SaniaBOX review

By Rob Zwetsloot. Posted

Despite how easy it is to put together a very specific physical computing teaching kit with a Raspberry Pi, there are actually not that many full kits that do so that include a mouse, keyboard, and Raspberry Pi.

SaniaBOX is slightly different, though. Akin to a mix of the official Desktop Kit and specialised beginner’s kits, the package comes with the requisite Raspberry Pi, keyboard, mouse, and microSD card along with the special SaniaBOX add‑on board and a series of components.

This Kickstarter project brought to life was the idea of a Sania Jain, a 13-year-old who wanted to introduce coding to younger kids where possible. To that end, the all-important add-on board part of the kit includes a series of sensors, LEDs, as well as that big three-digit, seven-segment display.

Quick build

Unlike a pi-top or a Piper, you’re not building a laptop or laptop-esque system – instead you’re setting up a Raspberry Pi as normal and popping the HAT-like SaniaBOX add-on on top. Faster than even loading up your favourite streaming service (we’ll catch up with you later, Picard) and it does allow you get stuck in straight away with some coding lessons.

On the microSD card are a series of coding challenges, and you can find tutorials on the SaniaBOX website if you want to check out how the whole system works before diving in. The code for controlling the add-on bard can be simple (like with the LEDs) or a little more complicated (as with a 120-line script for working the seven-segment displays). The kit comes with some other LEDs, some diodes, and a breadboard so that you can do proper circuit prototyping once you graduate from some of the SaniaBOX add-on’s functions.

Simple and fun

The special add-on board works just fine, and has plenty of little sensors and ideas to keep younger folks – and even older folks new to making – entertained. With all the various functions, you can easily make something like a barometer – a great practical use of coding and electronics.

The price is possibly being reduced by the time you read this as well, so if the cost of it is putting you off a bit, it may well have about £15 / $20 knocked off. Considering that the Raspberry Pi Desktop kit with a very similar selection of components will set you back £100 / $120, we think it’s a pretty good deal.

Verdict

8/10

A great and simple way to get younger makers (and even older newbies) into computing and coding.


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