New & Reviewed

Get Started: Makeblock Neuron

DIYODE Magazine

Issue 7, January 2018

Makeblock have been hugely successful launching crowdfunded products, which then enter the general market. We were impressed by their AirBlock drone & hovercraft creation, and we’re equally impressed by Neuron.

Really, it’s no surprise that this product is fantastic. It came into existence thanks to a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, which raised USD367,129 (no that’s not a typo - that’s almost $500,000 Aussie dollars at current exchange rates!), from almost 1500 different backers. Makeblock have a stunning history with crowdfunding, and this marked their sixth successful campaign on the platform. With the crowdfunding and product development side completed, and crowdfunding backers’ orders fulfilled, Neuron has hit the market with a big splash.

While the Neuron is definitely targeted to be STEM / child-friendly, it’s a great introduction to maker electronics for any age. For someone a little older, you may find the projects a little child-like, but the knowledge you’ll learn is still fantastic.

There are a few different flavours of the Neuron kit; the one we received is the Inventor Kit. Their winning approach of magnetic connections that are also compatible with Lego, provide a vast array of opportunities for expansion outside of what’s supplied too.

The Inventor Kit provides you with some fantastic projects. The kit itself includes a rechargeable power module, as well as a Bluetooth module (the heart of everything). There are two input sensors, a gyro and “funny touch”. There are three output modules (a 64 LED panel, buzzer, and servo system).

All modules connect together with magnetic tool-less systems, making it safe and easy, and it also provides some fundamental modules to experiment with so you can instantly get going. It’s not just all about the modules however, there are Neuron boards, which provide additional structure for mounting and experimenting with. And because they’re compatible with Lego bricks, you can build structures from Lego and then implement the electronics to make it do something fun!

The Inventor Kit also includes a great collection of printed cardboard structures. These provide some context for the electrical experiments, to gamify the experience further. You can create a DJ machine, interactive electric guitar, telegraph machine, noisy robot, and much more.

As with other Makeblock systems, the Neuron projects all revolve around their app. This provides a simple and visual method to code the hardware even without any understanding of coding languages. Compatible with most major platforms, you can code from your computer or tablet. This simplified coding system really teaches logic functions and other code principles, even for kids not really old enough to try their hand at full-language coding.

Suffice to say, we’re impressed. It’s a fantastic system, and it’s available late January 2018.

Neuron by Makeblock is available at Jaycar Electronics

Included in the Kit