The SparkFun Inventor's Kit (SIK) is a great way to get started with programming and hardware interaction with the Arduino programming language. The SIK includes everything you need to complete 15 circuits that will teach you how to read sensors, display information on an LCD, drive motors, and more. You don't need any previous programming or electronics experience to use this kit.
The full-color SIK Guidebook (included) contains step by step instructions of how to connect each circuit with the included parts. Full example code is provided and explained and even includes troubleshooting tips if something goes wrong.
The kit does not require any soldering and is recommended for beginners ages 10 and up. The new V3.1 version of the kit includes the SparkFun Mini Screwdriver to secure your RedBoard to its baseplate and replaces the translucent red breadboard with an opaque white breadboard (now you'll be able to clearly see which socket you are inserting your hook-up wires into).
Note: We've found a few extra SIK V3.1 units while cleaning. We've brought this version back for a limited time only at a reduced price. Get them while you can, once they are sold out they won't be back!
This skill concerns mechanical and robotics knowledge. You may need to know how mechanical parts interact, how motors work, or how to use motor drivers and controllers.
Skill Level: Noob - You will be required to put together a robotics kit. Necessary parts are included and steps will be easy to follow. You also might encounter basic robotics components like bearings, mounts, or other hardware and need a general idea of how it goes together.
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Whether it's for assembling a kit, hacking an enclosure, or creating your own parts; the DIY skill is all about knowing how to use tools and the techniques associated with them.
Skill Level: Noob - Basic assembly is required. You may need to provide your own basic tools like a screwdriver, hammer or scissors. Power tools or custom parts are not required. Instructions will be included and easy to follow. Sewing may be required, but only with included patterns.
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If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.
Skill Level: Rookie - You will need a better fundamental understand of what code is, and how it works. You will be using beginner-level software and development tools like Arduino. You will be dealing directly with code, but numerous examples and libraries are available. Sensors or shields will communicate with serial or TTL.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
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+1 for the change to opaque breadboards. My eyes thank you.
Thanks! We're not always as fast as we'd like to be but we are listening and trying to make each product a little better.
How about a budget inventor's kit.
I got started with Arduino before there was much in the way of "kits" available. I pretty rapidly (within a couple of weeks) reached the point of doing projects comparable to the more advanced projects in the SIK book, but in absence of kits like this one, bought a very basic "Arduino Starter Kit" and ended up spending at least $200 on parts, and quite a bit more on S&H from Jameco, Mouser, and Digikey, and on books to get there.
I bought a classroom pack of SIKs last year and I think SparkFun has really hit the sweet spot at the intersection of cost, value, learning potential, and flexibility.
I'd say that this really IS the budget inventor's kit, in that it gives you a sufficient variety of components to allow you not only complete the learning projects in the guidebook, but also remix the components to extend your learning on your own.
I agree with Kamiquasi. The 101 experiment kits just won't take you where you need to go, and the Arduino+DangerShield route will leave you just doing basic experiments rather than creating and building real projects. While I realize that $100 bucks still seems like a lot of money, the SIK package can keep you busily learning for a LONG time with parts you will use over and over again.
Had the SIK been available in 2010 when I was starting out as a complete and total novice, I think I would have gotten much further, much faster, and I KNOW I would have spent a lot less money.
I agree. The variety and number of components included with this kit, along with the instructional materials, and, heck, even a case, for a hundred bucks do make this the budget kit. One thing to consider is all the time saved not having to source the components individually, as well as not having to pay the shipping a few components at a time. This kit is the way to go.
Could you put a number to that? And what niche would you see it filling?
I say niche because the way I see 'inventor kits' right now is:
If those more advanced level I/O elements were dropped, you're more or less back to the arduino+danger shield.
However, you may have something different in mind, and I (and SparkFun, I'd imagine) would be interested in learning what that would be :)
I have been using the abbreviations RTFI and RTFM for years with my students (Student: "Why isn't my program working?", Me: "You have an RTFM error."), so when I unpacked my SIK and took out the RedBoard and saw the "RTFM" logo on the packaging underneath I laughed for hours. Thanks SF for a nice kit (it has become my personal "proof of concept" kit) and the humorous packaging.
This is the first thing I've bought from sparkfun, after months of lurking on every product page. Needless to say I love sparkfun. The group of people who wrote the SIK Guide must be technical writing prodigies
The Minnesota CoderDojo group has been using the SparkFun Inventor's kit for about a year now. We are very happy with the SIK and the instruction booklets that they come with are top-notch. I am starting to write a blog on some the things I have learned and I would like to share experiences with others.
One of my first findings is that the kids LOVE circuit lab #12 (driving the DC motors) however over time the leads on most of the motors have broken off. I have a post on how to fix them here:
Motors for Arduino Labs.
I have also added a new lab that allows the students to change the direction of the motors. This helps them with the future robot labs.
Hey how often does this come back into stock? Just wondering how long it will be if I bought it now before I got my hands on it!
Is there any chance you can create an online version of the SIK guide, similar to what you've done with the Digital Sandbox? I find it a lot easier to have that up for students since they can zoom in and don't have to worry about the binding closing the guide accidentally.
We do have the manual as a pdf listed above, but we don't have a separate tutorial. I'll pass along your suggestion but the pdf should at least deal with the binding closing.
The "includes" section indicates that this kit comes with this shift register: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/733 (which appears to be the TI version)
...but mine came with the NXP version. (which does not appear to be available for individual order)
I'm trying to research the difference and it seems like the NXP is latched and the TI is not. Is this true? ...and if so, what impact should I expect if I use the available TI version on future projects?
I suppose I'm curious what the main difference is between latched and unlatched. #newbcakes
I'm working my way through the SIK projects now, and am quite pleased with this introduction to Arduino hardware and software. When I first scanned the SIK Guide, I was disappointed in the minimal comments regarding how the Arduino IDE coding worked, but was pleasantly surprised to discover the extensive and comprehensive comments in the code for each SIK circuit sketch.
I initially tore my hair out for over an hour trying to upload the first sketch. Every time, I got the same error, "avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding". After combing through several Arduino forum posts, I finally found the solution: “I had to press the Reset Button AFTER I pressed "Upload to I/O Board". And when I say AFTER, I mean 4 to 5 seconds after"(http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php/topic,28686.0.html).
Pressing the reset button pretty much exactly 4 seconds after clicking on 'Upload' seems to be the only way that I can upload a sketch. It works, but it sure seems to be at best, inelegant. Does anyone know a way to fix this problem? I'm running the Arduino IDE on a Mac Mini, using OSX 10.9.4
You shouldn't have to press the reset button, if you are having to do that you might have a bad board. Email email@example.com and they should be able to help you out.
Phillips screws and a flat-head screwdriver? It works, but still.
The screw driver is both phillips and flat-head, pull out one end to swap to the other.
Thanks! Don't tell anyone how much of an idiot I am.
What is the difference between an normal arduino starter kit and the kit that you guys have?
hi I have an arduino uno loaded in my computer , what happen if I load the kit inventor later is compatible thank you
Do you guys think you could include a "SparkFun Inventor's Kit for Arduino - V3.1A", with the A meaning that it uses an Arduino board instead of a redboard? I know you guys like your red boards, and its nothing personal, but I think I would honestly prefer a Arduino SMD rev3 instead of the redboard.
Either that, or a kit that just doesnt include the microcontroler board...
Unless of course the coding is the same...because then I wouldnt care, Im completely new at this. I just know that Arduino is tried and true by a family of EEs and electronic hobbyists.
The coding is the same and allows us to have a little more control on the supply of the boards, thus the decision to use the redboard. Our old versions of the Inventor's Kit actually did use the Uno and we did consciously make that swap.
Having problems with your RedBoard not being recognized by a Macbook Pro running Mavericks? Here are some tips.
Also, in my experience Sparkfun has the greatest customer service ever. So if you have a problem definitely let them know. They will help you out.
MY STORY: I was having some serious issues with my computer not recognizing the Redboard as a Serial Device. I spent a whole day troubleshooting it and no luck. Then I looked very closely at the FTDI chip and noticed half the pins were not connected
Here's a picture: https://ccrma.stanford.edu/~turner/storage/pics/RedboardIssues/FTDI-BadSoldering-1-Zoomed.jpeg
Thankfully Sparkfun has world class customer service, and after I wrote a relatively scathing review (i had spent a day troubleshooting it and was pretty annoyed) they hooked me up with a replacement. Much respect for that.
I feel it's worth noting the things I learned in my attempt to troubleshoot the issues of the board not being recognized. In case you have a similar issue here are some tips.
1) When you first plug in the RedBoard, be sure to make sure SOMETHING at least shows up in "System Information" under the "USB" section. If nothing shows up make sure to inspect the FTDI chip on the RedBoard or try a different USB cable. My issue was probably a very rare one, but best to check that first and not waste time.
2) If you see something showing up in "System Information" but the Arduino IDE isn't recognizing it and you have Mavericks, you may need to look around the internet for a few more hacks on getting it up and running
I'm sorry to hear you had such a poor experience with this board. We do a thorough visual inspection and testing procedure of our boards, so I'm not sure how this one slipped through the cracks. We do actually program all the boards and verify that the test sketch is loaded by hooking each individual red board up to dummy LED boards.
We can definitely get you set up with a replacement board so you will have a functioning Inventor's Kit. Please contact techsupport@sparkfun with your order number and include either a link to this comment or a basic summary. They will get the replacement board sent out to you.
Apologies again for this. I'll make sure our QC team is aware of this so they can double check that steps are being properly followed in the testing flow.
Hey Toni_K I've updated my comment above. Left the picture in there in case for some freak reason someone runs into this same problem. Sorry my original review was a little harsh, I was just really annoyed after spending a long time trying to figure out the problem only to find out it was the FTDI. Obviously this is not a normal situation and I thank you guys for being on top of things. I've never had anything but amazing experiences with Sparkfun and the customer service so major props to you and the whole team. Definitely got a happy customer here. The maker community is quite lucky to have such an amazing resource and a dedicated team of passionate people looking out for us. Peace and love!
Thanks so much for the update! Hopefully you don't have any more troubles as you work through your projects! Let us know if we can help out in any other way. :)
Is an Arduino included?
The SparkFun Redboard (our own version of the Uno) is included.
Hi, I recently bought one of these kits and while everything looked brand new, a few LEDs and sensors had been bent like if they had been used/mishandled. Also, I'm not sure if the temperature sensor is working or not, but when I reached Circuit #7 on the book the only readings that the sensor would send back were -50. Is there something wrong with the code in the SIK Example or did I get a faulty sensor?
Does anyone know how long it would take a semi-focused teenager to work through these circuits?
A couple of hours at most.
Do you have a kit minus the microcontroller. Thats what i need just the parts as i already have a micro.
The closest kit we have is the BWSN Kit, but you can always buy all the parts individually if you want this exact kit.
Thanks for the info Toni. I hit the wrong post.
Pin 13 keeps flashing before i started circuit 1
a new arduino dose that before it's programed with its first sketch. if you program the blink sketch then you will notice the blinking slows down.
I'd rate this kit 4.5 stars out of 5. I bought this kit as a complete noobie and is very well put together. The examples clearly explain whats is being done and why in the sketch code and the book. A great way to get into arduino and in style too! I only wish it came with a stepper motor in the kit.
While working through the examples, I have had a problem with Circuit #12, the DC motor. It's hooked up correctly, but I can't get it to run. Has anyone else had this problem? It might be that I need an external power, as someone suggested for #8, the servo motor.
I would like to see this, but a bit cheaper and without the Arduino. It would be great for RasPi (correct shortcut for Raspberry Pi?), PIC, PICAXE, Propeller, no microcontroller, BASIC Stamp etc.
Can you advise as to the difference between v3.0 and v3.1 of the SIK?
Nevermind, I just saw your answer below.
From the description:
Also see New Product Friday: Jurassic Spark, November 15, 2013
Hey Nate! Any interest in taking the S.I.K. Teacher Binder and turning it into a full set of teaching Powerpoint slides? I'd be willing to take the one I'm working on and work with you to make it official.
Hi Angelo, To clarify- Are you talking about the SIK Guide or the SIK Teacher Binder?
We would more than love to have your slides! In the spirit of Open Education we'd be honored to host them on Learn if you send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you still working on a Powerpoint slide pack for the Teacher Binder? I'm a teacher and I'm very interested!
This is by far one of the best kits on the market. I've purchased other kits in the past, and would highly recommend this one to anyone looking to get started with the Arduino platform. Buy the SIK Guide book if you already have most of the other components at the very least. The SIK Guide contains lots of great circuit examples, and informative instruction. Great job with this one SparkFun!
Hi. I just started with the kit today and I've done the first example. I am wondering why the exercise has us hook up the red wire from 5V power pin to the + strip on the breadboard, when pin 13 output supplies the power to the circuit anyway? I pulled both ends of the red wire out and LED still flashes with the rate changes that I made. It's not like anything goes from the + strip on the breadboard to the LED anyways.
Connecting both 5V and GND is just good practice for wiring up the POWER rails on the breadboard. It isn't used in the 1st circuit, but it will be used in circuit #2. We'll look at removing that in our next revision of the guide.
Thanks for that answer. I too was trying to figure out why the heck Circuit #1 had a jumper wire between 5v and the + rail.
Hi there, we picked up this kit recently and my kids have been working through the projects. Last night they were doing #8 with the servo, and it did not work. I double-checked the circuit and and seemed right according to the book, and then I took a servo out of another kit and it still did not work.
Are there any known problems with #8 either the circuit or the code for it? We were just loading the code right out of the example code we downloaded.
OK I figured it out - when powered by the USB cable there is not enough power for the servo. I needed to hook up external power.
I thought I had a similar problem. Everything was fine until #8, then the servo buzzed but didn't move. But unlike you, providing external power didn't make things work.
So I stopped by the local Micro Center, this morning, and picked up a TinkerKit microservo. That servo worked fine.
Either Sparkfun shipped a defective servo or I somehow managed to damage it after opening the package, though I don't see how I could have managed that.
Sorry to hear you had a problem with that! If you contact techsupport@sparkfun, they should be able to assist you with the bum servo.
Here's a tutorial on creating custom characters with Arduino on instructables => http://www.instructables.com/id/Controlling-a-character-LCD-with-an-Arduino/?ALLSTEPS.
Kudos for the white breadboard! I just signed 40 students up for my class, and look forward to buying them the v3.1 kits. Older eyes thank you!
What would be better for an absolute beginner, this or the Arduino Starter Kit? (http://store.arduino.cc/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=185) What are the differences?
Sparkfun Inventor's Kit is the best for beginners :) Then graduate to the Arduino Starter Kit, which comes with more intermediate projects. The only way to get the Arduino book is to buy the kit.
To be honest, I haven't heard of any comments regarding the Arduino Starter Kit instruction book (good or bad). I'd recommend checking out our kit guide above in the links and see how you like it writing wise to get an idea whether it would work for you. I'm not sure if there's an online version available for the Arduino booklet that you can check out, but there may be some reviews on Amazon or something that may be beneficial. The kits are basically the same, minus a few small differences. They have a few more color LEDs, while ours has a relay, breadboard, and a softpot sensor.
You cannot download the Arduino Starter Kit instruction book, but when you download the Arduino IDE, you get all of the sketches for that kit ("10.StarterKit"). The comments include a parts list, but no directions on how to wire them together.
hi there. I just got the 3.0 kit. Is there a big difference between 3.0 and 3.1? So far I'm loving it! Really well written for newbs like me :-) thanks!
There were very minor changes on this. Version 3.1 has an opaque breadboard instead of the red one, and also includes a mini screw driver. Otherwise, the material included in the kit is the same.
As a total beginner here, which of your other products would be complementary to this one? Is there anything else I would need other than this kit to do something?
I'd recommend starting with this kit first. Once you've worked your way through it, you'll have a better understanding of what you can do, which then will allow you to pursue things that specifically interest you (and thus purchase the parts to do so).
I'd agree with Toni. It's a great beginner's item, and you should wrap your head around what's covered in the kit, and then move on to other things. Plus, at 4pm - 4:59pm (mountain time), the SIK will be 40% off! Today only of course.
I am hoping to get the 40% sale. I'm on stand-by....great deal!
If anyone's interested, the old 3.0 kit plus the new breadboard and screwdriver is only $95.85.