I love the concept of monthly box deliveries! I think part of it is the delight that comes in being surprised at the goodies inside the box.
I know friends who do monthly snack boxes, make-up/beauty boxes, I even tried getting boxes for the cats (through Meowbox) for awhile. Admittedly, when you start adding box after box, prices add up so you need to get selective about the boxes you go with. I long to subscribe to the Cat Lady Box but with the US/CAD exchange rate, I just can’t justify it (right meow…)
There’s a new monthly box that’s locally-made called the Creation Crate and it’s all about giving you a monthly tech project that teaches you how to build electronics (hardware/software!)
I recently got a box to try and also give away!
Read on for a review of my Creation Crate, and enter to win your own below!
The Creation Crate says they are “building the makers of tomorrow!”
From their website:
We started Creation Crate to give people a more practical way to learn – in a subject that’s not getting nearly enough attention in traditional schooling. When most people think about careers in technology, the first thing that comes to mind is programming. Not many people think about the hardware side of tech.
For most, its actually intimidating – sensors? robotics?
You’d have to be a genius to make that stuff work!
With Creation Crate, anyone can learn the basics of building electronics. We want people to see that it’s not as complex as they think it is. Once you get started, it’s like learning any skill – it takes time, but its doable!
For my first Creation Crate, I got all the parts and instructions required to build and program a “Mood Lamp.”
I will be the first to tell you that hardware, engineering, electronics, wires and other tactical thingymabobs are not where my skills lie.
The nice thing about Creation Crate is it’s beginner-friendly (thank goodness, though with each subsequent box delivery, the projects are suppose to get more difficult).
I love learning new skills and trying new things, and I find so often when you’re ‘in the real world,’ a lot of what you do day to day can get repetitive and too comfortable.
This was very apparent to me as I unpacked the items in my Creation Crate and started building my Mood Lamp. I couldn’t tell you the last time I’d worked with wires or a circuit board, or anything like that.
I must have stared at one wire piece for a solid 10 minutes trying to figure out how it was suppose to be inserted, before Mike got home and showed me that I could bend the wire. I know that sounds ridiculous but my brain did not think ‘bend it’ during all that staring.
I repeat, this is not where my skills lie and I was totally out of my comfort zone (which was great though!)
Building the Creation Crate Mood Lamp became something of a husband and wife project!
I got the hardware part started, Mike helped (with more ‘bending’ lol) and then I took over with the software part (which is definitely more in my wheelhouse, but still not something I was familiar with).
Creation Crate projects come with an UNO R3, which is an Arduino-compatible, pocket-sized computer (it’s that circuit board looking thing on the left side of the above photo), plus the other parts you need to connect/assemble.
To program the UNO R3, you need to download free Arduino coding software,
The instruction booklet the Creation Crate comes with gives you the code you need to input in order to get your project working. You look at it, and it seems very straight-forward (just type what’s in the booklet).
But my initial code was rife with typos and incorrectly placed brackets:
— Linda Hoang (@lindork) February 3, 2016
More staring. Ha!
I tried to fix up brackets here and there, and went through and was surprised at how many typos I’d done.
Still it wouldn’t work. I decided to break for the night.
The next night I tried again, this time erasing all the code and re-writing it from scratch.
Still more errors, but it was closer this time.
It turns out my second go at the code was right, but because I was using a Mac, there was a driver missing that was causing the code to upload incorrectly.
The folks over at Creation Crate are very helpful though, and as I tweeted my sort-of-frustrations/questions, they were quick to send me some information, review my code (it was good!) and send me over the driver I needed for my Mac.
(That was a recent issue they’d discovered, and now all boxes will include information about the additional driver required if programming from a Mac!)
On my third night fiddling with the Creation Crate coding, my Mood Lamp started working!!
The code uploaded, the hardware was properly connected (if it wasn’t, the instruction booklet offers a few hardware troubleshooting solutions that would’ve helped), and the three LED lights we’d connected under the paper lantern were taking turns lighting up.
I was so thrilled!
A cool part about the Creation Crate instruction booklet is it also gives you a few coding exercises/challenges after you’ve completed the project, to help you really understand the concepts of the code you wrote.
I thought this was a really great touch because otherwise, literally, you would just be typing character for character the code that’s written in the booklet, and not truly understanding why you were writing what (although even in that process, it does try to explain what commands are doing what).
The more you look and tweak the code too, you start getting it as well (I have a pretty good concept of “if else” now, I think!)
I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to build this Mood Lamp from the parts up (even with Mike’s help here and there).
Some of my Twitter friends were also very encouraging and supportive when I was tweeting some coding frustrations but I thought that aspect of it was also really nice – I’m sort of learning to code and I’ve got support from other (actual) coders through social.
I did think some parts of the hardware set-up could have been better explained or visualized (for example, there are some diagrams shown in the booklet that are meant to help you understand where to put which wires, but it was really hard for me to visualize. Even stating ‘you should be bending these’ might’ve made it more clear too – or… is that really obvious and I should’ve known that already? lol)
But I loved my first Creation Crate, and felt so proud of my completed project.
I was also really happy I didn’t give up (because I tell you, I was close to giving up a few times, lol). For the sake of this review as well, I’m thrilled I stuck with it, haha.
The Creation Crate is great for kids, teens, and adults with an interest in electronics/building and I love that it’s a made-in-Edmonton box (that delivers worldwide). It’s an awesome way to learn a new skill and challenge your mind in a way it might not be used to (it certainly took me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to think about things a different way).
Mostly I’m pretty stoked because I feel like if I ended up in a cave situation like Tony Stark in Iron Man, I’d have a bit more knowledge/skills to build myself something to get out, lol. Maybe.
Monthly cost for the Creation Crate is discounted the longer you sign up with them for. Their most popular package – 3 months / 3 projects – is $26.99 USD/per month (+ free shipping). If you register for a year, it’s $22.49 USD/per month.
I think this is pretty reasonably priced (and much cheaper than the Cat Lady Box that I yearn for, lol), though with the Canadian dollar the way it is right now the exchange rate is not the best.
If you’d like to try your hand at a Creation Crate, get 10% off your first box by using promo code LINDA1.
Or enter below for a chance to win a free Creation Crate!
** GIVEAWAY **
ENTER TO WIN A FREE CREATION CRATE!
(valued at $41 CAD)
Here are the different ways you can enter this contest:
- Like the Creation Crate’s Facebook Page (1 entry)
- Like my Facebook Page (Lindork – Linda Hoang) (1 entry)
- Share my Creation Crate Facebook post (3 entries)
- Tweet this message: The @CreationCrate seems awesome! Tech Education in-a-box. Hope I win one through @lindork’s giveaway! http://bit.ly/1K5DsIJ #yeg (3 entries)
- Sign up to Creation Crate’s email list below (2 entries)
- Make sure you leave a comment on this blog post letting me know which entries you completed!
I’ll randomly select a winner after the contest closes on February 19 2016.
* Note: Comments are moderated so if they don’t appear right away, don’t worry!
Learn more about Creation Crate on their website!
Thanks to the Creation Crate for this giveaway opportunity.
Disclaimer: I will always provide my 100% honest opinion on this blog. Creation Crate asked me to review their product, and provided me a box to giveaway to readers. This has no impact on opinions stated in this post.