Creation Crate Review – May 2017

Creation Crate – Mood Lamp
RRP £23

After receiving much muchly anticipated creation crate I was pleased to be greeted with a well packaged, self-marketed box. Nothing too extravagant, which is always good to avoid unwanted attention in the post, so it did the job!
Upon opening I was met with an array of pocketed components and booklets all neatly bubbled wrapped up. Given the fragile nature of
many of these pieces (which I found out first hand later) it’s more than suitable to keep it protected in transit. Bubble wrap discarded there was a lot more tucked away that id originally thought possible given the size of the bundle.
All the cables were neatly packed with ties, components ideally packed in small bags. Also to my surprise with a full static bag with circuit board, as well as a larger breadboard on which my mood lamp would be built.
Getting started
After laying everything out to see what everything out to get an idea what we were playing with I proceeded to have a look through the instructions booklet.
The booklet itemised everything I should have in the box with a little picture of what it was, as well as an introduction explaining the main steps to make the lamp, which was broken into ‘Building the Hardware’ & ‘Programming it’. So far so good.
Following though the ‘Lego’ type step-by-step instructions Cables and resisters and light were slowly added following the illustrations. What I thought was really helpful was that there is also a link and password to an engaged copy of all of the illustrations in case you’re having difficulties. 15 minutes in and after some slight moving about from the instructed design due to the illustrations not exactly matching the main breadboard, the built was done!
Next up was to program it to actually do something. The booklet gave clear details where to go to install some free software to program the device. I got this installed on my laptop, plugged the circuit board in using the provided USB cable and prepared to start programming. This was actually fairly fun, given step by step details on what code to type, and then a brief comment about what this did. It took me a few read overs of each step for its action to sink in, which for younger people may be a bit of a struggle, but does give a great example of not just programming boards, but key items that can be found in many coding interfaces today.
Code completed I was ready to upload this onto my mood lamp…fail…hmmm. Thankfully the guys at Creation Crate anticipated this and had a sneaky little FAQ for issues in the code as well common issues with the built itself. As my issue was with the code Id eventually found my
issue (being a single bracket missing) and finally my upload succeeded! For those who get really stuck, a link it also provided to get a complete copy of the code.
Now I was uploaded, I took the lamp to a darker room of the house for the light sensor to do its job and turn on the lights…but nothing. After about an hour of tinkering with the components to make sure everything was connected a quick Google on issues experienced found me at many people explaining that the Breadboards connectors can sometimes be a little loose fitting, and its best to try different areas to connect them to. With this newfound information I proceeded
to check all the connections, of which I was not happy with. Back to the dark room…nothing.
Given I was very confident there wasn’t anything wrong with the connections, I processed to contact the team at Creation Crate via their email, which I plucked from their website.
Angela to the rescue!
It took a few days to get a response from the team after outlaying my issues. A lady by the name of Angela responded apologising for the issues I’d experienced, but it seemed I wasn’t the first person with this issue. From her reply there had been issues with the wrong breadboard being sent with some of the crates, on which the whole lamp is based, and that there is an additional step needed to complete it.
Now if this would have been something that was posted on their site to address their customers that was easily found then I could understand, but to have to directly contact Creation Crate based on a known mistake in incorrect items sent, I found a little disappointing. Its minor, but I feel it’s something that could have been proactively gone about to resolve those customers who were, and likely still are impacted.
Gripe over, the additional step provided was to just add a few more leads to run some power around. Fingers crossed, after connecting power the little LED’s sprung into life and began to slowly cycle around in a ‘mood lamp’ fashion. Thanks Angela!
Apart from the issues around incorrect components being sent, all in all I was pleasantly pleased with the crate. It was simple, intuitive, educational and give some very early teasers into several types of industry of which I feel my young children, given some guidance, could easily complete themselves.
The end product although working and functional, isn’t the prettiest thing to look at if you kept it built, so maybe those more technical that myself could do something to ‘jazz’ it up somewhat.
The crate also provides a sneak peek for the next month’s crate, which seems to be mostly the same components, which id worry you would stack up on the same Items each month opposed to using the items you have attained in the previous months. It would be great to reutilise what you have and add to your components to make bigger, more complex things in the future and really add to the value.

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