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Piper Computer Kit STEM Learning Toy
Author: Jason Kohrs
Manufacturer: Piper
Source: Piper
Purchase: Amazon.com
Comment or Question: Post Here
Page: 5 of 6 [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 ]
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November 26, 2019

In Use:

At this point we encountered our only bit of confusion on the project, and hitting the Internet showed we were not alone. The computer was assembled through all steps of the blueprint, but it wasn't explicit as to what should be done next. I didn't want to assume anything and lead my son past any steps that might have been part of the learning experience, but basically you should plug the mouse into a USB port, plug the battery pack into the wall, and fire the Piper up for the first time.

The images below show my son eagerly waiting for the first boot up to complete, then acknowledging that we should connect to the Internet to apply any updates, and then meeting with success after it had connected to our home's Wi-Fi. From here the subsequent steps of the device construction were revealed in story mode.

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While you don't necessary have to pick from just story mode or Piper code mode, these two really make the most sense. The PC is functional at this point, as long as you only need a mouse to navigate, and story mode leads you through little activities, much like a video game, but they are showing you how to assemble the keypad, wire it up, and how it can be used in different ways. If you check out the images on the screens below, you will see animated versions of the wiring diagrams to be followed for connecting each key. Your character in the "game" can navigate the PCB like it was a real place, and you can see exactly how to wire up the green, red, blue, and yellow buttons. A black button will come a bit later, but in the meantime you now have up/down, left/right controls that along with the mouse are all you really need for Minecraft and this Minecraft like story mode journey.

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With an additional breadboard and a selection of additional buttons, switches, and wires, the builder can then customize the user interface. Once step has a button wired in that helps you lay a TNT block every time you right click on the mouse and click on the button. My son thought that was cool, until the next step showed him how to make that weapon faster to use by removing the button and wiring in a switch. Now all he had to do was flip the switch to on, and then his right clicks had him dropping TNT even faster.

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The activities progress in a fairly linear manner, and you unlock new activities just like you would unlock a new level in a game. My son was very into this, and has proceeded through story mode nicely and spends a good deal of time just exploring the software, hardware, and playing around with the computer in general We have yet to enter Piper code mode, but I am excited for him to want to go there, as well. While he has absolutely zero complaints, my only issue is with Pip (the main character and narrator of story mode), whose voice is very shrill and after a while I believe it will get to most adults. All things considered, a squeaky mouse voice isn't the worst thing in the world, though.

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