Fun For Young and Old

One of my goals for the 2011/2012 Christmas break was having fun stuff to do with my daughters to cut down on the boredom and minimize slack-jawed TV watching.  While planning this out I stumbled across the Wayne and Layne kits, and the Blinky POV kit looked really nice.  It looked like a great kit to use to teach my daughter Mary (5) how to solder – it didn’t have too many components, it looked like it would be fun to play with when it’s finished, and I’m really, really intrigued by the “hold it up to the screen” programming method.

Right before I ordered the kit my Mom contacted me and asked for gift ideas for the girls. I immediately suggested this kit for Mary and sent my Mom the link to the project.  She said it looked like a great gift for Mary (which I expected) and she also said she really liked the idea of the Tactile Metronome kit (which I did not expect). I couldn’t pass that up, so I bought both kits.

We decided that both Mom and Mary could learn together, so Mom brought the Metronome kit over with the intention of both of them working on it.  We started with soldering some resistors onto a junk PCB I got in an order from Evil Mad Scientist Labs.  I added these to an order (for free) on a whim last fall and they were perfect to practice with.  It’s very cool that EMSL offers them.  I did a resistor to show them the basic action, then they each did a resistor.

I admit, I forgot she was left handed when I set this up...

This isn’t really a build report as I didn’t take many pictures of the steps, but the kit was pretty straightforward.  The seven segment displays were a little difficult to get positioned properly, and both Mom and Mary were not completely comfortable with how close the pins were, but they accomplished it.

Wow she looks older than she is in this picture.

Both Mom and Mary did great.  At the beginning they traded components and it went really well.  Mom needed no real help with the soldering and she definitely got more comfortable as we went.  Mary did really well.  We started with her attempting the solder on her own but we found she didn’t quite have the motor control yet to control both the iron and the solder, so we ended up doing them together, where I would hold the iron and she would apply the solder.  I’m really proud of how well she did.


We finished the kit in the time we had allotted and actually managed to get it to work!  Woo!  We didn’t have a lot of time to play with it (Mom took it home with her) but it definitely worked.  We initially tried using our fingers to tap the piezo but it didn’t really work.  We ended up using the handle of the angle-cutters, which worked great.  We got it to recognize steady rhythms and patterns, and the tempo up/down worked as advertised.  One thing I couldn’t figure out is the result of holding the buttons down while powering on.  First, I couldn’t tell a noticeable difference in the resulting tone when doing so (though I was in a very busy environment by the time I got to try it) and second, the W&L use page seems to confuse pitch and volume, so I’m not 100% sure if I should be expecting a pitch change or a volume change.

This was a great afternoon and I’m so happy my Mom spoke up about wanting to try the Metronome kit.  She and Mary both had a great time, and I’m really looking forward to building the Blinky POV with Mary now!

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