By Invitation Only - Minode Kit - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: STEM micro:bit - Minode Kit

Author: lorrainbow

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?:

What were the biggest problems encountered?: There is no simple how-to guide on how to use this kit.

Detailed Review:

The mi:node kit is a really attractive looking kit. Each sensor has it's own slot in the box and the colour scheme is colourful and friendly.

 

It comes with a small booklet but this doesn't specify where to go to find out more. The element14 page that sells the kit also doesn't have any links to lesson plans or code blocks.

A quick google gives you a comprehensive booklet from Farnell: http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/2551715.pdf?_ga=2.160216059.7971154.1520321820-521448588.1473107271

It's really thorough but not very child-friendly. I think a non-computing parent would be pretty stuck on what to do with this kit without ideas/sample projects to look at.

 

The sensor boards could do with some more formatting. On the back of each board, it says the name of it. But in some cases, this isn't obvious what it does, e.g. DHT11 ??

On the front of the light sensor it has a switch - what does the switch do?!

 

Also, some boards only go into specific slots of the connector board - this could have been specified on them as well as in the booklet.

 

There's a lot to do with this kit. Plenty of sensors and outputs to play with. It comes with:

  • Light Sensor
  • Speaker
  • Temperature and Humidity Sensor
  • Sound Sensor
  • Mini Fan
  • Relay
  • Rotary Angle
  • PIR Motion Sensor
  • Switch
  • RGB LED
  • Orbit Fan
  • DC Motor

 

Kids love the mini fan. When it starts, they just get so excited!

 

All the sensors can be easily slotted into the connect board and a micro:bit also slots easily into the middle of the board. The whole setup is very neat and compact. It comes with plenty of connecting wires to connect multiple devices. It also comes with a micro USB cable which is very useful. Physically, it's very easy to use.

 

This is a brilliant kit for young children and novices with no electronics skills. The connectors are very easy to use and are really solid. It would be difficult to break one. It's great that someone with no electronic skills can use all of these sensors without having to wire them up/add resistor/use a breadboard.

 

The only sensor I don't like is the Relay. With no example projects, this looks like a pointless connector! You can use it to control high voltage devices but that's not clear in the kit and obviously, one is not included!

 

Using the kit I made the following:

- the fan turns on when the temperature went over a certain level

- the speaker makes a noise when the sensor is breached

- the RGB light comes on when it gets dark

 

As I'm familiar with the micro:bit and can do programming I was able to create these using the farnell guide above. If you're a programmer but know nothing about electronics you'd really like this kit. It really needs a more user-friendly guide for schools with example projects.

 

 

Cost wise:

While there are a lot of parts to the kit I don't think the price reflects the value for money. It's very expensive. It doesn't include a micro:bit so that's an added expense.

Anonymous
  • Hi , just some polite feedback, and I'm not here to insult your intelligence- I know you're quite smart and on e14 Presents(there's a reason why I follow you on twitter!)

     

    From the way you wrote "mi:node", I'd assume this is a kit for the... micro:bit?

     

    I'm not going to be very harsh and criticize you at every sentence...


    I've only done one roadtest but have read many others, here are some of my thoughts...

    Perhaps you can add an image of them, the packaging, the board, sensors, etc...

     

    Build quality and even outer packaging is a very important part in selection, and since a RoadTest is to act as a review, for customers to decide whether or not the product is good.

     

    You do describe what is included and also some flaws in description.

     

    (I'd assume you could easily recognize these thanks to your experience with these.)

     

    Also, perhaps you could describe and upload images of a project with this, to show what you could possibly make, and also more pragmatic statements/views on the possibilities of this kit.

  • In the list of parts, you say that the kit comes with a "Mini fan", an "Orbit fan" and a "DC Motor". This is a bit confusing as the "Mini fan" module consists of a control board, a DC motor and an orbit fan (i.e. the fan blades assembly) - it's not an additional component.

  • The only sensor I don't like is the Relay. With no example projects, this looks like a pointless connector!

    The relay contacts are just a switch and can be used to switch low voltages too, so you can use them to turn on and off all manner of low voltage devices. The nice thing about the contacts is that they are electrically isolated from the coil that controls them, so you can wire them into other circuits without worrying that those circuits will blow up your processor.

     

    Say you had an old device that runs on a 9V battery and the battery is wired inside to a switch so that it can be turned on and off. If you wired the relay contact across the switch then the processor could turn the device on and off too. If you show us a photo of the board, we can suggest how to do that in more detail (ie draw you a picture). So there are loads of things that you could do with it. Most children would have some discarded battery-operated toys that could be safely  hacked about without anyone worrying too much, wouldn't they?

     

    If you tried that and added it to your review (with instructions, pictures and a 10-second video) it would be a really useful resource for others.

  • Nice review!! keep it coming

     

    Cheers

  • The brick style modules are common and in use elsewhere.

     

    Yes there are no details on the back of each about what it does, but it is in the manual associated with the part.

    http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/2551715.pdf?_ga=2.200507310.1497839822.1530952795-413386532.1519621581

     

    It goes on the show what it does in the Block API

     

     

    Light Sensor

    It does show a switch, but then claims it is only usable on Analogue.

    I suspect it will allow it to become a digital output when the level reaches a certian amount.

     

    Similar to this

    https://www.itead.cc/wiki/Light_Sensor_Brick

     

     

    I would have liked to see more images, and interaction in this review.

    Especially if there were issues with children (the intended target) having issues with code or understanding the instructions.

    They do appear to require a little more work.

     

    The biggest concern I have in this manual is the relay.

    This is NOT suitable for switching mains voltages

    The example should concentrate on 12v or 9v, and NOT mention mains voltages.

     

     

    So I think there is some more work required by the suppliers, including one of the links not working.

     

    Cheers

    Mark

  • Essentially, I agree with DAB. To be honest, I am not a judge but expressing my personal opinion it is not a road t st at all. Inacceptable because I think impossible:

    • That you never read a product review somewhere else
    • That you was not able to make some photos of what you have done, at least with a smartphone
    • That you have never read, at least bcause curious, how roadtest here are done
    • That you have not read the plenti of recommendations on how to make and write a road tto st and what is the minimum required to do so

    frankly this is a very sad result, IMHO

    Enrico

  • With all of the superlative adjectives, I expected to see a lot more in this review.

    How about some pictures and circuit diagrams showing us the configuration.

     

    As for the relay board, you could easily set it up to turn a lamp on or off under computer control. You make it sound like you really do not know the value of relays. Trust me, they can be very useful for home automation projects.

     

    You could also show some of the kids enjoying the product. Share some stories of what they liked best.  Was it the flashing lights, the ease of use or just the opportunity to play?

     

    Also, you could show some pictures of the software User Interface to show how easy it was to use and understand. What did your code look like. How were the debugging options, can you single step through the code, set breakpoints or watch variables change?

     

    There is so much information you could share with the community about this product.

     

    I suggest you do an update with more elaboration.

    Thanks

    DAB