A Kit to Teach Computers and Coding

The Piper Computer Kit. https://www.playpiper.com/pages/piper-computer-kit It looks like something I would have longed for when I was a kid. It reminds me of something that was started many decades ago. The various Science Lab electronics kit that was available at Radio Shack.


Things like it are still being made. Anyone play with something like it?

Would anyone here consider getting the Piper kit for their kids?

I used to have something similar, many years ago but when I was teaching my daughter basic electronics I went for something like this.


Much more flexible as you can choose components not in a kit and get them from stockists like Farnell or Radio Shack, if that is still going. It is also modular.

You need a few basic tools, pliers, cutters, a multi-meter and something to supply power (a small bench power supply or battery will do). If you want to get more advanced it starts to get expensive but is a good start. I am an electronics design consultant so my lab is much more extensive but this is a good way to start small

For software I am a big fan of the Arduino: A small single board computer with a very simple OS and decent libraries available to get you started. You can learn programming from the ground up and get a proper understanding of the hardware without being over burdened by Linux or Windows which while both are powerful neither really suits beginners unless you just want to play with very basic concepts using something like scratch.

If it’s embedded computing you’re thinking about, Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Express and their other M0 and M4 based boards are great because of their price and flexibility, since they can be programmed in Arduino, CircuitPython and MakeCode (which has a block-based web interface for it’s underlying Javascript). For other, more PC based stuff I’d find a cheap laptop somewhere and play around with something Linux-y.

I was just thinking that this Piper kit may be well suited for kids whose parents don’t have a clue to how things work either. It’s a bit expensive, but it seems okay. At a glance at least. I remember the Science Fair kits having in the instructions a fair explanation as to how and why electronics work. The one pictured was newer than the one I was familiar with.

This is probably true and the advantage is that it comes with a book containing several circuits to build. The similar, though not identical, kit I had as a kid was poor in that while the book gave lots of circuits to build it did a poor job of explaining the theory. Lets hope this one is better.

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