Jul 122015
 

Vex Starter Kit Components in the BoxThis post is a throwback to March, 2006 when I purchased the original Vex Robotics Design System v0.5. I had originally posted these pictures and their respective comments on Flickr.

I had forgotten all about them when I happened to stumble upon them today. Although I think I was more surprised to find that Flickr was still a thing. Either way, I think they belong here. I’m still using this kit so maybe soon I’ll post some of the things I have done with it.

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Jun 252015
 
littleBits BitSnaps Package - Front

BitSnaps Package – Front

The RadioShack here in town, *my* RadioShack, is finally closing its doors forever after more than ten weeks of clearance sales the likes of which I won’t likely ever see again. I scored a lot of cool gadgets at ridiculously low prices, but my favorite continues to be the littleBits modular electronics system. As I’ve previously written about, my introduction to littleBits was via the cloudBit Starter Kit and the Arduino Coding Kit. Since then I have been grabbing a handful of the individually packaged elements on my weekly trip to the Shack. Now that my harvest has come to its inevitable end, I’m posting my take. A few of these were included in the kits I had bought as well, but I know I don’t have to remind a fellow tinkerer that too many of anything is never enough. Now for the pictures …

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May 092015
 
littleBits Arduino Coding Kit

littleBits Arduino Coding Kit

So I honestly haven’t even had the chance to build a littleBits circuit more complicated than a battery, single dimmer and LED yet, but as soon as I unboxed the cloudBit Starter Kit, I knew I wanted more.

As an Arduino addict, grabbing the Arduino Coding Kit at a 60% discount seemed like a no-brainer. So just a few hours after returning home with my first littleBits kit, I was headed back out the door to grab a second.

I panicked on the short car trip to the store that they may have already sold the last one from the shelf. I’ve gotten burnt that way already as I try to balance my needs/desires against the current discount level during RadioShack’s clearance.

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May 082015
 
littleBits cloudBit Starter Kit

littleBits cloudBit Starter Kit

Ever since my local RadioShack started carrying littleBits, the modular electronics system for students, makers and hackers, I’ve spent more and more time in front of their display in the store, going back and forth about whether to purchase any. I never did pull the trigger. Until now.

Honestly, the price for both the kits and the individual components was (and still is) a bit off-putting. Maybe just as importantly, littleBits seemed like a step backward for me. I’m not an electrical engineer by any stretch of the imagination, but color-coded, snap-together components must just be be for kids, right?

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Apr 212015
 

RadioShack Clearance ItemsAfter RadioShack filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the store in town and the few others nearby were among the lucky 1,740 of 4,000 nationwide chosen to live on, albeit as Sprint-RadioShack hybrid stores.

Say what you will about RadioShack’s business missteps over the last few decades, but I was happy for these stores. RadioShack’s employees often find themselves the butt of jokes and scorn regarding corporate decisions out of their control, but to a person, every employee that I’ve dealt with has been helpful, knowledgable, and sincere. I was glad that they would be keeping their jobs. Continue reading »

Mar 222006
 

Lego Mindstorns NXT Robot

Gizmodo.com is reporting that retailers will begin taking pre-orders for the forthcoming Lego Mindstorms NXT robot development kit starting April 1st. The system, priced at $249, will not ship until late summer and will be available at Amazon, Target, Fry’s and Wal-Mart. This follows the news from earlier this month that Lego had chosen 100 volunteers from a field of over 9500 applicants to take part in the NXT beta program.

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Mar 192006
 
iRobot Packbot Scout

iRobot Packbot Scout

For the premier issue of Robot magazine the guys from the popular Discovery Channel show Mythbusters documented their attempt to recreate an iRobot PackBot using stock components of the Vex Robotics Design System. Even though no one had any previous experience with the Radio Shack robotics kit, co-hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage together with build team member Grant Imahara were able to build a rough, but functional, PackBot prototype in less than two days.

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