About this project
Our Kickstarter campaign has ended, but you can still order your own Piper Toolbox at build.withpiper.com
It's a toolbox with a Minecraft adventure world that lets you build real electronics.
It's simple, fun and for everyone. And we need your support to make it happen. We made this just for you:
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What Can I Do With It?
Play an an awesome series of adventure maps in Minecraft
Build a controller to navigate your robot in the game
Assemble your own electronics to power-up mission control on the Raspberry Pi 2
Add switches to uncover secret doors and bridges
Make an LED light proximity sensor for finding diamonds
Use a buzzer piano to enter secret codes and find hidden rewards
Add motion detectors when traversing underwater levels
Switch on an LED flashlight to see at night
Build and customize your own beautifully engraved box
Decorate your Raspberry Pi 2 with a beautiful laser-etched acrylic case
Create your own custom levels and modifications to share with your friends
Pretty much anything else as Piper is end-to-end Open Source!
Who is Piper for?
Everyone! We’ve spent over a year building and testing Piper to make it simple enough for anyone as young as 5 and as old as 75 to play!
Regardless of your experience with Minecraft or physical engineering, we've created something that you can pick up and start playing right away!
It's based on 3 principles:
Involves physical, hands-on building
Easy for anyone to get started (doesn’t require an instruction manual**)
Is as fun to play as other mobile and social games
We made Piper simple and intuitive so that nothing stands in the way of your creations.
Build electronics easily with real-time feedback in the game and use what you build to play and beat Minecraft.
Laser cut and custom designed plywood case with an inbuilt 7'' LCD Display
The newest and fastest Raspberry Pi 2!
Beautiful laser-etched acrylic Raspberry Pi 2 case
A powerbank that will power the screen and the Raspberry Pi for 5 hours of continuous game play
Cables to connect the screen, Pi and powerbank together
USB mouse with a cute retractable cable
An 8GB SD card that holds your game progress and creations safe
Electronics! (wires, buttons, lights, switches, sensors, tiny breadboards, and everything else you need to start building right away!)
It even comes with a Piper Screwdriver!
We believe that when you use electronics straight out of the box, you don't really own it or understand it. Somebody else made it for you to consume, so we wanted Piper to be different.
You first get to make and assemble the box, and connect the components (Raspberry Pi 2, Powerbank, LCD display) in order to start playing.
By building it yourself, you make it your own. You decorate, color, and arrange the pieces however you want. You learn how to make a fully working computer and then you think: "What else could I make with this?"
You are empowered to create.
How Does It All Work?
Now for the fun part. Once you turn on the powerbank, and boot up the Pi, you realize that you are sitting at mission control in a modified Minecraft world.
You are sending a robot to an unknown planet and on the way over his hardware is damaged.
Now it's your job to build his hardware in real-life, to control him on the screen. You first build his controller to navigate. The schematic on the screen shows you how to build and gives you realtime feedback as you add your buttons and wires correctly.
From there, it's up to you what you do.
Want to mine resources hidden in the lava lake? Build a switch to turn on a hidden bridge to take you there!
Searching for diamonds in the dark? Add a row of LED lights that serve as a proximity sensor. The closer to the diamond you get, the more lights light up!
With Piper we have already created more than 10 different hardware projects that you can build and create. Each one can give you power-ups, but the real question is: Can you beat the levels?
What else can you build?
- Motion detectors to control the robot when his controls stop working underwater.
- Buzzer piano to enter a secret Morse code
- LED Flashlight to see at night
- System of switches to control lava flow
- Buttons to activate secret doors, passageways and tunnels
- And anything else that you invent!
Replacing Screen-time with Build-time
Today kids grow up surrounded by technology and they play and consume it with ease. But most don’t know how to create with it. We think that by restricting kids to closed, black-box devices like tablets and phones, we deny them an opportunity to tinker and explore and develop their creativity.
We wanted to show kids that they can create real things and give them a fun way to do it. Not just consume apps or share photos, but build real things in real life that actually mattered to them. And the best way to do this, was to harness their love of Minecraft.
Any power-up you ever dreamt of having in the game, you can make by adding your own custom hardware. Finding diamonds in Minecraft is such a pain, but by building your own LED proximity sensor, the task becomes a lot simpler.
By the end of the process, the kids we worked with became a lot more confident about themselves as creators and builders. It doesn't take a lot to inspire a child to believe in herself. And we want Piper to be the first step. To give today's kids a relevant and fun way to become the inventors of tomorrow.
Sharing is Caring
You know what's even better than building something in Minecraft? Sharing what you built with your friends! Maybe you make one of the power-ups we give you, or tweak it and invent your own. We want you to share that with your friends, and let them try it out too. We are developing an interface that will allow you to easily share your Minecraft mods and custom worlds with others who have Piper so that you can build together.
And we want you to invent things we didn’t even think of, so we are using completely off-the-shelf hardware and electronics so that you can add literally any electronics components in existence to build your own cool power-ups!
We Love Pi!
Piper comes with the newly released Raspberry Pi 2, a revolutionary computer board that makes Piper possible.
Moreover, we've built the Piper end-to-end open source, from the design of the box to the code of the game.
The Raspberry Pi 2 can run Minecraft at the same frame-rate as your computer or iPhone, so there is no compromise in gameplay. The Pi also has easy to use GPIO pins which allow you to add your hardware and gadgets to alter Minecraft.
Another really awesome part of using the Pi is the huge online community that has developed around it. We know that once Piper is released, there will be a community of tinkerers and creators who will make additional levels and add-ons for Piper. Let’s create together!
Iterate, Iterate, Iterate, Iterate, Iterate….
Engineering and building electronics aren't simple. But once you master them, you can make anything! So we had to make sure that Piper was easy to play, but still let you build real things. "Low floor, high ceiling, wide walls." The attributes MIT's Mitchel Resnick described as crucial for a learning platform to have.
So we tested with hundreds of kids, in dozens of schools all around the world to make sure that Piper was simple enough to play for anyone, but still allowed them to create complex gadgets. Every single aspect of our game has been tested and re-tested and we know that you will love it.
Check out some of the many, many iterations we've gone through to make Piper the awesome toolbox it is now!
Rewards We Really Like
So what do you get for supporting us? Check out these cool rewards that we would love to send you! There's also more awesome stuff on the right!
Who are We?
We're a team of hackers, builders and fun-lovers from around the world with expertise in STEM education, software development, curriculum and learning development, and hardware products who came together to make this all happen. A pretty attractive bunch, if I do say so myself.
The idea for Piper was born when Mark was playing games with kids in Ghana and thought that it would be cool to give them an inexpensive Raspberry Pi to hack and build with. He put some Pi's in a box with a screen, battery pack, and some games and sent these boxes to schools in Ghana, Kenya and India.
After Mark met Shree, the winner of the first Google Global Science Fair and STEM advocate the two began thinking of how to use Piper as a global platform to give kids all over the world an opportunity to build real gadgets in a fun way. They got their friends to help them, and eventually joined Zynga.org and co.lab to work with the best minds in game design to make Piper into a really special product.
To our dear Kickstarter backers,
We've been working really hard for the past year to create something that is really different and really unique. We want to let kids build. And not only to hook together wires and create hardware with a Raspberry Pi, but to inspire them for the future, in which technology will only get more pervasive and more complex.
We want kids to look at technology and be able to deconstruct it and reconstruct it in a way that can be better, more efficient, and really innovative to improve the world.
We've created Piper to be a way to get started, with projects to teach the basics, and an interface to let kids make Piper even more awesome themselves.
Our entire process has been based on talking to kids and parents and teachers, and then iterating repeatedly to arrive at the product you will love.
We're coming to Kickstarter as the platform to make it happen, because we want you to be part of it. To make it with us. To share our dream of giving our generation a way to look up from the screen, and build something in real life.
As a bonus...
We are giving you the Kickstarter early bird price of $149, and putting your name on the back of the box! Having worked with suppliers and logistics specialists for the past months, we're excited to begin shipping out the first batches of Piper to makers all over the world and we have our kits and some other really awesome rewards set up and ready for fulfillment once we reach our goal.
With our goal of $50,000, we'll be able to ship the Piper, keep the lights on and build out new levels to encourage kids all over the world to play, build and invent. Here's our production timeline, and since we've been working with suppliers for all our prototyping, we're on schedule to get your kits to you as per your orders!
Piper is more than just a tool to get you started with physically building hardware. With Piper we want you to look at the technology around you in a different way - as something to create with rather than something to consume. We want you to develop a curiosity for tinkering and a creativity for creating.
Because not only is it fun, but it's useful. With technology affecting every part of our lives, we think the future will be created by those who understand how it works. Join us and let's see what we can create together :)
Mark Pavlyukovskyy, Shree Bose, William Brown, Ruslan Klyuev, Benjamin Benavides, Alex Stokes, Mary Shao, Mehdi Imani, Jared Griffin
Made with love in San Francisco, USA.
Follow Our Journey
If It Wasn't For You Guys
We would not personally have been able to create Piper without huge trailblazers ahead of us - from amazing people like Dale Dougherty kicking off the Maker Movement to Notch, for creating Minecraft and giving us a platform on which to build. It's really a humbling experience to create something built off the work of so many others, and for that we just want to give a few major shoutouts to:
- Esteban Sosnik, Cameron White, Maureen Fan and Ken Weber of Zynga, Zynga.org and co.lab, who shared our vision for making technology fun to learn and provided the support to make it happen
- Ken Willers and Lisa Anthony and all the students and parents at the School of the Madeleine for working with us to make Piper great!
- Jan Robertson and the Mount Diablo School District for working with us to bring Piper to dozens of their classrooms
- Matt Richardson and the Raspberry Pi Foundation, for creating a platform that has revolutionized how we build hardware. We're excited to be using the newest Raspberry Pi 2 in our kits!
- Ananya Birla for supporting Piper from the very beginning, piloting with us in India and being an awesome friend and mentor.
- Mojang Minecraft and the Pi Edition, which we have been able to work with and modify for Piper.
- And to the countless other teachers and parents who have taken the time out of their schedules to support us to create something amazing.
And finally (drumroll please)...
- The over 400 kids we've had the chance to demo with in the past year. Educating kids about hardware and technology was the inspiration behind it all, and without the feedback of kids playing and testing our (sometimes super buggy) game, we could not have made Piper as amazing as it is today.
Risks and challenges
Building a hardware product has its challenges, but we are a team with a lot of experience in making, shipping and delivering real, physical products.
Over the last 6 months we have worked with dozens of suppliers in the UK, China and the United States to secure our inventory, line up the assembly and shipping and cost out every aspect of the product to make sure we can deliver on time.
We are confident that we will get you your kits by the estimated delivery date, and probably before that, and we will keep you updated at every step of the process to make sure you know exactly what's going on.
We have already shipped over a dozen Pipers and gave our Alpha testers hands-on support throughout the process and we will provide the same for you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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