Projects vs Kits

I finished off a project over the weekend for a magazine and also had a message from a budding builder who wanted to create their own version of the EL wire sign created for HackSpace. This got me thinking about the value of a project over a kit.

Kit: A set of articles or equipment needed for a specific purpose.

Project: An individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim.

Kits typically come with detailed step by step instructions and there’s an expectation that if you follow the instructions to the letter then you’ll end up with something looking exactly like that on the box.

Projects are that high level direction of where you need to go and perhaps what skills and techniques you should use. But without the detail found in the kit approach.

Inspiration

My main objective with any of the magazine articles is to inspire people to experiment and try their own projects. For this reason, I’ll often go out my way to use a technique or material I’ve not used before. If I’m expecting others to try something new it helps if I’ve done the same. For similar reasons, my projects are often right on the edge of my capabilities to give something that’s impressive to see.

Learning

Because I’m learning on the project it means I make a few mistakes along the way. This doesn’t help at all with meeting my deadlines but it does mean that I can add advice and recommendations into the articles. This can also come from an experience that was not quite so fresh.

As well as learning CAD and 3D printing as mentioned in the last article I’ve also been learning PCB design and have produced my second ever outsourced PCB, a simple breakout board. Just looking at it now, I can see at least 2 improvements that could be made. Let me know in the comments if you can spot them.

Because I am learning on a project, that helps me appreciate the principles and concepts that are important. Also, the project approach means that if someone reading the article has deep knowledge in one area but not another then they can feel free to cross-reference other sources for a more detailed explanation.

Adaptability

As mentioned above a kit is designed to give exactly the same results each time. I know in the railway and modelling world there’s a whole area of “kit bashing” where you take a kit and produce something different from it. That seems to be a bit less common in electronics.

A project, on the other hand, is not as clearly defined. The ideas and techniques can be broken apart and re-used in different ways. For example, I’ve already had thoughts about extending the above breakout board to incorporate some kind of power regulator and/or battery charger.

Project vs Kit?

So what do you think? Is a project approach a more valuable learning exercise than building a kit?

Designing for 3D Printing

Mesh Mixer Inspector showing a problem

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been designing a complex animal model for a magazine article and thought I’d share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Organic Shapes I tried to design the main body of my

Continue reading Comments Add Comment

The Pros And Cons Of Buying A House That Needs Work

The Pros And Cons Of Buying A House That Needs Work

The trend for actually staying put and renovating is on the up according to statistics. A little look at Kirsty and Phil’s Love It Or List It on Channel 4 and you’ll see that plenty of people choose not to

Continue reading Comments Add Comment

Kitchen Maintenance: 4 Things to Check for Repairs

Kitchen Maintenance: 4 Things to Check for Repairs

There’s plenty of maintenance to do around the house, but one room that benefits from a special focus is the kitchen, and accompanying dining areas.  This because they get so much use over time, when compared to the rest of

Continue reading Comments Add Comment

But what if I fail?

Fail Book

So now you’ve done your thing and did not have success. What next? Here’s some thoughts with dealing with failure.

Continue reading Comments 2 Comments

6 Uses for an Angle Grinder & Why Every Handyman Needs One

Angle grinder in action

Angle grinders are a versatile tool used by almost every tradesman, and the handyman is no exception. While they can do serious work on some of the toughest known materials to man and always require healthy respect, they aren’t as

Continue reading Comments Add Comment

Turning reclaimed materials into Furniture

Turning reclaimed materials into Furniture

Workshopshed:  Leona Marsh is someone who gets things done. She’s used her business experience and passion for the creative to found Marsh Mill Interiors. Here she designs and makes furniture for homes and businesses. Workshopshed:  Leona, thanks for taking the

Continue reading Comments Add Comment

Drum and base

Stepper motor and drum

To do some testing on a Stepper Motor evaluation kit from Trinamic, I’ve been building a test rig. The idea is that the motor will drive a slider and I’ll check the position of that to determine the repeatability of

Continue reading Comments Add Comment


Next Page »