Experiment Guide for the SparkFun Tinker Kit

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This tutorial covers concepts or technologies that are no longer current. It's still here for you to read and enjoy, but may not be as useful as our newest tutorials.

View the updated tutorial: Activity Guide for SparkFun Tinker Kit

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Introduction to the SparkFun Tinker Kit

This SparkFun Tinker Kit Experiment Guide is your map for navigating the waters of beginning embedded electronics, robotics and citizen science using the SparkFun RedBoard while sticking to a strict budget. This guide contains all the information you will need to explore the 11 circuits of the SparkFun Tinker Kit. At the center of this guide is one core philosophy – that anyone can (and should) play around with cutting-edge electronics in a fun and playful way while not breaking the bank.

When you’re done with this guide, you’ll have the know-how to start creating your own projects and experiments. From building robots and game controllers to data logging, the world will be your oyster. Now enough talking – let’s start tinkering!

Included Materials

SparkFun Tinker Kit

KIT-13930
17 Retired

Here are all of the parts in the SparkFun Tinker Kit:

  • SparkFun RedBoard – Our tried and true version of the Arduino UNO.
  • Breadboard – Excellent for making circuits and connections off the Arduino.
  • SparkFun Mini Screwdriver – To help you screw your RedBoard onto the holder.
  • Hobby Gearmotor Set – A set of hobby level motors with gearboxes set to 120 RPM.
  • Small Servo – Here is a simple, low-cost, high-quality servo for all your mechatronic needs.
  • TMP36 Temp Sensor – A sensor for detecting temperature changes.
  • USB A to B Cable – This 6-foot cable provides you with a USB-A connector at the host end and standard B connector at the device end.
  • Male-to-Male Jumper Wires – These are high-quality wires that allow you to connect the female headers on the Arduino to the components and breadboard.
  • Photocell – A sensor to detect ambient light. Perfect for detecting when a drawer is opened or when nighttime approaches.
  • Tri-Color LED – Because everyone loves a blinky.
  • Red, Blue, Yellow and Green LEDs – Light-Emitting Diodes make great general indicators.
  • Red, Blue, Yellow and Green Tactile Buttons – Go crazy with different colored buttons.
  • 10K Trimpot – Also known as a variable resistor, this is a device commonly used to control volume and contrast, and makes a great general user control input.
  • 330 Ohm Resistors – Great current-limiting resistors for LEDs, and strong pull-up resistors.
  • 10K Ohm Resistors – These make excellent pull-ups, pull-downs and current limiters.
  • SN754410 H-Bridge IC – This nifty little Integrated Circuit (IC) is perfect for controlling the speed and direction of up to two separate motors.
  • 4xAA Battery Holder – Used to power the RedBoard without being connected to your computer. Sorry! Batteries not included.

Experiment List

The following is a list of the experiments you will complete using this Tinker Kit Experiment Guide. Alternatively, you can navigate around using the buttons on the right.

Suggested Reading

Before continuing with this guide, we recommend you be somewhat familiar with the concepts in the following tutorials:

  • Voltage, Current, Resistance, and Ohm’s Law - The most basic concepts in electronics and electrical engineering. Get very familiar with these concepts as they will be used throughout your electronics adventure.
  • What is a Circuit? - In this guide, we will be building a variety of circuits. Understanding what that means is vital to understanding the Inventor’s Kit.
  • How to Use a Breadboard – First time working with a breadboard? Please check out this tutorial! It will help you understand why the breadboard is great for prototyping and how to use one.

Open Source!

At SparkFun, our engineers and educators have been improving this kit and coming up with new experiments for a long time. We would like to give attribution to Oomlout, since we originally started working off the Arduino Kit material many years ago. Both the Oomlout and SparkFun versions are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 Unported License.

To view a copy of this license visit this link, or write: Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA.