We’ve created a series of monthly-delivered kits that help you understand the fundamentals of electronics and how hardware and software come together so you can innovate and invent from the comfort of your own home. Thimble is a unique direct-to-your-door monthly delivery subscription that contains a project with electronic components to teach kids and adults how to build a fun and useful device.
Our very first kit we’re launching through this Kickstarter is a wifi-enabled robot that you control with your phone, tablet, or laptop. The robot arrives with everything you need to build the project and a learning app you log into to follow instructions. The learning app provides step-by-step tutorials to help you throughout the construction process and provides a community of other makers to share knowledge and best practices.
By making the wifi-robot, you will:
- create an Android/iOS app that makes things move
- understand how electricity, motors, and microcontrollers work
- prototype your own ideas to improve the robot
- have fun showing off your creation.
Who is Thimble for?
Thimble kits are for curious minds – kids and adults (ages 13 and up) – interested in building electronics on a monthly basis that want a guided path to learn through step-by-step instructions on our learning app.
Kids and adults want to be creative and develop the right technical skills to build something fun and useful. But they’re hesitant to jump in because:
- they don’t have the right project ideas
- finding components on or offline is time consuming
- they don’t have the knowledge to assemble their project
That whole experience is a massive barrier and we’re going to fix it. By offering month-to-month kits, we are bringing the makerspace to your home; it doesn’t matter who you are or how old you are, people want to understand how individual electronic parts work together to make something function. As you progress from project to project, you will learn the art of soldering, programming languages, micro-controllers, and theory. Our hope is that you will learn enough to build, operate, and manipulate your own projects in the near future.
The wifi-robot is built around the Arduino microcontroller platform which may or may not be included in the kit depending on the reward level you select. The wifi-bot shield plugs into the Arduino and contains the motor controller and wifi module. You program the firmware (low level software) on the Arduino to talk to the wifi module in order to connect to your wireless network and receive commands from the internet to control the motors and make the robot move. The Thimble app that you program (for Android or iOS) then talks to the wifi module via the internet (UDP packets, specifically) to discover the robot on the network and send it commands to move forward, backward, left and right. We also show you how to add buttons to the app to read from sensors that you can add to the robot.
Soldering is involved:
Assembling components involves some soldering and can be accomplished by following instructions on our learning app in case you’re unfamiliar. Additional tools will be required to assemble the project and future kits; they can be purchased on our website after the campaign and will be shipped with your reward (if you don’t already own them). The tools you’ll need are a soldering iron, soldering stand, solder, wire, wire cutters, diagonal cutters, a glue gun, and a screwdriver.
What parts will I receive in my first kit?
Learn how to assemble the robot and code by following tutorials on our learning app. Once the robot has been constructed, kids and adults with no previous exposure to electronics or programming will easily figure out how to code the wifi-robot to move forwards, backwards, left, and right. If you’re already a pro in some or all of these areas, you can skip over to see only the parts you’re interested in. We will also guide you through writing an app for the robot which will work for iOS and Android devices.
Once you’ve completed coding the robot, you can enjoy driving it around. If you’re someone who likes to push the envelope, we encourage you to get creative – modify it and add components to the robot to make it do all sorts of things. This is truly where Thimble kits come alive! For example, add a sensor to make the robot avoid obstacles, or chase your dog around the house, or blink an LED when the lights are turned off! To get you started, we will show an example of how to read sensor data back to the app you develop.
Our goal is pretty simple: To help you learn and build electronics in a more structured way. (without feeling overwhelmed!)
Other projects you could receive in later months include quadcopters, alarm clocks, LED cubes, light control devices for your home, weather monitoring, and more. If monthly is too frequent, or you just want to try the first kit out, we can ship kits when you’d like them.
Over this past summer, we did a one-month pilot program with the Boys and Girls Club of Buffalo to promote their STEAM curriculum. We had 12 students participate. Before the program, none of the students had experience with electronics, soldering, or software engineering and after it, 9 of the students wanted to become engineers and further pursue careers in software and hardware. To support that effort, we are partnering with the Boys and Girls club for a “Give a Kid a Kit” pay it forward initiative: if you would like, you can give a kit to a kid at the Buffalo Boys and Girls Club. We can also send it to a school or afterschool program in your local area. After the campaign is over, we will send out a survey asking where you would like the rewards that you selected to go.
How it all began…
In December 2014, Dave and Oscar met on Hacker News and quickly realized they shared the same passion for the maker movement. They met up in person and shared their goal to find ways to better engage kids and adults in electronics. Thimble was finally ignited by idea of month-to-month kits accompanied by a learning app that would provide seamless progression into hardware without feeling intimidated or demoralized.
Together, they’ve been bootstrapping this idea for almost a year. It has taken them eight months to get everything ready for production; there was also the challenge of figuring out what parts should be included in the kit and what the educational content on the learning app should look like. All throughout, they’ve spent their time learning about manufacturing electronics, meeting with manufacturers and suppliers, building relationships with partners, and designing future kits. They’ve tested Thimble kits with Maker Spaces as well as organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club to make sure they’re making something kids and adults will have fun learning and building.
Also, the team was recently accepted into New York’s Next Top Makers Fellowship. It is a community-sourced incubator dedicated to connecting ideas like Thimble with local development in NYC.
A big thank you to our friends and family whose support has helped make this campaign possible. A special shout-out to Ander Kazmerski and Alex Weiser, our videographers. Nick Barone and Jonathan Gorczyga from Helm, our graphic designers. Douglas Borzynski and the Buffalo Museum of Science. Vic Nole and the Innovation Center in Buffalo, NY. Flying Bison Brewing Company, Julie Almond at Starbucks and David Almond at the Corner Bakery.
Whether you’re a student, a programmer, an engineer, a parent, or you’ve tinkered with things at some point in your life – we sincerely hope that we can inspire you to join us on our journey of opening the world of electronics to all generations. We’re starting our journey with Kickstarter because we believe the backer community will play an integral role in Thimble’s development. By launching this campaign, we’re not just generating pre-sales, but also forging relationships with a passionate community of makers. Your feedback will help us and your support will enable us to reach our goals. If you’re ready for an awesome experience of making, please support our campaign and spread the word!
If you don’t want to receive a kit every month, that’s okay. You can purchase our Kickstarter kit first (wifi-robot) and always have the option to upgrade to our monthly service at a later time on our website.
Please note that shipping to any country outside North America and Canada may be delayed or cancelled depending on the feasibility of local product approval requirements or local import regulations. In a case of cancellation, we will refund your pledge. There may be additional duties, fees, or taxes raised by authorities in your country. You may need to take care of them yourself when receiving the shipment. We’re working hard to make this as inexpensive and painless as possible.