Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

DIY Gamer Kit

DIY Gamer Kit

Spring 2016 Toys
Ages: 12 & Up
Price: $100.00

DIY Gamer Kits, for building and programming simple game systems, are available in two formats: a pre-soldered set for children aged 10 years and up ($130), and a set which children aged 12 years and up (with adult supervision) solder themselves ($100). The kits are used to create handheld game systems which can be programmed with a variety of games and animations.

Both kits include the front and back acrylic casing, a gamer printed circuit board, an Arduino uno microcontroller, and a variety of resistors, transmitters, LEDs, buttons, and so forth. The difference is that kit for younger users comes pre-soldered and children need only snap, bolt, and clip the components together to get started. This takes twenty to thirty minutes.

If working with the non-soldered kit, parents will need to provide blue or white tack for soldering, a soldering iron, solder sucker, solder, wire cutters, a Philips screwdriver, safety goggles, and a safety mat for protecting the work surface (not to mention supervision and assistance). Children actually solder the components into their respective places. Assembly of the non-soldered version takes approximately two hours depending on soldering time. Both kits require a 9-volt battery (not included).

Simple, step-by-step instructions are available on the website; there is also a more detailed, fully-illustrated manual with additional project ideas available in PDF for viewing and/or printing. The instructions were visually appealing and easy-to-understand/follow. Once fully assembled, children can play Flappy Bird, create animations, make sounds, and even program their own games through downloadable Arduino software, an open-source prototyping platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It was designed for children (and parents) without a background in electronics and programming. This is an innovative and excellent introduction to electronics and programming that takes advantage of the keen interest many children in these age ranges have in playing and building electronic games.

Sharon Heuscher   ©2016 Parents' Choice
Sharon holds B.A.s in English Literature and Ancient Studies as well as a B.S. in Psychology. She is currently a masters-level trainee in Clinical Psychology specializing in neurodegenerative diseases. For the past thirteen years, Sharon has focused primarily on raising, educating, and nurturing her five children who range in age from three to thirteen.

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