It can be pretty overwhelming to get involved in electronics, and getting your hands on easy-to-follow beginner material can be quite a feat in and of itself.
While Digilent has just recently launched the new Learn Site that is dedicated to teaching beginners, students, and hobbyists alike, it is always good form to share a great find, and the Discover Electronics Kit from Sparkle Labs qualifies! If you’ve had even the slightest interest in getting your feet wet in the world of electronics, but struggle to find a good starting point, look no further; this kit is designed specifically for beginners. The Discover Electronics Kit contains all of the basic components and information needed to get those feet submerged in the proverbial ocean of electronics.
So what’s so neat about this kit? It covers the basics and progresses, introducing new components in each lesson. The instruction manual is packed with a lot of information: how electricity drives a circuit, how to read the colors of a resistor, how to choose a resistor to go along with an LED, how to read a schematic, and several sections dedicated to explaining the individual components and their functions. If you are anything like me, you have an easier time understanding things if it is demonstrated in a video, which they provide on their website to supplement the instruction manual (the manual also contains some pretty awesome pictures to help illustrate the material). They also have QR codes that link to each of the lessons on their website to make it easier for the user to access what they need if they end up getting stuck, which I found to be incredibly useful for some of the later projects.
I personally loved playing around with the projects, and the modern modes of teaching certainly grabbed my attention. I included a couple of samples of the projects I completed, as well as a video of my favorite project: the Atari Punk Console! Making irritating sounds is one of my favorite pastimes, and this was an incredibly fun circuit to play around with (the giggles in the video are coming from yours truly).
Digilent has a similar (albeit a little more advanced) starter kit that can be found on our product page. It comes with all of the basics that are included in the Discover Electronics Kit, plus a few more components that can be used for more intermediate and advanced projects. The chipKIT™ Starter Kit would be a great transition for those of you looking to move forward from the beginner projects!
The most important aspect of the Discover Electronics Kit is the encouragement to think and design on your own, which is integral in keeping users active and interested. It is simple to follow a manual and complete the included tasks, but venturing out on your own to come up with fun projects is the quickest way to become the tinkering expert you’ve been dreaming of. So if you are looking for a good starter kit, whether it’s for yourself or a gift, I highly recommend giving the Discover Electronics Kit from Sparkle Labs a try!