Author Archive | Daniel

Training Provider? Get in touch!

One of the many questions we get asked on a regular basis, especially when at shows like Bett, is ‘do you do training?’ Whilst we absolutely love getting hands-on with a group of teachers eager to learn, we unfortunately haven’t got the capacity to offer such services. This is where you may be of assistance. 

We know that there are many many advocates of the Crumble, all around the country and we want to be able to direct people to contact suitable services in their area. We are having a bit of a website overhaul in the not-too-distant future and we want to provide a form of directory to help connect trainers to potential clients.

So if you offer training with the Crumble controller, or you know of people who do, could you fill in the following form and get in touch. We will then verify your information and, when the time comes, add it to our own directory.

Getting Started: Pitch Smart Crumb

If you didn’t know already, we have a range of new and exciting components to use with the Crumble: Smart Crumbs. If you don’t know anything about these yet, you can find out more here. In this post, we are going to focus on the Pitch Smart Crumb, which provides a simple and easy way of making music with your Crumble.

Smart Crumbs are just as easy to use as other Crumble components and after reading through this post, we’re sure you’ll be confident and raring to get stuck in making some retro-style music!

The Pitch Crumb, like all Smart Crumbs, requires a connection to power (+ and -) as well as a connection to an I/O port (A, B, C or D). For this example, we’ll connect it up to D, just because it makes our diagram easier to make!

Controlling the Pitch Smart Crumb, whilst still relatively simple, does pose a few more options compared to other Smart Crumbs. As Always, all of the relevant blocks are located within the ‘Smart’ tab.

There are two main ways that you can produce notes/tones with the Pitch Crumb. Either you can set the beats per minute (bpm) and then choose notes by name and duration, or you can choose to generate the tone using the frequency value (Hz), setting a duration by using a wait statement before stopping the note.

Let’s get ourselves started with a simple arpeggio – we’ll use the notes C – E – G – C, with each note lasting one beat at 60bpm.

If we wanted to create the same program, but using the frequency values instead, it would look something like this. You may find the notes to be ever so slightly different – this is because the true frequency of notes go into multiple decimal places, something which the Crumble cannot currently handle.

The main benefit of using the frequency block to manually select the notes we hear is that we can ‘generate’ more interesting sounds. Take this sound effect as an example. We’ve used the ‘random’ block to select the pitch of the note, as well as the length, providing us with sort of robotic loading sound.

The Smart Crumb: Pitch opens up an area which hasn’t existed on the Crumble before. Yes we’ve had buzzers providing a way of generating sound, but they can only produce one note. Now we are only limited by our hearing (roughly)! Welcome to the new world of simple melodies, doorbells, warning sirens, robotic voices and more!

We hope that this has covered the basics of how to use the Digits Smart Crumb, but if you do have any queries or questions, or you spot something that isn’t quite right feel free to get in touch! Get in contact with us via emailFacebookX or our Forum and we may feature your work!

Getting Started: Digits Smart Crumb

If you didn’t know already, we have a range of new and exciting components to use with the Crumble: Smart Crumbs. If you don’t know anything about these yet, you can find out more here. In this post, we are going to focus on the Digits Smart Crumb, which is a new output for the Crumble controller, made up of four 7-segment displays. This means that you will now be able to display values between -999 and 9999.

A Smart Crumb is really simple to use and after working your way through this post, you’ll be up-and-running in no time at all!

The Digits Crumb, like all Smart Crumbs, requires a connection to power (+ and -) as well as a connection to an I/O port (A, B, C or D). For this example, we’ll connect it up to D, for the simple fact it makes our diagram easier! 

Controlling the Digits Crumb is as easy as you would imagine and there are two relevant blocks, located within the ‘Smart’ tab in the Crumble software.

Let’s start with a simple program to check that all of our connections are good. This program will display the number 1234. If you aren’t seeing this, double check the wiring as well as the program.

As with all blocks with an editable number, we can instead use a variable to denote the value. This leads onto many more exciting possibilities.

Here we have a simple timer which starts counting up from 0 when the Crumble is powered on. You could then extend this to be resettable with a switch, or triggered by a specific event.

Remember when we said that it could display -999 to 9999? But what happens if my variable that I want to display is outside of that range? I hear you cry! Fear not, there are some built in symbols to alert you of this. If you try and go over the limit, you’ll be met with four lines along the top edge of the digits.

And we bet you can’t guess what happens if you go below the lower threshold? Yep, you guessed it – four lines along the bottom edge of the digits.

The Smart Crumb: Digits opens up a massive whole new world of possibility. Now that we can finally display variables in a meaningful way, all without being tied to a computer, we can create all manner of great projects. A stopwatch, score counter, coupled with the Smart Crumb: Temperature we can make a digital thermometer, or even by using two of them and a pair of switches we could make a game of numerical snap!

We hope that this has covered the basics of how to use the Digits Smart Crumb, but if you do have any queries or questions, or you spot something that isn’t quite right feel free to get in touch! Get in contact with us via emailFacebookX or our Forum and we may feature your work!

Getting Started: Temperature Smart Crumb

If you didn’t know already, we have a range of new and exciting components to use with the Crumble: Smart Crumbs. If you don’t know anything about these yet, you can find out more here. In this post, we are going to focus on the Temperature Smart Crumb, which, probably pretty obviously, enables us to measure and utilise within our Crumble programs the temperature in °C.

Each Smart Crumb is simple to use and after reading this post, you should easily have the basics nailed! Let’s start with connecting it to the Crumble.

A Smart Crumb needs a connection to power (+ and -) as well as one to an I/O port (A, B, C or D). We’ll connect ours to D, simply because that way we get a more aesthetically pleasing diagram! You’ll also need to wire up a battery pack to your Crumble too.

Now we can look at how to find the temperature and use this within a program.

First of all, locate the ‘Smart’ blocks section in the Crumble software. Here you will find all of the relevant blocks needed to control and use Smart Crumbs.

Now let’s run a simple program so that we can see the data we’re getting out of our temperature sensor. With any luck, when you flick to the ‘Variables’ tab you should be able to see the temperature.

Try grasping the Smart Crumb in your hand; the temperature should rise. Then when you let go again, it should fall. Although you can use the ‘temperature on x in °C ‘ block as a variable/integer, it is good practice to create and use a separate variable within your program e.g. we’ve used ‘t’. This is so that we can monitor what happens with the value and debug more easily (e.g. if there is data shown, we’ve wired it up correctly).

From here, we can easily embed our temperature sensor into any project we wish! Thermostat-controlled fan? Coolbox alarm? Investigation into which materials make good thermal conductors/insulators? These are just a few ideas to get you started!

We hope that this has covered the basics of how to use the Temperature Smart Crumb, but if you do have any queries or questions, or you spot something that isn’t quite right feel free to get in touch! Get in contact with us via emailFacebookX or our Forum and we may feature your work!

New Products: Smart Crumbs

If you’ve been active on X (RIP Twitter) over the past few months, or you’ve visited our website, then you may have noticed that we have some fantastic new accessories available for the Crumble: Smart Crumbs.

Smart Crumbs are the latest development within the Crumble-sphere and they open up a wide range of possibilities both now and in the future.

What is a Smart Crumb?

A Smart Crumb is an add-on board for the Crumble Controller, which provides a simple way of using and controlling devices that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. At the time of writing, we have three available – temperature, pitch and digits.

How do I connect to my Smart Crumb?

Similarly to the Sparkle, you need to provide power (+ and -) and then a single I/O connection. However, unlike a Sparkle, you can connect them to any one of the Crumble’s I/O pins (A, B, C or D).

Can I use more than one Smart Crumb?

You can use up to four of the same type of Smart Crumb on one Crumble, one connected to each of A, B, C and D, although you can also daisy chain multiple types of Smart Crumb to each I/O pin. So at the moment you could have 12 Smart Crumbs running off of one Crumble.

How does it work?

We have designed our own single-pin protocol to allow us to send data back and forth without needing to physically change any of the Crumble’s existing hardware.

Do I need to update my software/Crumble?

You will need the latest version of the Crumble software for access to the relevant blocks needed to use the Smart Crumbs (look for the Smart tab). As for the firmware on the Crumble, this will automatically be updated the first time you connect with the new software.

Where can I buy them?

Our current range of Smart Crumbs are available to buy from our webshop, either individually or more popularly as a pack of three.

Are there more Smart Crumbs coming?

We plan to develop and release more Smart crumbs in the not-too-distant-future. Possibilities include, more motor support, colour sensing, sound level and more! But if you have any thoughts or ideas please do let us know!

Getting Started: Using Sparkles

The Sparkle has got to be one of the most popular and satisfying Crumbs (components) for the Crumble. It is an easy to use RGB LED, which can be set to pretty much any colour. If this wasn’t enough, you can chain up to 32 together, and individually control each one!

They’re really easy to get started with, and are often used as a starting point, due to the clear results and feedback. We’re going to focus on connecting individual Sparkles, however we will look at other Sparkle-based items later on.

To get started, you will need to connect your battery pack to the Crumble. Notice that we connect the positive (+) on the battery pack to the + on the Crumble, and the negative (-) on the battery pack to the – on the Crumble.

Hint: You can connect to either the left or right + and -, but we use the left as standard.

Now we need to connect up our Sparkle. It’s important to get this bit correct, otherwise they won’t work. We need to connect the + and – from the Crumble to the corresponding connections on the Sparkle, and D, which you can think of as ‘data’ connects to the D input on the Sparkle. Take care to notice which way the arrow on the Sparkle points (away from the Crumble).

Now it’s time to get programming! Connect the Crumble to your computer via the micro USB lead, and open up the software. Write the following code, and think about what it will do before you run it. If you need more help programming, check out our first ‘Getting Started’ blog.

When you’re ready, switch on the batteries and run the program. You should see that your Sparkle has now turned red.

Changing the colour of your Sparkle is really simple. Click on the box with the colour in to bring up a colour palette, and select your colour of choice. Reprogram your Crumble and watch the colour change!

More Sparkles

Using multiple Sparkles is just as easy as using one! First of all, let’s connect another one to our chain. We connect the second Sparkle to the right hand side of the first one, matching the +, – and D connections. Notice the direction of the D arrow – it still points away from the Crumble.

Controlling each Sparkle individually is also really simple, in fact if you’ve followed these instructions, you’ve already done this. The number at the beginning of the Sparkle block, 0 by default, represents which Sparkle we want to control. This means that the 2nd Sparkle is ‘1’ and the 3rd would be ‘2’ etc. If you want to change which one you’re controlling, click the white box and change the number – you can control up to 32 of them.

If you want to set all of the Sparkles you’ve got connected to a single colour, you can use the ‘set all sparkles’ block. This sends the information to turn all of the Sparkles to the chosen colour.

Turning them off

It’s all well and good being able to change the colour of a Sparkle, but what if we want to turn them off instead? This is as easy, if not easier than changing their colour.

We can use either of the blocks pictured above, either to individually control one to turn off, or to turn them all off.

There is also another way to turn Sparkles off. You may have noticed already that the colour picker includes black, and for those of you that didn’t know already, we cannot shine a light black. In fact it is the opposite, it is an absence of light. Therefore if we set our Sparkle to be black, it will turn off!

Using RGB Values

The final two blocks that we haven’t covered (for individual Sparkles) are the RGB blocks. These blocks work in exactly the same way as the others, except we don’t use a colour picker to assign the colours, we instead choose how strong we want the red, green and blue emitters to be.

To change the values, click on the number within the red, green or blue boxes – you can insert a value between 0 and 255, 0 being low or off, and 255 being high, or fully on. You can also put variables in here too.

To help visualise the effect of changing the values, take a look at this graphic. The red, green and blue line represent the how strong we want the corresponding colour, between 0-255, and the background colour represents the colour that the Sparkle will produce.

Once you’re comfortable with how to connect and code Sparkles, you can include them in all manner of projects! Remember how we said that you can connect and control up to 32 at once? Well instead of wiring them up individually, we also do a Sparkle Baton (8 Sparkles), a Sparkle Matrix (5×5 grid of Sparkles), and a flexible Sparkle strip (30 Sparkles) all for your shiny pleasure, because let’s face it – you can never have too many lights!

We hope that this has covered the basics of how to use Sparkles, but if you do have any queries or questions, or you spot something that isn’t quite right feel free to get in touch! Get in contact with us via emailFacebookTwitter or our Forum, and we may feature your work!

Getting Started: Flashing the Motor LEDs

One of the very first things you can do when you get started with a Crumble, is to flash the Motor LEDs. This is pretty much the ‘Hello, World!’ program within the Crumble ecosphere.

It’s really easy to do, and it doesn’t require anything other than a Crumble, micro USB lead and a computer with the software installed.

So to get started, connect the USB lead into your computer, and connect that to the Crumble.

Now, if you haven’t already done so, open up the Crumble software. To get a motor LED on, we’re going to run the following program. Drag the blocks from the toolbar, connect them together, and hit play when you’re ready.

All being well, you should see a message telling you that programming was successful. Take a look at your Crumble – you should see that the motor LED is now on. Well done for writing your first Crumble program!

Now let’s move onto flashing the motor LED. As before, drag your blocks over and have a go at writing the following program. Before you run it, think about what it might do.

Hint: You can change/edit parts of blocks that are white or grey – click on the word ‘forwards’ to cycle through to stop.

Hopefully your motor LED is now flashing away. If you want to make the other side flash, simply click on the ‘1’ in the motor block, and it will change to 2!

Programming the Crumble is as easy as that! When you feel comfortable, you can move onto connecting the battery pack along with other components, like Sparkles, switches buzzers etc. If you want any ideas or inspiration for what to make, check out our blog or project pages.

Scanner Bot – The Inside Scoop

For those of you that ventured along to Bett this year, you may have spotted a small spinning robot on our stand, which we christened ‘The Scanner Bot’.

You may have even seen posts about it on Twitter. The project drew a lot of attention, and eventually it got us thinking – we need to turn this into a project on the website.

The idea for the project actually stemmed from last year’s Bett, where Helen, one of the Directors here at Redfern, wanted to highlight that fact that motors can be used in different ways. So whilst we were there, she created this :

As you can also see, Helen had been inspired by the video of a students’ work, posted by Phil Wickins.

Given that the inspiration for our new Scanner Bot had been ‘magpied’, we wanted to give credit where credit is due. So we contacted Phil to tell him about our project idea, and whether he was ok with us referring to it.

When he came back to us, he had gone above and beyond in providing loads of information about the project, including the original design work, which is awesome!

Meet the ‘Burglar Alarm Bot’ – the true inspiration behind our Scanner Bot project.

The Burglar Alarm Bot was made by William Bradley, a Year 6 pupil from Bitterne Manor Primary School, Southampton. We absolutely love this project, and as you can see, it looks great and it works really well!

In his blog about the teaching that went around this project, Phil outlines his creative approach to teaching physical computing. Instead of having a set project in mind, he teaches the children how to use the individual components, and then lets them use their imagination to come up with a project. We really like this approach to physical computing, as it enables children to work within their means, and push themselves to their own limits. The phrase “low floor, high ceiling and wide walls” comes to mind here.

One of the most important steps within this process, is the planning stage. As you can see from William’s design, he was confident in how he wanted his project to look.

The careful thought and consideration that went into the planning stage, and the prior learning (components) meant that William knew how the ‘insides’ would fit together, and this lead to a brilliant project.

Although we’ve focussed primarily on the Burglar Alarm Bot, if you head over to Phil’s blog, you will see many more great designs by the other pupils in his class.

If you want to have a go at making your own Scanner Bot, head over to our project page.

If you have a go at this project, or any other, we’d love to see! Get in contact with us via emailFacebookTwitter or our Forum, and we may feature your work!

I have the NEW Starter Kit – What Next?

The eagle-eyed amongst you, along with any one who saw us at Bett, or anyone that has ordered one already, will have noticed that the Starter Kit has changed!

Our New Starter Kit

It’s a long-discussed decision, and we finally felt that now was the right time to do it. Since its inception, the Starter Kit has undergone a few changes, including swapping out a normal battery box, for our short-protected one, and more recently, switching the plain white box for a fancy printed version, all whilst keeping the price the same!

The Starter Kit remains a very popular way for schools to get their hands on Crumble kit, with many opting to buy 15/16 for a class of 30 pupils. Although there are a good number of projects you can do with it, we decided that we wanted even more.

We thought long and hard, and we’ve now added in a buzzer and a light sensor, which transforms the number of projects you can do with just the starter kit!

Without further ado, let’s get stuck into some project ideas!

First of all, if you haven’t already looked at it, make sure to check out our original post. All of the projects still apply, but they don’t make use of the buzzer or the light sensor.

Morse Code

For a start, let’s look at morse code. We covered this in our original post, however morse code is traditionally audible – therefore it makes sense to put the buzzer to use!

The buzzer can be wired/controlled in a few different ways. You can either connect the positive side to an output (A, B, C or D) and the other end to negative (-) on the Crumble or the battery back, or you can connect the + and – to the corresponding connections on a motor output. We’re opting for the former.

To demonstrate it, we’ve opted to make the letter C. To sound the buzzer, set the output it is connected to, to HI. To stop the buzzer sounding, set it to LO.


Next up, we have a simple night light. The idea behind this is to create a light, using the Sparkle, which turns on when it gets dark. Connecting the light sensor is easy. Connect the + on the light sensor to a + output from either the Crumble or the battery pack. Then connect the negative (-) on the sensor to an I/O (A, B, C or D).

To incorporate this into a program is simple. We can either take and use the analogue reading from the connected I/O pad, or check whether the pin is HI or LO. We have used the latter for simplicity (this wouldn’t be easy with the old LDR). If A is HI, it is therefore light so we want to turn the Sparkle off, otherwise A must be LO, and it is dark so we want to turn the Sparkle orange.

If you want more detail, head to our nightlight project page.


Extending the idea of a nightlight brings us neatly onto a lighthouse. By using the same components, we can achieve a different outcome.

We’ve chosen to write the code slightly differently, to show how there are multiple ways of achieving the same outcome. This time our condition checks whether or not A is LO (it is dark). If it is, flash the Sparkle. Otherwise, turn the Sparkle off.

If you want more detail, head to our Lighthouse project page.

Drink Alarm

Our final idea combines the principles of the previous projects together, as well as the buzzer and light sensor. The idea behind this is that you have an object e.g. a drink on top of the light sensor. When the item is removed, the buzzer sounds. You could even add a flashing light if you wanted too!

Once again we’ve chosen a ‘different’ way of programming this. You could easily use the ‘IF__ELSE’ condition from the previous examples. This time we are putting a ‘pause’ on our program which waits until A is HI (the drink is removed and it gets light). After this condition is met, the program continues and beeps the buzzer. We then loop back to the beginning. If A is still HI then we keep hearing the buzzer beep.

These are just a few more examples of projects you can do with the Starter Kit, and we are sure that you will think of many more!

If you have a go at this project, or any other, we’d love to see! Get in contact with us via emailFacebookTwitter or our Forum, and we may feature your work!

Crumble Heads to Bett

Once again, some of the team here at Redfern are going along to exhibit at Bett – the British Educational Training and Technology show. The show takes place at the ExCel centre in London, and is one of, if not the largest educational technology shows in the World.

Last year’s stand at Bett.

Boasting over 34,000 attendees from 131 Countries spread across 4 days, Bett is no small feat. This year, the show is running in a slightly different way. Last year saw The Education Show take place alsongside Bett, but this year it will be ‘inside’ of it. Additionally, the show will be separated into six different zones: Learning Tech, Teaching Tech, Management Solutions, The Education Show, Equipment and Hardware, and Global Showcase. We will be in the Learning Tech Zone.

We will be there showcasing the Crumble, as well as telling you all about some new accessories and software upgrades we have in store! We will also have various items for sale at a discounted rate!

Bett is free to attend and it runs from 22nd – 25th January. Why not pop along and see us on stand SD70.