Creation Crate is a subscription box for teens and adults ages 12 and up who want to learn how to build and program electronics. Each month you will receive the necessary electronic components and access to a thorough online curriculum to create your tech projects. These projects build on skills learned and increase in difficulty. You'll need access to a computer, the internet, and a USB port, but everything else you need is included in the box!
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).
About Creation Crate
The Subscription Box: Creation Crate
The Cost: $29.99 per month. Save with longer subscriptions.
The Products: All of the required components to complete the month's project along with access to an online classroom with tutorials, exercises, and instructions on how to write your code.
Ships to: The U.S. for $4.99, Canada and worldwide for $8.99
Creation Crate Project 6: "2 Player Reflex Game" Review
Bonus Gifts: Component Case XL, Soldering Kit, and Digital Multimeter
When you subscribe to a quarterly, semi-annual or annual plan, you will receive a few bonus gifts depending on which subscription option you choose. Creation Crate was kind enough to send me a few items to share with you! To read more about the component case and soldering kit, check out my first review here! To learn more about the multimeter, check out the details in this review! While these are great to have on hand, they are not necessary for your projects each month.
The project for this month is to make our own 2-Player Reflex Game. This sheet provides instructions on how to access the online course. While the projects do build upon one another in skill each month, I did not need any other items besides what is in this month's box and my computer.
All of our supplies were packaged neatly and protected by a piece of bubble wrap.
Breadboard and UNO R3
The two main components we needed were a breadboard and this UNO R3 they provided.
They also provided this cable with a USB port at one end to hook our project up to our computer for programming.
Jumper Wires and Resistors
We also received several jumper wires and some 220 OHM and 10K OHM resistors.
Buzzer and U-Shaped Jumpers
They included a buzzer and several U-shaped jumper wires for us.
Button and Button Caps
They included a button and several caps for it. I was actually missing a few buttons from my crate this month, but they were quick to send me new ones so I could get started on this project!
Logging into the Course
Logging into your course can be a little tricky the first time, so I've included some screenshots of the steps. After navigating to the classroom, you'll select "All Courses" and scroll down to find the "Original Courses" button. Then you select the course you want and hit the "Buy" button. From here you'll be prompted to create a new account or log in if you already have an account. There will be a section to enter your access code which can be found on the Parts List in your box and it will bring your total to $0.00 and allow you access to the course.
Once you begin your project, you'll notice a little sidebar that provides your progress throughout the course. While the components may be different each time, the course will be divided into many subsections that follow a logical order making it easy to follow along with since it is so well organized. There are even some troubleshooting sections.
One thing I think is so great about Creation Crate is they provide access to a "Getting Started Course" for those who are beginners. I was thoroughly impressed with this course. They went into all of the details about currents, amps, power, and voltage. They provided visual demonstrations of how things work and explained each of the components that we would be working with such as breadboards, jumper wires, and LEDs. I thought they had a great way of explaining and making real-life comparisons to help us gain an understanding of the concepts. This felt like a true educational course and was on par with something you might take in college!
Now let's get to this month's project! First, they introduced our project and displayed a parts list. They also provided a PDF version of the instructions for us to download. There is a sidebar that also tracks your progress and breaks everything down into steps.
Part 1: Assembling the Hardware
These are the instructions for adding the components to our breadboard. The breadboard reads like a grid with numbers going vertically and letters horizontally which makes it a little easier to place items, but I always find it a little tricky working within such a small space.
I began by adding my buttons, resistors, and LEDs.
Then I added jumper wires to connect the breadboard to the UNO R3 and then plugged that into the computer using the USB cord they provided.
This month there was a lot of extra educational information regarding floating pins, pullup resistors, and pulldown resistors.
Part 2: Write the Program
With our components in place, it was now time to type in the code using Arduino. With our first project, they provided directions for how to download Arduino's free software along with a coding video that explained the basics to us. While entering code is essentially just typing in what they give you word for word, it can be quite tedious and it's easy to make a mistake. Luckily, they include a section on common errors to help us troubleshoot. They break down the coding into sections and use notations to help us understand what each section is for.
Before beginning, I opened Arduino and created a new file named 2_Player_Reflex_Game and then started my code. This month we had to fill in some of the blanks throughout our code using knowledge that we've gained from previous projects. This was a little tricky but was basically just noting where the connections were made between our breadboard and UNO R3.
Before getting into the program, they included a lot of information about Functions and how they work within coding.
The coding was all broken down and very detailed this month. Once I had fixed any coding errors (which show up in red when you go to upload the program), I was able to run the program successfully and play the game. They included some information on how the game actually works.
You press the center button to begin. It blinks 3 times to let you know that game is starting and then the first player to press their button when the blue LED lights up is the winner. The winner will be announced by having that player's LED light up.
I ran the serial monitor and this showed me in text what the results of each round were. This included who won and how quickly they reacted.
Now that the game was working properly, it was time to try the exercises. This month was so challenging to me! I was able to complete exercise 1 with ease, but the pullup resistor exercise really stumped me! I know the answers are there and that I will be able to get it, but it's going to take me some more time dedicated to really understanding the concept. I am a very visual learner, so this is something that as soon as someone else showed me how to do it, I'm sure it would click, but figuring it out on my own will take me just a bit longer.
As for exercise 3, I don't think I'm going to get that one. I tried several different things and I don't understand exactly what I'm missing. I do feel pretty confident about the bonus exercise though and I think that I can get the buzzer to work. Don't get me wrong, I have been trying, and I am consulting the coding and hardware tutorials from previous projects that included a buzzer, but in the interest of time, I haven't been able to figure it out just yet for the sake of this review.
Here is my proof that I was able to solve at least one exercise this month and get the lights to blink faster!
If we did have any major issues, they have a classroom discussion that we can use to ask questions. It looks like Creation Crate responds very quickly to any concerns, too! I really do appreciate all of the information and assistance that they provided throughout this whole process.
It was easy to see once we had completed everything in the course thanks to the side menu. The last section is where they encourage you to share your work in exchange for some cool rewards.
Verdict: I am six projects in on this Creation Crate subscription and it is starting to get pretty challenging! This month was a mix of both hardware and software challenges, and while I temporarily gave up in order to get this review done in a timely manner, I am confident that once I really go through all of the information I have available to me through the courses, I will be able to get that buzzer to work! This subscription is teaching me new skills and helping me to stay sharp which I really appreciate. I know a lot of people are doing distance learning at the moment and this subscription would be a great way to work on those tech and coding skills at home!
To Wrap Up:
Creation Crate projects are a combination of building hardware and programming software with a focus on helping you understand how it works. Each month, you'll be given a new project that's slightly harder than the last.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
What do you think of Creation Crate?