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Affordable, fun & interactive kit that teaches you how to solder as well as writing code. Learn how Infrared, RGB LEDs and sound work! Read more

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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on August 11, 2014.

Affordable, fun & interactive kit that teaches you how to solder as well as writing code. Learn how Infrared, RGB LEDs and sound work!

About this project

Two Space Buddies trying to find their way home
Two Space Buddies trying to find their way home

 After defeating the giant evil space bear Grizzlebutt, the Space Buddies were headed home to celebrate their victory. However, a wheel of fancy space cheese the size of a small asteroid hurled them off course, forcing them to crash land on the nearest planet: Earth.

The force of the mighty cheese wheel had knocked the ten Space Buddies so far apart that each one ended up in a completely different location on Earth in their musical spaceships of glory.

Unfortunately for the Space Buddies, the only way to get back to their home planet, Symphonia, was to open a hidden space gateway known as Vortex in G Minor. This special vortex could only be opened when all ten of their spaceships played their unique tune together.

Now they need your help to bring them together and re-establish communication. By collecting all ten tunes you can send them back on their journey home!

Each kit is a spaceship shaped PCB that comes with individual components that need to be soldered. When completed, the kit plays one of the ten tunes. Each tune has its own unique colour, which will pulse while the tune is playing. This gives the kits visual and auditory distinction from the other nine. 

By interacting with other Space Buddy kits, you can collect tunes which will be added to your Space Playlist. For each tune you collect, the corresponding colour becomes available on your Ship. 

Collecting all ten tunes will unlock the special eleventh tune needed to open the vortex to Symphonia. You can choose to reset the Playlist to the original song and start collecting again!

Prototyping code with the ATMega8
Prototyping code with the ATMega8

The kit has a lot more to it than just the fun Space Buddies game though! It is designed to be educational for everybody who wants an introduction to electronics, beyond learning how to solder. If you want to learn how the code works, and potentially change the tunes or even make your own game, a full step by step guide teaching you how each individual component works, with code samples, will be available online. This will require a programming device, however information about what you need to order, how to set it up and use it, will be available in the documentation.

The kit is completely open source, and the booklet has everything you will ever need to understand how it all works. It is completely open to modification, you can change the rules of the game, you could even change the kit to play a completely different game of your own making. The default game is great for parties and events, but it is by no means the only thing this kit can do! The only limit is your imagination.

Soldering

You will learn how to solder both regular components as well as small surface mount components. I will show you that it is not as scary as it might seem.

Circuits

The book I am putting together with this kit will teach you everything you need to know about the basics of electronics, flashing LEDs, how to generate sound, how sound waves actually work, and even how to send data from one circuit to another over infrared!

Programming

Everybody is learning how to write code these days, so why not join them? I am putting together a comprehensive tutorial on how to write code in the C programming language, and everything you need to alter the code on this kit and control each component the way you want to. Obviously the C programming language is quite vast and complex, so the tutorials will be mainly focused on interacting with this kit.

Uploading code to the prototypes for the first time
Uploading code to the prototypes for the first time

If you want to build your Space Playlist, you will need more than one kit. To collect another Buddy's tune, you need to hold your kit in front of the other kit while its tune is playing. Your kit will flash the corresponding colour to confirm receipt of the new tune.

What is actually happening is that the kits are transferring data via infra-red LEDs, pulsing data to each other.

A fair amount of work has gone into prototyping this kit, both in the design and the code. It is being made in such a way that it is easy for people for understand, and enjoy what it has to offer.

An early working prototype running on an Arduino
An early working prototype running on an Arduino
Thought process as the PCB shape was being thought out
Thought process as the PCB shape was being thought out
Finalised PCB shape and process flow
Finalised PCB shape and process flow
Fully Functional PCB Prototype
Fully Functional PCB Prototype
  • UFO shaped PCB
  • All the components you need
  • Digital or printed instruction booklet (depending reward tier). 
  • Code samples will be available online.
  • Video tutorials for all the soldering

To assemble the kit you will need a soldering iron, some solder, solder paste and a flux pen.

To change the code on the kit you will need an AVR programming device (included in some reward tiers).

If I reach £1000, I will hire an illustrator to help me make the Booklet/PDF have a beautiful and professional finish.

Risks and challenges

I have a fully working prototype, and I have also had professional PCBs manufactured in the past, so neither of these aspects are much of a concern.

I will be placing a bulk order for all of the components required to make up these kits, which is not cheap to do simply because of how many I need to order to get them at reasonable prices. I also am going to try to use a UK based PCB manufacture company, so the turn around time should be very quick with very high quality results.

A risk lies in my component purchases, where the suppliers might be low on stock on some of the components I am looking to order, which could cause a delay in me shipping out these kits. Although this is unlikely to happen, the drawback of this happening is a delay in dispatching my orders.

I will be very open about this entire project, so am more than happy to answer any questions or concerns around it.

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FAQ

  • This project will be covering the C programming language. However since there is quite a lot to the language, it will be mainly focused on everything you need to know to control the specific components on this kit.

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  • The online video will be there to teach you how to use a soldering iron, along with all the related safety precautions with using one. It will then also teach you how to solder regular and surface mount (very small) components, and finally how to assemble this kit for those of you who prefer to follow by example than to follow step by step instructions.

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  • This will be covered in greater detail with the online videos, but the basics to know are that lead-free solder is better to use as it's non-toxic however it is not as easy to melt as leaded solder. The entire kit is assembled lead free, and you are free to decide for yourself which solder you want to use, but please be careful not to inhale the fumes that come from using leaded solder. Also please note that the surface mount components will require you to purchase some solder paste and a flux pen. You can solder the smaller components with regular solder, but it is a lot more difficult to do so.

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  • This will be covered in greater detail with the online videos, but the the basics to know is that any soldering iron will do. For the surface mount components however you will need a nice flat or sharp tip, as this will make soldering the smaller components easier.

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  • To play the space buddies game, yes. Although, if you just want to learn how to solder, understand basic electronics as well as write code for the kits to potentially change the game or even make your own, then no. A minimum of two kits are needed to be able to send and receive data over infra-red however.

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  • Great question! I am looking to make a few of these kits regardless, because I think a lot of people will benefit from them, since they cover a wide range of skills, beyond just soldering. I am looking to raise funds is so that I can do a bulk order for components for the kits. The benefit of doing a bulk order is that I can keep the price down, making the kits much more affordable

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  • Some of you might represent a school, a makerspace/hackspace or some group which enjoy group projects and are looking to get more than 10 kits. Feel free to pledge on the 10 kit tier and add an additional £8.50 for each additional kit you would like. Obviously if you're after quite a large number of kits then please do contact me and I am sure we can work something out.

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  • With some of the tiers you will get a bundled AVR programmer. It's a pretty generic AVR programmer which works via USB - so you don't need to worry about having a computer/laptop with an old serial port!

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge £1 or more

    2 backers

    For just £1 (or more) you can feel good about supporting a UK based project that helps people learn electronics and programming.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge £5 or more

    10 backers All gone!

    Early bird special!
    For just £5 you can get a single kit with online instructions and code examples.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £10 or more

    3 backers

    A single kit with online instructions and code examples.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £15 or more

    6 backers

    For those looking to learn programming, and do not want to source an AVR programmer separately this is the kit for you!

    A complete single kit with printed instruction booklet, as well as online digital instructions. This kit also comes with an AVR programmer. Everything you need to get started!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £15 or more

    5 backers Limited (5 left of 10)

    Early bird special!
    Two complete kits with online instructions and code. A full interactive experience ready to go, you will have these two boards speaking to each other in no time!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £18 or more

    1 backer

    Two complete kits with online instructions and code. The full interactive experience ready to go, you will have these two boards speaking to each other in no time!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £30 or more

    3 backers

    For those looking to learn programming, and do not want to source an AVR programmer separately this is the kit for you!

    Two complete kits with printed instruction booklets, as well as online digital instructions. This kit also comes with two AVR programmers.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £85 or more

    1 backer

    Ten kits, each with one of the ten unique tunes. The only sure-fire way to get all ten tunes!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (30 days)