits, it’s really easy to throw them all back together when you need to. So you open this one up and you’ve got this book here. The book is really really really nicely put together, it’s got a lot of illustrations, it’s all fully color and it’s very complete so we’ll take a closer look at that in a second.

This is our parts tray and these are the little bits that you get in the kit, you get a couple of power bits, now a power bit is just a small blue bit.  It’s got a DC barrel jack on one end and a small power switch and the connection. So this is the beginning bit in the circuit you’re going to make.

Additionally you’ve got some green bits and the green bits are known as output bits. This is a small DC motor here, on the top of the DC motor bit we’ve got a switch that will allow us to select from counter clockwise to clockwise or variables in between to control the big bit. We’ve also got a fan, we’ve got a buzzer, we’ve got some slide dimmers, these slide so you can control the power level in your circuit. We’ve got a light sensor here, now that’s a bit of a special one, it’s got a switch on top where you can control if you’re going to control your circuit using light or dark. It’s going to react from light hitting the sensor or dark so that’s a special one. There’s another feature of that bit that we’ll go over in a second. You also get your wire bit, which is the orange one. The wire bits are just helping you to connect from one side of your output bit over to your power bit or something similar to that. So it’s a really simple way to just snap your circuits together - just like that.

So what else have we got? We’ve got a small servo motor here and there’s a couple of accessories of this servo motor in here and it’’s similar to the DC motor, we’ve got a couple of options. We’ve got a swing option on our servo motor where we swing back and forth or a turning option where we can control where its turning to in position to the servo.  We’ve got another DC motor which is really good for when we create cars and projects using 2 wheels so we can drive things around, so that’s a good one.  I hope the rain isn’t interfering too much with this today, it’s crazy in Australia down in Newcastle, we’re having a big storm out of nowhere today. 

Another bit we get is the barograph bit, you’ve probably seen this before if you’ve used LittleBits before, it’s got 5 LEDs and they just reflect the level of power in your circuit so if you connect this straight up to the power bit and you turn it on and you would see all 5 LEDs light up and if you had the slide bit in the middle and you moved it you would see a representation of the power levels.

Now there’s a few accessories you get with the kit, the centrepiece thing for our kit today is the Bluetooth bits, now these are super exciting bits and the first time LittleBits has ever included a Bluetooth bit. The idea of it is, you can connect it up to your phone using Bluetooth LE and it’s really simple to connect  it up, we’ll show you in a second, but the idea is you connect is up and then you can use your phone to control your invention or you can use your invention to control your phone. Things like your camera on your phone, we can make a switch out of your LittleBits invention kit that controls the camera on your phone or something similar to that. That’s a really impressive part of this kit and that’s a part that was not ever a part of Gizmos and Gadgets Part 1 and it hasn’t really been included in any of the kits we’ve seen so far.  We get a couple of wheels, that’s 2 wheels so we can connect that up to our DC motors using small motor mates you’ll find in this kit.

Now this kit actually comes with 2 of the mounting boards, now the first kit only came with these mounting boards, now the difference is with these boards is the ease with which you can connect your inventions up.  These mounting boards are for you to be able to just fit your inventions in and hold them there while you play with them. Usually you’ve got the prototype out on your desk and once you know that it’s ready to go you can clip it in your mounting board. So LittleBits have gone ahead and created a brand new design which is this see-through bendable design you can see here and it’s very easy to snap your parts in.

You get a couple of battery snaps for your batteries to connect to your DC Motor Mates, I’ve got an extra one in this Kit, this is one of the Kits we use in our Core Electronic workshops. Some of the accessories you get, like I said before we’ve got some servo accessories so they’re always really good for kids to be able to add on to their servos and integrate into certain inventions.I’ll show you guys how that works really quick, that’s our servo bit there, we can just snap that one on and there’s a couple of screws that hold that so now if you have that on servo turn mode you can be controlling it and you can attach something to the end of it. I’ve seen people attach pens and stuff like that and whack that on to a small driving robot and you can draw with a remote control robot, so that’s cool.

What else have we got, well we’ve got the wheel, a little ball inside a mount and you can use that on the front of any vehicles that you do create or something like that it just allows movement. Alternatively you can pop that ball out and use it in a bunch of different ways but we’ll get into that in a sec!  That’s all part of the guise book. You get some little plastic shoes which are always great to have, once you prototype your board out you might want to stick it on to your invention and not use the mounting board and this is the perfect way to do it. So you’ve just got small semi circular holes where your bits just clip straight into it, you get a handful of those. You get some Motor Mates which clip on to the shaft of your DC Motor Bit, we talked about these before, so they just clip on to the D shaped shaft and then that shaft can connect up to your wheel, which is cool. What else do we get? This brings us back to our light sensor bit, we get these small plastic screwdrivers and we can use those to change the sensitivity of our light sensor bit.  There’s a couple of other uses for these, in this kit I think this is the only bit that has the small adjustment wheel in there and that’s what you use the little screwdriver for and like I said you get a handful of those snap connectors.  In this bag here we’ve got some more screws and that was for the servo hub we saw before so if we want to connect a servo hub or connect our servo to maybe a mounting plate that will be what we will be using, and we get some glue dots, so the glue dots will be just a little crafty way to stick things to your inventions.

Underneath all of that you’ll see this pack here, now in this pack we have a bunch of cardboard templates. Now all these cardboard templates are used for guided inventions in our kit, so that’s always a positive when you’re buying a kit for a kid to use at home or maybe in the classroom and you don’t have to worry about cutting out your own templates, they come in the kit, so that’s good.  And theres a pack of stickers there, so you get some purple and white stickers which is always a fun part of it.

So this is the book that you get, its called the LittleBits Gizmos and Gadgets Kit Second Edition Invention Guide. So they way LittleBits always do their Kits, always, always, always, is they start off with the basics and they’ve pretty much been able to condense everything that’s important about LittleBits and the ecosystem down in to these two pages. So you can see there’s a little sample circuit where you just connect up one of each bit and you go through what they all mean. You then go through the anatomy of your bit including the direction that they run in and the orientation that you’ll be building them with and then you’ll get all the additional things like the magnetism of the bit and how that works.  You’ve got the order of the bit and how it’s important to have  green bits in your circuit because they’re the bits that allow you to tell theres something happening in the world because the  output bits do something. And then there’s the adjustable bits section so thats just taking about how the screwdriver can change things on the bits. The we go through our bit index and this is a really good way to look at each bit individually and see where it can be used in your circuit. First off you meet the bit, then you see how it works, you see a sample circuit and how it will all go together and then a real world analogy of that bit. So, for example, for the power bit a real world analogy would be a phone charger. They actually do that for every single bit that we’ve just looked through in the kit and it’s really really well done.  The centrepiece bit of this kit, like I said before is the Bluetooth so this is the spread of the Bluetooth bit and the way you’re going to use this is by connecting your Bluetooth application up to your phone so, it might just be a switch or it might be a motor or something so yeah, you connect that up to your phone and its a really simple process and we’ll do that in a second. Anyway, we’ll go through and we’ll take a look at the end of that section and we can see that we’ve got some helpful tools and materials, so these are extra things that you can grab to help out with your kit. Things like craft sticks and string, scissor, paper cups and all those things that you can cut up and use.

We’ve got the LittleBits invention Cycle  which is the core idea of LittleBits and how they work, you can go about creating a prototype then you can play with your creation until you figure out what the strengths and weaknesses or it were and then you re-mix that entire creation and you can add things in to cover those weaknesses or strengthen the strengths and then you share that using your LittleBits App. We are seeing more and more that the LittleBits App is actually quite important part of the LittleBits system so it would be great that if you would buy this kit and have the ability to throw in an iPad or an iPhone  along with the kit and that way the kids will be able to share their inventions and look up projects or all that sort of thing.

So we’ll just take a quick look at the first project, with this one we get a time limit on our project and then we get a difficulty level and it goes through the create steps explaining what to do with each step. Then we get to play with our creation and see how it works, so that’s this page here, it’s explaining how each part of the circuit works. Then we get to remix, so this is the idea of changing your invention in some way, this gets the creative and critical thinking caps on. Then we share our bits, hey I made this, hey I did this to make it a bit better and this is what it looks like and this is the fun that I had with it.  It’s a really cool way of doing it and I think that it really works. I know that in our LittleBits Workshops in the Core Electronics Knowledge Factory we’ve always had a really good reception from that sort of process of creating.

Toward the end of the book, so they were all guided challenges, I thinks there’s four guided challenges in the Bits kit, well in this book. There’s an additional eight or nine on the App, so they’re not included in the booklet but if you have the app you’ll get all of those, and then you get some challenges so the idea of this challenge is it’s an animatronics challenge and it encourages you to create stuff. So something where you’ve got lifelike animals or creatures that move around and they want you to use your kit to create something and then share it with the LittleBits community. So it’s a really cool way of doing it and it creates alot of pride in the students and they take pride in their learning and want to show it off and it’s just the best way to do it.  Right, so we get twelve more inventions on the LittleBits App which we have here and we’re going to take a look at it. Then we go to our Glossary which is a really quick run through of all the topics that are covered in the kit. Then some troubleshooting steps if you need them.

So let’s take a quick look at the app and how the Bluetooth Bit works. So when you first sign in to the app you’ll need a LittleBits account, so sign in to that one, and what we can do is go to our kit, enable notifications and that will send us notifications if there is any new projects available to be made with the bits in out kit. The important part we’re going to look at though is to go to our Bit Controls. So, once we’ve signed in using our LittleBits login we can go to the Bit Controls and we can select what we’re going to do. For our kit it is the Bluetooth Bit so we select that up here and we can use any of these controls, so we can control our cameral for example using this one, so if we can get a good picture of what’s happening on the screen there, all it’s telling us to do is to connect our Bluetooth Bit up to power. So i’ll grab one of our Bluetooth Bits out and I’ll grab a Power Bit out and I’ll slide it in just to prove a point, so get those all connected up and grab out a battery, remember that batteries are included in the LittleBits kit which is good. What we do is just connect all those 3 up , so to connect our Bluetooth  LE device we just whack it up against that green bit there and wait for it to connect. Ours didn’t connect automatically so there’s a manual connect option which is always good to know. Right, so what we’re going to do is control our device and what we might do is get a counter going. Right, so I’ve selected counter from that menu and then I click run now I can rotate the device to access the controls so what i’ll do is turn that one sideways and what we can see is that every time I increase the power supply to my Bit we see the counter increase so thats petty simple and easy to do. We can also control my Bit using say a button now all I need to do is whack something in series after that Bluetooth Bit, click on that one and run it so now I’ve got my counter going as well as my button on the same screen so if I press my button you can that the thing lights up. So that’s how simple it is to use Bluetooth, imagine an eight to fourteen year old using Bluetooth, they don’t have to worry about any connection settings all they have to do is go to the app whack it close and if that doesn’t work press the manual bit and  you’ve got a connection. I hope that this has really covered off on what you get with your Gizmos and Gadgets Kit and I hope that seeing the way the app works has really compelled you to want to go out and try it out for yourself and if you have any more questions about the Gizmos and Gadgets Kit or any of the other LittleBits gear jump on to Core Electronics and get in touch with us, if not leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you, thanks for watching guys and have a really good day :-)