littleBits Review

I recently stumbled upon littleBits, ‘an opensource library of electronic modules that snap together with tiny magnets for prototyping, learning, and fun’.

In simpler terms, it is a collection of tiny circuit-board pieces (‘modules”) that you can mix around depending on what you want to create. Each module has a specific function. There are modules that allow for an input, such as a motion trigger, a slide dimmer, a button, etc, and others that produce a certain output, such as light, sound or vibration. One of the modules is a DC motor so you can even make things such as toy cars! Here’s a whole list of modules.

These modules only snap together if the circuit is correct so it is perfect for tech-illiterate geek wannabes like me. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that this product was available online in Singapore, at a much cheaper price than on the US website. (I later found out that my secondary school classmate is an investor into littleBits. What a coincidence!)

I ordered both the starter and extended kits (they had different modules inside) and I received the kits two days later via courier.

littleBits box

Here’s what I found in the kits-

starter

Starter kit-

  • 9V battery, battery cable and power module
  • wire (to lengthen the circuit if necessary)
  • pulse (sends out current at regular intervals – the frequency can be adjusted by a tiny screwdriver in the box)
  • dimmer (turning the knob increases/decreases the current flowing through)
  • button (pressing it allows current through)
  • vibration motor
  • rgb led (an led light where you can adjust the contribution of red, green and blue, to give you the exact colour you want)
  • led
  • pressure sensor (current flows through when the pressure pad picks up pressure)
  • bargraph (shows you how much current is flowing thought by means of a series of led lights)

extended 1
extended 2

Extended kit-

  • 9V battery, battery cable and power module
  • USB power module (allows you to use a usb port to power up the circuit)
  • slide dimmer (sliding the knob up and down changes the amount of current)
  • buzzer
  • toggle switch (an on/off switch)
  • wire x 2
  • light trigger (sends current through when there is light or when it is dark, adjustable using the screwdriver provided)
  • long led x 2 (not that ‘long’, in my opinion)
  • branch (allows you to branch into three outputs)
  • roller switch (a switch that stays open unless you press it)
  • dc motor
  • motion trigger (allows current through when motion is sensed)
I quickly pieced together a simple contraption for Samantha’s Makedo playhouse..within seconds, it was good to go!
littleBits trial circuitI think littleBits is a brilliant idea and just like Makedo, it promotes creative thinking in kids. By combining littleBits with art and craft ideas, endless fun toys/inventions can be made, limited only by imagination..and perhaps the parent’s wallet! (Each module can be bought individually and they range from $10 to $40!) However, I feel that the potential fun and cerebral stimulation the child will have during these tech-and-craft sessions far outweigh the costs.You might realise that the set that you can buy locally is a ‘retired’ set according to the US online store. I asked my friend (the boss) about it and he said it’s essentially the same modules, only in different boxes. Comparing both my boxes together with the ‘base’ and ‘premium’ kits available at the US online store, only the servo and sound trigger are missing, and in their place I get the toggle switch, USB power and motion trigger. Not too bad, I think. He also added that we can expect to order loose bits from him soon! Yay!

Where to buy:

  • The starter kit (of 10 modules) is going for $115 + $8 shipping
  • The extended kit (of 14 modules) is going for $180 + $8 shipping
Overseas: http://littlebits.com/Have fun!!

Disclosure: While I am friends with the investor of littleBits, I purchased the littleBits sets and decided to write this review because I think this product is amazing. I did not receive remuneration for writing this review.

Update (16 Dec 2013):
Now all the kits are available in the Singapore shop! New links updated.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s