Archive | News

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.

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!

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.


The Crumble at New Scientist Live

Last week saw us attend what is coined as ‘the world’s greatest science festival’. Over 40000 people attended across the four days, and made, what turned out to be an amazing show.

We had never been to, let alone exhibited at New Scientist Live (NSL) and as such, we were not sure how successful or useful the show would be. We’d ended up being at the show, after it was suggested to us that the Global STEM Award and the Crumble would fit in well. So we thought about it, and gave it a shot.

We ended up having a fantastic time, not just looking around the show, but talking to, and interacting with so many wonderful people! It’s lovely to watch children and adults alike being enticed in by a plethora of exciting Crumble activities.

UKSTEM were on the stand with us, talking about the Global STEM Award, and showing off their latest developments (which will be announced soon). For the vast majority of the show, we were swamped with people!

Mike from UKSTEM talking about the Global STEM Award

For the Crumble parts of the stand, we decided to work on making it look more exciting and fun to use. As we were in the lunar section, we went with a ‘spacey’ theme. We had two main Crumble activities – the first was to pre-program a lunar vehicle to get from one area of ‘the Moon’ – to another.

A Crumble Buildbot on our lunar surface

And the other was to recreate a light signal, which was shown to you on a matrix display. After programming a Crumble, you ‘docked’ it onto the giant matrix display to see if you had gotten the pattern correct!

Our giant Crumble Matrix

All in all, we had a brilliant time over the four days. We had many interesting conversations with people about the Crumble, our mini dataloggers and the Global STEM Award. and I definitely think that we will be exhibiting next year.

National Coding Week – Blog Special

Next week is National Coding Week, and we thought to celebrate this, we would release a series of blogs dedicated to a project theme. This time we have chosen ‘games’. Each day there will be a new blog post detailing how to create a simple game-related project. Then at the end of the week, each one of these projects will connect together to form a game, which we will go into more detail on Friday.

As it stands, here is our current plan of action: Monday – colour picker using a Sparkle; Tuesday – dice using a Matrix display; Wednesday – letter spinner; Thursday – audible countdown; and Friday – Playing the game!

Each individual blog (apart from Friday) aims to provide you with a small project that you can do discretely, and then if you complete each one, you will be able to combine the smaller projects into a form of game.

Like other initiatives, National Coding Week is designed to encourage people of all ages to try something new, around the theme of coding/programming. There is a massive emphasis that not just schools get involved, but individuals and businesses too! You can find out more on their website.

If you have a go at any one of these projects, we’d love to see! Get in contact with us via email, FacebookTwitter or our Forum.

NCW Day 1 – Colour Picker

Welcome to our first blog post, in a series of five, in celebration of National Coding Week. If you haven’t already, take a look here to find out more about what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it. The first aspect of our game is going to be a colour picker. The aim of this […]

NCW Day 2 – Dice

Welcome to our second blog post, in a series of five, in celebration of National Coding Week. If you haven’t already, take a look here to find out more about what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it. The next aspect of our game involves a random number selection, and in our case, digital dice. […]

NCW Day 3 – Letter Spinner

Welcome to our third blog post, in a series of five, in celebration of National Coding Week. If you haven’t already, take a look here to find out more about what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it. The next part of our game is going to be a letter spinner. The aim of this project […]

NCW Day 4 – Countdown Timer

Welcome to our fourth blog post, in a series of five, in celebration of National Coding Week. If you haven’t already, take a look here to find out more about what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it. The next part of our game is going to be a countdown timer. The aim of this project […]

NCW Day 5 – Game Time!

Welcome to our fifth and final blogpost from our National Coding Week special. If you’ve missed any of the other four, or want to find our more about what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it, then head over here to find out more. This final post, as mentioned previously, is all about playing a […]

Pi Wars: a Story

Back in the summer of 2018, Joseph and I found ourselves at a ‘super secret’ meal after the first evening of Raspberry Fields. Apparently, staying in the same seats for the duration wasn’t allowed, and as such, we chatted to a few different people. Luckily, for our dessert, we ended up sitting opposite Michael Horne and Tim Richardson – famed for creating the infamous Pi Wars robotics competition. I had heard about the event on Twitter, and was especially interested in having a go.

To cut a long story short, I was very keen to take part! Furthermore, Joseph was definitely up for sponsoring the event with some prizes.

The good news came on the 30th of September 2018. Our application had been successful and we were set to compete in Pi Wars 2019! I was to take the reins on our entry, as Joseph is a very busy person, and as I was fairly new to python, it would be a great learning experience.

“I knew it was going to be challenging, but I hoped it would be rewarding as well”

The process of learning how to do any of this was going to be quite extensive. I’m a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator, and I had tinkered with the Pi on the odd occasion, including making a Wiimote controlled vehicle using the CamJam kit but I had never completed anything beyond this. I knew it was going to be challenging, but I hoped that it would be rewarding as well. One of the best ways to learn a programming language is to use it in context; a real application.

When discussing ideas for the robot (before we had applied), Joseph had mentioned that there was a Python library to control the Crumble over USB. This was brilliant. We could use the Pi for all of the processing power (to stick within the rules!) and the Crumble could be used as our Motor Driver board, and power any Sparkles we may want to attach.

My first step was to focus on learning Python. I’d become familiar with a couple of written/block-based languages in the past, and I had even gotten halfway through a Python course, but unfortunately it had been a while so I needed to start from scratch. I made it part way through an Udemy course, and then I started and completed the free Python course from Codeacademy. This was a big step for me. I had reached the end of a programming course, and I was feeling much more confident in getting started.

“After swearing I would get started before Christmas… January arrived”

After swearing that I would get started before Christmas, and not do my usual procrastinating, January arrived. It was very busy – we were heading to BETT this year to exhibit. I knew I wasn’t going to get started until February. As a part of a conversation with our Spanish distributor for the Crumble (Complubot), Joseph had been made aware of something very useful – The Pixy Cam.

After getting back from BETT, we looked into the Pixy2. It looked incredibly easy to use, it could detect coloured objects and lines, and it was possible to interface with it via Python – perfect! We purchased the camera, along with a pan and tilt mechanism, and couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

The included software for the camera was simple to use, and offered some great features – especially when it came to tweaking the camera’s settings to recognise colours (signatures) and lines (vectors). One of the steepest learning curves, however, involved interfacing with the camera via Python. It seemed that the device was much more suited to controlling via an Arduino than a Raspberry Pi, and as such, it was hard to find a great deal of information about using it with Python.

As a part of the installation process, four example Python programs were generated. I would rely heavily on these to work out what to do!

I was becoming overwhelmed with the ever-decreasing time left, and this caused me to take some drastic action – a mind map! I planned a very basic chassis to get something moving, and then wrote down what steps needed to be completed before the big day. This is called decomposition – breaking down a problem into smaller, more manageable pieces.

“I was feeling much better about the still mammoth task ahead”

One of my first steps was to control a motor connected to the Crumble, by using Python This would become my ‘Hello World’ style program. After this small, but important step, I was feeling much better about the still mammoth task ahead.

The remote control portion of the project was quickly finished – I had used the ApproxEng library for connecting to, and controlling motors, in the past, so it didn’t take much to adapt the code to work for the Crumble. Theoretically, that was the programming completed for half of the challenges!

The steepest learning curve, and the point at which I repeatedly questioned why I was doing any of this, was programming the autonomous challenges. After tinkering with the example Python programs, I decided to start with the Line following program. This wasn’t too difficult to do – I had experience with various algorithms for line following. Once I had worked out what information I could use from the Pixycam, it all fell into place quite quickly! After this, I set to work on driving towards a colour signature. This was with the autonomous maze in mind as I felt that this would be more challenging than the Nebula. Once I had the working maze code, I could reuse elements of it to help recognise, and correctly approach the four colours in the Nebula task.

I learnt a lot whilst programing these challenges:

  • Things fail – a lot. I spent a lot of time thinking, staring at code trying to make sense of why it wasn’t working.
  • Take breaks. I regularly found myself slumped at my desk, getting increasingly frustrated. I stopped, came back to it the next day and more often than not, immediately solved my issue.
  • Don’t be afraid to redo something. Some of the functions I had written were messy, and didn’t work properly. A whole new line of thinking enabled me to produce better, and more efficient code!
  • Not everything has to be perfect. This is was an amateur robotics competition, of which I am a beginner. It was better to have something clunky but working, than something that doesn’t work at all. The day before the competition, in consultation with Joseph, I decided to put my ‘fancy’ maze following code to bed, and develop a simpler version. Given that the maze was preset, and we had access to the plan, why would I even bother looking for the next alien to the left, if i knew it was a right turn?

We both thoroughly enjoyed our time at Pi Wars. It was a day of both success and failure, but it was a very rewarding task to undertake. I managed to battle my way through to the Grand Final of Pi Noon ( a 1v1 balloon popping battle), coming second after a close final. But more surprisingly, we won the beginner category! Our slow, solid and steady Crumble Robot had powered its way round to victory!

Here are just a few pictures from the day!

This whole experience has proven that one of the best ways to learn programming is to give it a context. Trying to learn something whilst not giving it a real-life context makes it very difficult, and it doesn’t ‘stick’. It is worth mentioning that this is one of the main ideas behind physical computing – blurring the lines between a computer and physical components and pieces. Programming and controlling something that you’ve made yourself gives you a fantastic feeling, and I definitely have a stronger urge to continue, more so than in the past.

The Crumble Heads to Bett

The team here at Redfern Electronics/Mindsets, along with Mike and Beckie from UKSTEM, 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 show(s) in the World.

Why not come and visit us on stand D413 – It’s free!

Boasting over 34,000 attendees from 136 Countries spread across 4 days, Bett is no small feat.

We will be there, showing off the Crumble, amongst other things, to quite literally the World! As well as interactive Crumble demonstrations, Mike and Beckie from UKSTEM will be there showing off their fantastic new initiative, ‘The Global STEM Award‘ as well as another exciting project, Supergrid.

Bett is free to attend and it runs from 23rd – 26th January. Why not pop along and see us on stand D413.


Global STEM Launch and the Scottish Learning Festival

Last week was a very busy week for us here at Redfern Electronics. We attended two different event, one in York, and the other in Glasgow! This meant one thing – road trip!

Tuesday saw the official launch event of the ‘Global STEM Award‘, by UK STEM, at the highly-acclaimed National STEM Centre in York. We were there to integrate our products into the Global STEM Award, and all in all, it was a brilliant day. The event was well attended, with over 90 students from local schools, and as far afield as China! The Chinese students were on a trip to the UK, partially organised by Mike Cargill (Director, UK STEM), and it made sense to have more of a global audience for the launch of the Global STEM Award.

After Tuesday’s launch, we drove straight up to Glasgow, to set up for the Scottish Learning Festival. We knew it was going to be tight – but we managed to arrive with 30 minutes to set up – and we finished with time to spare! After our very busy day, we decided it was time to unwind…

We were at the Scottish Festival of Learning mainly to exhibit the Crumble. We are finding that whilst the Crumble is well established in England and Wales, it seems that most of Scotland haven’t heard of us! It definitely made sense to exhibit.

We had a great couple of days at the exhibition, and we had a great number of interesting conversations, with some fantastic people. Everyone was pleasantly surprised to find out how easy to use the Crumble is, and how it’s a perfect first step into the world of Physical Computing.

Crumble heads to the Education Show

Last week, a few of us travelled up to the NEC, Birmingham for the Education Show. We were there mainly to exhibit the Crumble as the show tends to be geared towards Primary and Home Educators – and the Crumble is perfect for Primary Computing and Design and Technology. Loads of people had a go with the Crumble and there was a real excitement surrounding the stand.

We were sharing our stand with Mike and Beckie from UK STEM – they were launching their fantastic new initiative called ‘The Global Stem Award’ which you can find out about here.

When the show had quietened down, we even found time to set each other some Crumble challenges!

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the show and it was great to meet so many new and familiar people, all of whom share our excitement and passion for education. We look forward to the next one.