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We want to make electronics kits that TEACH and DO! Designed for makers of all levels of hackery, olopede will help you learn, design, and invent. Read more

Boston, MA Hardware
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pledged of $1,500 goal
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This project was successfully funded on July 10, 2010.

We want to make electronics kits that TEACH and DO! Designed for makers of all levels of hackery, olopede will help you learn, design, and invent.

Boston, MA Hardware
Share this project

About this project

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!

In the meantime, you can join our Facebook group or follow us on twitter to support olopede by spreading the word! You can also check out our site

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.

Our kits!

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!


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

Ask a question


  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    9 backers

    Thanks for being awesome and helping out! We'll list your name, link, or whatever under the 'Family' section of our website. You'll also get access to our community blog, where we'll post status updates and give you first dibs for getting our kits.

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    1 backer

    We'll send you a personal thank you card for helping us make this happen. We'll also send you some shweet olopede (Olopoda modularus) stickers.

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    1 backer

    GITHUB Solo - Gain access to all of our project files and documentation before they're released! Watch the kits grow! If you've got the parts you could even use our layouts to make your own kits before ours are released. Note, however, that this option doesn't come with anything else: see below for the more fun package.

  • You selected
    Pledge $20 or more

    3 backers

    GITHUB - Besides a thank you card and stickers, we'll also hook you up with github access to all our project files and documentation. If you have the parts, you could make our kits yourself way before they're released. Or, fork our project and start your own line of kits!

  • You selected
    Pledge $30 or more

    5 backers

    MICROPOV - On top of everything so far, we'll also send you an awesome little widget: the microPOV! We can even build it for you! Flash messages about how awesome you are for supporting us (or how much you love olopede!)

  • You selected
    Pledge $45 or more

    17 backers

    GET A KIT! - Get a kit! Choose from any of our starting kits, and we'll send you it before it's released to the public. You'll also get an awesome thank you note, stickers and github access.

  • You selected
    Pledge $55 or more

    2 backers Limited (23 left of 25)

    LESSONS - Get everything above, and lessons! We'll be glad to meet with you either in person, or over skype or IM to help you with anything electronics related for an hour or two. It could be about the kits, extending them, or your own hobbyist project.

  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    4 backers

    TWO KITS! - Can't decide which kit you want? Get two! Pick your two favorites, and we'll send them out as soon as they're ready, along with a heartfelt thanks and some awesome stickers. You'll also be able to combine the kits to make something really cool.

  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    2 backers

    EXPERIMENTER'S PACK - Get your choice of 2 kits, and we'll throw in a personalized set of extra goodies to do your own projects with. Maybe some microcontrollers, extra ICs, or whatever you'll need to build something amazing.

  • You selected
    Pledge $175 or more

    3 backers

    Love tinkering? Get EVERY kit in the initial set! We'll also throw in some fun extras so you can merge the kits together into an awesome überproject!

  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    LESSONS++ - Get everything in the tinkering kit, BUT MORE! Meet up with us for a day, and we'll work through the kits, help you with your own projects, and just experiment with electronics. (Boston/Cambridge area only)

  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    0 backers

    For being such an integral sponsor to our project, we'll send you everything in the tinkering kit, PLUS a custom metal-worked sculpture of your favorite Arthropod. (Or another phylum, if you're really obsessed. We won't cry that much.)

Funding period

- (33 days)