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DIY smart objects kit

Meet the next generation erector set

Microsontroller smart objects kit
Thames and Kosmos

Was there anything cooler than an Erector Set when you were ten? Twenty?

Billed by Thames and Kosmos as a "computer systems engineering kit," the Microcontroller appeals to those same instincts for constructive adventure. It comes with circuits and prewritten programs that will allow you to turn ordinary objects into "smart objects."

Actually, this $150 toy for kids is also a cool way for adults to mess around and learn how to assemble circuits and write computer programs.

The microcontroller contains a computer processor, storage for memory, timers and ports. The kit comes with 100 programs and a book of directions on how to put them into action. Some examples: a light meter that records data and a temperature sensor that tracks changes.

You write the programs on a regular computer and then upload them to the microprocessor. The booklet tells how, but you must have a computer with 5MB of free space on your hard drive, a USB port and Windows 98 or better.

Once you have mastered the basics, you can than use the kit to create your own programs and cool little toys.

Source: Chip Chick