We Did It!
Thanks so much for donating! Olopede has turned from dream to reality! It's happening!
Don't stop donating, though! If we get more than $1500 we can drastically increase our inventory so that we can sell more kits! Increasing our inventory means decreasing the chance of having to backorder, so you get our kits faster! It also lets us buy in bulk: saving about 20% per kit.
If we get enough money, we might even be able to do a 5th kit!
What is olopede?
We're the family of insects bringing education back to DIY Electronics. olopede kits are specifically designed to make the oh-so-familiar "black box" kits, parts, and widgets "transparent" to the inquisitive mind. Not only do our kits deeply encourage an understanding of fundamental electrical engineering concepts, but they also challenge the hacker to design circuits that suit his or her needs using a combination of the kits and concepts that we supply. Our kits are designed to demonstrate an interesting application of electronics AND serve to be readily understood by those dabbling in the field. By making our kits interesting and didactic, we hope to engender interest and understanding in not only electronics, but also technology and engineering in general.
Although we have many kit ideas that we would like to pursue in the future, we are focusing on 4 kits for our initial release. We have working circuits for all 4, we just need to develop and test PCBs to build the kits. Getting prototype PCBs done is pretty expensive, and this has been holding us back a bit.
oloduino - Our Arduino clone that focuses on teaching microcontroller-level programming while providing tools for a variety of projects. Unlike the standard Arduino, this guy literally snaps apart into 3 components: a power supply, a USB microcontroller programmer, and a breakout board for the microcontroller that makes it easy to hook things up. Each component is useful in its own right, and can be used independently of each other. The power supply draws power from either a USB port or a DC wall wart and regulates 5v and 3.3v supplies, two of the most common voltages used in electronics projects. The programmer connects over USB and is equivalent to a $30 commercial version. It also doubles as a USB-to-UART serial converter, which allows the microcontroller to talk to the computer, like it does in an Arduino. And at the heart, the AVR microcontroller is like a customizable mini-computer that can do all sorts of things. This kit helps introduce computer-level programming by letting people play with low-level code and quickly see the effects.
Turing - We've designed a kit that mimics the functionality of a Turing machine, one of the most primitive types of computers. Despite its simplicity, given the right program and enough time, it is functionally equivalent to (almost) every other type of computer! The kit is modular, and can be a standalone kit, or act like an Arduino "shield." The tape is also represented by a string of LEDs controlled by shift registers, creating a modular, linear display that can grow to be really really really long. The modules can also be re-used to make other things, such as a small sign or video display. The kit explores the fundamentals of computer science, and provides a fun challenge for all levels -- even for the experienced.
Fungen - We've designed a pretty high quality function generator that breaks the average waveform emitter into a bunch of easy-to-understand modules. Each module is designed to interface with the other modules and kits, and is fully functional on its own. This function generator is purely analog and was designed to help intuitively grasp concepts like oscillation and feedback. We wanted to keep the kit as transparent as possible for you, so we decided to substitute the widely available 'function generator' IC's with fundamental components that are easily understood, and as it turns out, gives you more freedom with your function generator. The combination of small modules built from black-boxless components gives us at olopede a great way to teach about analog design and abstraction.
Ampliflier - Everyone needs an amplifier at some point, whether it's for a guitar, robotics, control signals, or light (what do you think the 'A' stands for in L.A.S.E.R.?), but not all amps are created equally! We came up with a few amplifier designs to suit (nearly) all of your gainy needs, whether it's audio, power, or signal amplification. The amplifier is another example of a fundamental component in both analog and digital design that the maker really needs to understand. These kits are designed so you can take the lids of those black box amplifiers you have lying around and gain a deeper understanding of the analog electronics behind them. Let olopede help you put your understanding where your amps are. Plus, these amps go to eleven.
We also have a microPOV kit that we're giving away with the $20 and $100+ rewards. It's an exclusive little widget that displays messages as you wave it through the air, based off of miniPOV3, but really small. We'll assemble it for you if you want (small parts can be tricky) and set up to 5 custom messages. In order to change the messages, however, you'll need an AVR programmer.
Completely, totally, Open-source Hardware
All of these projects and their extensive documentation will be released under Creative Commons by-sa licensing, so anyone can build off our work. Shortly after we release the kits, we'll make everything available through our website and through github. However, if you donate enough, you can get access to the repository before then!
Our kits are designed to be independent and not require any prior knowledge. Anyone can start learning about electronics through our kits, and a few basic tools. By stepping through how they work, the kits are approachable on multiple levels. We also aim to provide excellent one-on-one support for our kits and customers, so that they can successfully complete the kits.
Thanks for considering our project. The more money we can raise, the faster we can get new kits out there. We have tons of ideas and prototypes, but for now we're focusing on just 4. We really want to get our kits out to experimenters, hobbyists, and the WORLD!
- (33 days)