Review: Adafruit Industries’ DIY Kits
As a physics undergraduate, I never opted to take a circuit theory class. That never bothered me when I was a student. But now, as an adult, seeing the Maker movement in full swing, I’m kicking myself that I never got into electronics.
The TV-B-Gone is a simple device whose sole job is to turn off television sets. That might not be too useful at home, since you already have a remote for that. But, consider being out at a bar or restaurant or waiting room, trying to talk to friends or read in peace, while the incessant chatter of talking heads drills its way into your skull. (Why no, I’ve never experienced this, why do you ask?) The TV-B-Gone is a godsend.
The TV-B-Gone kit contains four infrared LEDs, driven by a microcontroller that contains the codes for all major brands of television sets. When you press the button, the TV-B-Gone flashes about 50 power-on codes in sequence, one after another. One of them should turn off the television, giving you the peace you deserve.
(Since televisions use the same codes to turn off and turn on a television, the same TV-B-Gone can be used to atone for your crime if you get caught.)
After about two hours of work I was finished, and ready to test my creation. I pointed the infrared LEDs into my phone’s camera, and I could see them flicker when I pressed the button. (Digital cameras can see infrared.) Success!
I liked this kit. The instructions were exceptionally clear, with plenty of photos. The printed circuit board was very clearly marked — if you’re soldering this kit, you have to really have your head in the clouds to mount a component in the wrong place. (And if your mind isn’t on your work, should you really be wielding a 700°F metal stick? Didn’t think so.)
The instructions also provided an intermediate step for testing the device half-way through the build. I understand this isn’t possible for some projects, but I liked having a point at which I could stop, take a break, and verify that what I was doing was working.
I have one very tiny complaint; I would have liked a little more of an explanation of why certain components are needed in the circuit. But I understand that this is a kit for beginners, and too much information might prove confusing.
I heartily recommend the Adafruit electronics kits. I’ll be buying one or two more kits for soldering practice before I start working on my own projects. I think I’ll try the Drawdio next, then perhaps the Conway’s Game of Life kit. If you want to buy the TV-B-Gone kit I’ve mentioned, go here.
And, dear readers, if I come over to your house and the television spontaneously turns off? It wasn’t me.