This adorable educational kit builds STEM skills as it grows from a simple project to a programmable friend.
If you’re looking to get your child or student interested in the STEM fields, the Soldering Sunday crew has got the answer. Not only is it probably the most adorable DIY kit we’ve ever seen, but Pixel Pals are an extremely easy and fun way to learn about electronics. Following in the footsteps of his friend Chip, Buzz is the latest addition to the ‘Planet M’ bunch.
“Many electronic kits do not offer anything more than a battery and a LED. Once completed, those kits end up in a drawer, never to be used again,” the team writes. “At the other end of the spectrum, there are electronic kits that are really interesting but have so many parts and instructions that they are intimidating. That is why we designed Buzz and the Pixel Pals to be simple to assemble, easy to use, and to be compatible with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and dozens of other platforms.”
What’s really nice about Buzz is that he grows with the user. Like the rest of the Pixel Pals, the platform is designed in such a way that it enables a young Maker to develop their skill sets, despite their experience level, transitioning from simply an instructional kit to a soldering tutor to a friend that you can code.
Each Pixel Pal comes with an open source, ATtiny85 based board that Makers can build and program themselves. It is equipped with a USB interface and uses the familiar Arduino IDE. Simply plug Buzz into the aptly named Brain Board, connect it to your PC, and program away. On top of all that, it includes touch and light sensors to add an extra layer of interactivity to your Pixel Pal. When not connected to USB, it can still work off a single coin-cell battery.
It is also worth mentioning that the Brain Board has a header, meaning Buzz can be plugged directly into a Raspberry Pi or Arduino. The ATtiny85 is pre-loaded with the Micronucleus Bootloader, allowing the Brain Board to be programmed just as you would any other Arduino, whether that’s controlling his LED eyes or adding sound to your cute character.
“The Arduino and Raspberry Pi are excellent next step to work on larger projects and to dive deeper into the world of circuits and hardware,” its creators add. “Just as with all the Pixel Pals, Buzz grows with you in your skill and interest level and plugs into Arduino and with the Pixel Pi Adapter, plugs into Raspberry Pi as well.”
Each Pixel Pal character kit ships with four sets of LEDs — blue, red, green and yellow — along with a battery board and display stand. Intrigued? Head over to Buzz’s Kickstarter page, where Soldering Sunday is seeking $5,000. Delivery is expected to begin in November 2015.