Friday, 22 March 2019

In this project we've added some realistic lighting to an Arckit construciton model. We've previously added some fun, educational lighting using the Circuit Playground and BBC micro:bit beginner electronics boards. This time we wanted to use electronics components that would look realistic.

We've been using the Microsoft 3D Builder Windows app on with our XYZPrinting da Vinci Mini 3D printer and we're getting really good results so we thought we'd share.

XYZPrinting da Vinci Mini

We reviewed the XYZPrinting da Vinci Mini Maker 3D printer last year but that was a demo machine that had to be returned. We loved the printer and although we have access to plenty of 3D printers we thought it would be useful to have a simple one that we could use when working with children and making projects that families can recreate at home. The only thing we weren't so keen on about the Mini printer was it's bright primary colours (our young kids thought it looked too young) so we went for the next model up, the da Vinci Mini which is orange and has wifi support.

XYZPrinting have their own XYZMaker software for printing to the printer. Mostly this works well be we have found that it didn't correctly repair some models that we downloaded from Thingiverse.

When we started creating models using BlocksCAD (like our Arckit floors) we found this became more of a problem. There's lots of software that can fix repair (or attempt to repair) 3D models but I wanted to make the process as simple as possible.

Microsoft 3D Builder is installed on Windows 10 machines so I thought I'd try that. We got great results! Loading models into 3D Builder and then exporting them created models that printed correctly.

Even better, you can 3D print direct to the da Vinci Mini from 3D Builder without needing to load up the XYZWare software. This simplifies the workload a lot.

Once we started using 3D Builder for this purpose we started using it for other things. Both my 8 year old and my 10 year old have got on really well with it. It's somewhat limited, but it's simple. This is just what you need when getting started rather than being overwhelmed by lots of fancy features.

3D Builder has been added our 3D printing for families and kids toolkit.

We should also mention that Microsoft Paint 3D is currently in preview and allows you to sketch 3D models for a more freehand approach.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Today marks 30 years of the existence of the World Wide Web. I can just about remember a world without the internet, but my children can't. The internet connects information and people around the world and has completely transformed how we live, work and play.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The Hack Laptop is a new laptop aimed at kids aged 8+ that aims to encourage them to code and customise their computer.

It's a proper ASUS laptop running the Linux operating system with additional educational content running on top. At launch, you get free access to the educational content but it will cost $9.99 per month after an initial trial.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Kickstarter is a great platform for startups and newcomers to drum up interest in a new idea or product. Sometimes well-known companies, like Sphero, also use it, to tell people about new innovative products like the Sphero RVR.

Sphero RVR is the company's latest project just launched a few days ago and it's already smashed it's funding targets. The new robot is buildable, programmable and flexible for creative exploration.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

We came across Robolink three years ago when they brought Codrone to life, through a Kickstarter campaign. As a company they are on a mission to help people (and children & teens) understand how modern technology works and make it and code it! Their Codrone project is a great success and used in many schools to teach coding, engineering and drone flying skills. All very useful for a digital future.

Well, in 2019, Robolink has done it again, with a new Kickstarter campaign Zumi! It's an automated car which helps you learn about AI (artificial intelligence) and vehicle automation, just the type of skills our kids will need and use in their future.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

It seemed appropriate to publish the second edition of our book, micro:bit in Wonderland, on Valentine's Day. After all the book and story is peppered with hearts, admittedly not all are lovely hearts, as you will find out with the Queen of Hearts!