If you like experimenting with electronics, you’ve probably come across Adafruit. It’s like a modern, cooler version of Radio Shack online. They offer microcontroller platforms like Raspberry Pi and Arduino, breakout boards, electronics kits, tools, individual components, and more. They also make and sell their own custom electronics kits and projects.
If you’re into electronics, robotics, or anything of the sort, and have not yet heard of Adafruit, definitely check them out.
Everything sold on the site is hand-picked by LadyADA and Adafruit supports everything they sell. Visiting each part’s page, you’ll find detailed descriptions, specs and links to relevant documents, and several tutorials and projects by the Adafruit staff. Furthermore they have a support forum for getting help with their products.
Adafruit isn’t just another place to buy components, breakout boards, and supplies, they show you how to use them too. Their Tutorials are a huge leap above what was available just a few years ago, let alone 10-20 years ago.
Now, Adafruit is starting a subscription service. For $60 each time, you’ll receive an AdaBox package every quarter. There’s no word as to whether there will be a discounted annual subscription, so figure it’ll be $240 a year. They charge you when your AdaBox ships out, and you can cancel anytime.
- Each AdaBox is filled with curated Adafruit products focused around a theme, and a unique collectible.
- Custom tutorials and videos to help guide you through the contents of your AdaBox.
- Discount codes for future orders at Adafruit, and subscriber-only content.
I quoted the original wording from the site, because the language seems to be chosen very carefully. I think they are using as broad of language as possible so as not to limit what they can include in the box, while trying to be as descriptive as possible without giving away any of the surprise you’ll get when you open it.
As this is a brand new service, there are no previous Adaboxes to show you an example of what you could get. The closest thing we have is Adafruit’s own AdaBox preview video.
In the Adabox FAQ, they say that the contents are a mystery and they are not guaranteeing that the things in the video will be in the AdaBox.
Subscribing to the AdaBox will run you $60 every three months. It is currently only available in the continental US, but if you do live there the cost includes shipping. You can cancel anytime, but if the box is already shipped, you are out of luck because they don’t take returns.
As of Monday, August 8th, they say the next box will ship in 28 days.
Interesting Things to Note:
- You don’t have to know how to solder
- AdaBox is tailored for all skill levels
They say this about whether you can “try just one box”:
A brief period after the AdaBox is sent out to subscribers, we’ll try to have it available on the Adafruit store. That being said, we can’t guarantee the same AdaBox subscriber experience – so the appearance, exclusives, and subscriber-only discounts might not be included – but if you want to get a feel for what’s included before signing up, buying past boxes is a great way to get started.
So if you’re not really interested in subscribing, you might be able to buy a box on a case by case basis after they ship out to subscribers.
In the FAQ, there’s mention of a 10% coupon code. Perhaps the AdaBox discounts will be better, or more focused. Say… 15% off robotics products? There’s no way to know. However, Adafruit regularly mentions coupon codes via social media, such as a 10% code that goes on Wednesdays, coinciding with one of their shows.
As an electrical engineer and an electronics hobbyist, I’m excited for this product. Who doesn’t like getting a box full of cool stuff in the mail? My previous experience with Adafruit kits has been excellent and I’ve seen that sentiment echoed by other makers that I follow on social media.
I’m hoping that I can build these projects with my kids to give them some experience with electronics. I’ve found that getting kids interested in electronics isn’t very easy (or maybe I’m not that good at it). I’ve tried a few things like Snap circuits and Arduino projects with my daughter, but there just seems to be too steep of a learning curve to keep her attention.
If you aren’t familiar with Adafruit, on the ToolGuyd forum I started a short list of things I’ve either purchased from Adafruit or think are neat.
Stuart’s Note: I will be ordering a subscription for myself, and will be sending one to Benjamen too. I too like to work with electronics, and it’s enjoyable to try new things. Sometimes I’m not very adventurous if I don’t have an immediate need for a “learning” type project.
Trying new things is a good way to grow, and I really wish there was a program like this back when I started with electronics. I imagine that some AdaBoxes will be focused on wearables, and others Internet of Things projects. But that’s just a guess. I’m interested enough to give this a shot. We’ll report back once our boxes are in!