Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Latest Kitronik Educational Project Kit Brings Bluetooth Technology to the Classroom, Teaches Students to Make Their Own Speakers

ST Medical Devices

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kitronik-logoCool UK company Kitronik, which provides electronics project kits and educational resources to classrooms and hobbyists alike, knows that if you want to get the younger generations involved in today’s innovative technology fields, you need fun DIY projects that are also educational. From teaching kids how to 3D print their own custom USB memory stick covers and make 3D printed lamps, and even partnering with Robox to provide 3D printer packages to thousands of schools in the UK, it’s clear that with Kitronik, both education and fun come first. The company’s latest offering is no different: today, it launched a new product that will pump up the volume on the use of Bluetooth technology within the UK’s secondary school Design and Technology (D&T) lessons.

kitronik-bluetooth-stereo-amplifier-kitKitronik has created a Bluetooth Stereo Amplifier Kit, which will enable students to create their own speakers, so they can play music from their own devices. Imagine that: kids being encouraged to not only play music on their smartphones and tablets during school, but actually being taught how to make the speakers themselves! Back in my day (and I’m not even that old!), the only music allowed in my class was an Enya CD, which my algebra teacher would play, on repeat, during tests, to help calm our nerves…or something. But allowing the students to bring out and interact with their devices during class can help increase their interest in electronics and D&T lessons.

The owners of the company believe that electronics should be accessible to everyone, and they supply directly to 3,000 secondary schools. The newest educational DIY kit, which also comes with several accompanying resources like speaker wire, is a great jumping-off point for students interested in learning about modern product design. Teachers will be able to deliver extremely current and cutting-edge lessons that encourage students to use their own devices in the classroom, and “create a bespoke final product.”

“Through our involvement in the BBC micro:bit project we understand that pupils become more interested in D&T, electronics and coding when they create a finished product which they can use every day and which enables them to use their existing tech, such as their phone, tablet, or laptop,” said Kitronik Director Kevin Spurr. “We created the Bluetooth Stereo Amplifier Kit so students have the opportunity to improve their essential skills, such as soldering and product design, and also have a physical product for their personal daily use.”

kitronik-amplifier-kit-speakers

3D printed speaker enclosure by Kitronik

When students combine the kit with other innovative techniques, like 3D printing, they can really show off their individuality and creativity by creating unique speaker designs. The kit comes with a 3W Class-D amplifier, which is light weight, does not require a heat sink, and also gives really stellar audio performance, which students can obviously appreciate. The easy user interface is an on/off switch, and when it’s turned on, the Bluetooth module will automatically try to reconnect to the last device it was paired with. If this isn’t possible, it will then enter pairing mode. The kit is available in three different formats, with or without speakers. There are two speaker options, both of which are included unconnected, so that cable routing and lengths can be personalized to specific designs.

kitronik-amplifier-kit-optionsThe kit comes with an automatic, portable LiPo battery charging circuit, with charging available for battery capacities between 400 mAh to 1000 mAh; as an example, a 1000 mAH battery can “produce up to 28 hours of continuous operation at ‘normal’ volume.” You can also power the device with a 1A USB supply. Teachers should note that some soldering is required, because the speakers and power switch are both supplied unconnected; students will also need wire cutters and wire strippers. Every Kitronik kit includes a resource pack for teachers, so they can build the kit themselves, and also find out how it all works. The resource tab of the Kitronik website, Kitronik University, has tutorials, project ideas, datasheets, and even interactive teaching, so educators have everything they need for a dynamic, technology-filled lesson.

kitronik-bluetooth_amp_kit_connectedAccording to the company, key features of the Bluetooth Stereo Amplifier Kit include:

  • 3W audio amplifier with Bluetooth link (based on a fully CE compliant module)
  • Enables music to be played from a phone, tablet, or computer wirelessly
  • LED and sounds indicate status information, such as pairing status
  • Optional connection point for additional off board LED

“We’re confident that students will relish developing their electronic skills in this fun and meaningful context using this kit,” said Spurr. “We always enjoy seeing the projects that have been created can’t wait to see amplifier projects on our Twitter feed.”

This project is a practical D&T learning opportunity, with plenty of real-life potential, for Key Stages 3 and 4 students (roughly ages 11-16) in the UK. It’s also a fairly inexpensive option if you’re trying to stick to a budget: I clicked on the 2160-A kit option, which comes with 65mm 4 ohm speakers, and it looks like it doesn’t cost more than £30, including VAT. Now, if you have a class of 30 students, that obviously adds up, but it looks like if you need to order a whole batch of kits, the individual kit price goes down. Talk about pumping up the volume on education! Discuss in the Kitronik forum at 3DPB.com.

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