Sparkfun takes roadtrip across US in campervan full of electronics
Forget coding, everyone should learn to solder
Component retailer Sparkfun has bought an RV and will be touring all 50 US states to take electronics into the classroom, though the company's motivation is notably suspect.
The tour will run over the summer, and the Sparkfun crew will attempt to visit at least one school in each state with three or four staffers, a professional educator, and a big bag of electrical components from which up to 30 kids can build stuff, assuming someone stumps up the $1,500 cost of the visit, rising to $2,500 per class after the first 50.
An RV full of electronics, coming to a classroom near you
Normally such tours are little more than advertising projects wrapped in good intentions for the sake of the media, but Sparkfun appears to have inverted that model and keeps trying to tell us the tour has a solid commercial basis in advertising and promotion, when in reality it sounds like staff fancy taking a road trip and wanted to buy an RV.
Sparkfun originally tried a kickstarter project to fund the tour, but that failed to raise enough cash so is now asking schools to cough up the dough. The first 50 bookings will get a discount, as Sparkfun is subsidising the project to that extent, so anyone late to the party will have to pay the top whack of $2,500.
For the sake of comparison Generation Science, which tours Scottish schools in a similar vein, charges around £600 for a similar experience, though the electronic kits are extra (Sparkfun is handing out the hardware in class). But Generation Science lists sponsorship from 15 companies, 14 charitable trusts and the Scottish government, so one might expect lower prices.
Sparkfun sells all manner of electronic bits, and is very keen to get into the educational market, so there is some truth to the promotional justification, but mostly this seems like a load of geeks loading up an RV for a summer spent teaching kids how to wield a soldering iron, for which we can only salute them. ®
Re: "...starting in Hawaii....."
Well, if your project is going to get pulled pretty quickly due to lack of interest, Hawaii is exactly where you'd want to start the jolly. Ooops, I mean junket. Ummm, sashay. Etc.
"...starting in Hawaii....."
I'd have thought that, if you were after touring around a large country in an RV, an island seperated from it by 2,000 miles of ocean is probably not the best place to start.
Re: While electronics is great fun
Suricou -whoops your probably right there I was more thinking of educational electronics than just having fun. Though Angry Robot LED eyes can be obtained from any car park sorry scrap yard!
And while I advocate open source wherever possible pic controllers are soooooo much cheaper even if you pay for them - I've got a friendly washing machine repair man and ten minutes in his dustbin gives you enough 8 bit power - and a whole collection of other bits an pieces - to make your robotic tank cower in the corner.. just in case...
Re: While electronics is great fun
The two skills go together. You want to make a robotic tank equipped with an arsenal of nerf darts and beanbag launchers to do battle with friends? Then you'll need code. But you'll also need a solid understanding of voltage regulation and power management so the big motors don't ruin the supply for your delicate Arduino board, enough knowledge of fundamentals to spec a motor controller that'll drive them, and the means to make drivers that'll let an arduino output drive the solonoid hooked up to the pneumatic cannon. Code will only let you get half-way there and, while you can get a lot of the parts as pre-made module, good luck finding a set of pre-made Angry Robot Eyes LED displays to mount on the front.
First you get them to blink an LED using an circuit with two transistors and a few passives - no micro.
Next you get them to program a small micro (AVR/PIC)
Soon you have them flying drones and stuff.