CircuitMess Spencer: The Educational DIY Voice Assistant Hobby Kit
I have to admit, this kit took a bit less time to assemble [than the Ringo]. It also required less soldering which is good for my son, because he needs to spend time practicing before taking on projects such as this. Fortunately, CircuitMess manufactures and sells practicing kits which I will need to purchase for him to build up his soldering skills.
Anyway, upon opening the box for the Spencer, you will find all the components neatly categorized and separated.
Note – The instructions are available for download online and on the CircuitMess website but there is a problem with the English version. Midway through the instructions, the images are not available. I needed to download the German version to view those same images while continuing to follow the English instructions.
Aside from the minor issue with images in the English translation, it was relatively simple putting this kit together and we both had fun doing it. At the end, the Spencer was connected to the CircuitBlocks program to get the WiFi configured and the firmware updated.
Note – CircuitBlocks is available on Microsoft Windows, MacOS and Ubuntu Linux.
The best part of the Spencer is that it is very programmable. The IDE is very similar to Scratch. For those less familiar with Scratch, it is a very kid-friendly programming interface designed to teach the foundations and basics of programming computer code.
Now, we were still learning how everything works together and [more than once] flashed bad code to the Spencer. This resulted in the Spencer crashing every time and us restoring the firmware to its factory image. An easy fix and an easy process.
The last few pages of the instructions contain a list of supported questions and commands for the Spencer, as in asking what the weather is or having it tell a joke and many more. Listening to its responses is very entertaining.
Anyway, both my son and I enjoyed putting together this project and the CircuitMess Spencer is highly recommended for anyone looking to build something fun with their child.