Awesome Stuff: Monthly Maker Kits

from the innovation-subscription dept

Some truly DIY-inclined people never run out of ideas, and are always brimming with projects they want to undertake. The rest of us occasionally need a nudge in the right direction, and for that there’s Thimble, a monthly maker kit delivered to your door.

The Good

How many people have picked up an Arduino in a moment of excitement, only to realize they didn’t really have any plans for it? How many Raspberry Pi boards are sitting unused in drawers? My estimate is: lots. The potential of these maker staples is obvious and exciting, but realizing that potential is a step that’s a bit harder to take, and that’s where Thimble comes in. Thimble offers a monthly subscription for maker kits that use Arduino, Raspberry Pi and other components to create cool projects that you can start doing right away. Everything’s neatly packaged with all the parts and instructions you need, and these aren’t just pre-fab snap-it-together sets: they are real, fun maker projects to be carefully assembled and programmed. The instructions cover the entire process — the first kit, which is for a small wi-fi controlled robot, takes you all the way from soldering the basic components to coding a smartphone control app.

Electronics kits and other such tools have been around for a long time, but the subscription model opens up new possibilities. Rather than needing to cram a generic kit full of enough generic gear to build multiple things, take them apart, and build them again, Thimble can custom-craft each kit and continually introduce people to specific new skills and projects that leave them with functioning fruits of their labor.

The Bad

Part of me wonders if a monthly subscription might just be a little much — a lot of people aren’t going to have time to dig into and complete a new project that often, and a backlog of Thimble boxes would quickly become just as intimidating as that drawer-bound Arduino you never learned how to use. Meanwhile, at $70 per kit, a monthly subscription is no small commitment. I suspect that as the company grows, they will have to offer some more flexible options such as less-frequent deliveries and the easy ability to pause and resume subscriptions, or simply “opt in” during months when you have the time.

The Students

Of course, it’s pretty clear that while this could be a lot of fun for adult hobbyists and even serious makers, the true beneficiaries are going to be students who are still just setting out on this path. The kits look like great teaching tools, and would certainly be a step up from the dusty bins full of tangled bits of wire and half-broken circuit components that I remember from high school tech class. Thimble’s future may well lie in partnerships with high schools, student clubs and other places where the next generation of makers are learning the skills they need.

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Comments on “Awesome Stuff: Monthly Maker Kits”

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Anonymous Coward says:

open source?

these guys already offer a more “laid back” option to monthly — they’ll ship a kit to you on whenever you want one (just not more frequently than monthly).

but… didn’t see where these projects are open source? and under what license? did I miss that part? they say “hackable” or whatever, but if they only let you “play” a little with it — that’s not teaching the right stuff to kids, is it?

annonymouse (profile) says:

If any school actually went for this they would be audited for fiscal irresponsibility.

There have been learning kits available for years at a fraction of the cost but without the benefit of a wifi enabled controller.

The grade sschools that I know that have any such programs today use the latest iteration of the LEGO system because it can be reused and redesigned repeatedly. Highschool kids design and develop their own sensor modules and house them in 3D printed assemblies. 1 That beats the hell out of an overpriced one shot kit.

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