Review: Creation Crate

For Christmas I received a subscription to the Creation Crate

https://mycreationcrate.com/

Month 1 arrived under the Christmas tree and I got to work on it straight away. It came with an Arduino Uno board, a breadboard and a bag of parts. My task was to create a mood lamp. And I did! Ooooo shiny.

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I followed the nice instruction booklet to put together my breadboard and downloaded the code onto the Arduino Uno board.

 

The Good

This is great little box of electronics and I’m already looking forward to month 2. I got to play with a light dependent resistor, LEDs and a resistor. It was easy to setup. The instructions were very detailed. I got the code working first time. If you’re looking for an electronics project that you can easily complete: this is it.

The Bad

I have no idea what a light dependent resistor is. I have no idea what a resistor is. I used a 2.2k resistor… why?? I don’t know why I put the wires where I put them. Basically I learnt nothing from this month’s box. I was hoping that this would be an introduction to electronics with an explanation of what a resistor is, what a breadboard is and how they work. Unfortunately it’s just a detailed description of what to put where to get this specific project working.

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Why??

The Confused

The creation crate is supposed to be for 12 year olds and up. The code worked without needing to edit or read it. But if you do read it – it’s way passed a 12 year old’s understanding. This is not simply turning on an LED but complicated formulae using variables, arrays and loops. e.g.

RGB[0] = power * abs(sin(x*(CommonMathVariable)));

I may have learnt something if the code came in stages, e.g. Stage 1 – Turn on one LED. Stage 2 – Turn on two LEDs. Stage 3 – Find out the light level of the room.

There are also no instructions on how to use the Arduino environment – how to print or read test messages to and from the serial monitor.

Finally…

I was hoping to learn some useful electronics with this subscription box but unfortunately all that happened was I got some instructions on what to put where without any detail on why. Without knowing why I put the wires where I did I can’t move on from this project. I can’t reuse these parts into a project of my own. I am not learning but just reproducing. I find this happens a lot in the maker movement. A lot of well-meaning people are creating great instructions on how to build specific projects. They have the electronics skills to setup these boards but I don’t, and never will unless people start including the why into the projects.

Creation Create describes how it works as “You subscribe, We deliver, You Learn” Two of those three things happened this month. I doubt the format is going to change next month, but I’m still looking forward to my next delivery.

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