I wanted to make a comment about how damn good the monthly Hackerbox from hackerboxes.com is.
I had seen them online, but it was only when I was at DEFCON last year that I was able to peer inside the boxes they were selling there. Irresistible. As soon as I returned home I subscribed. They are $44 per month, and each month is a themed box, full of goodies based on that months theme.
What kind of ‘goodies’? Well they always have a few constructional items, so soldering is required. There is also generally a microcontroller in there like an Arduino Nano to run one or more of the projects. The parts are good quality from what I’ve seen and I have seen about nine now. You also get fun extras like stickers, coins, a Beanie Hat!
So how do you know what to do with the parts? Each month they put up an Instructable telling you what to do with the parts. Be aware that it is not a hand-holding instructable, it gives just enough detail to get you going, along with the idea behind why the parts were supplied, so you need some experience already with working with programming microcontrollers, soldering etc. Either that or you are going to learn fast, which is perfectly possible for some. And in a way, this is exactly what these boxes are aimed at, getting people to step outside their current zone of experience and extend it.
Now, I’m in the UK. Hackerbox do not ship to the UK, so I had to sign up with a forwarding service, which gives you a US address to which they send the box. Once there, you choose which carrier and service you would like for sending over to the UK. In that sending process, you will have to declare the value of the box and this will trigger a customs tax payment request once the box reaches the UK. So far I have used two options for mailing it to me. DHL comes in at about $28 and then import tax is around £13, which includes the carriers fee for asking for the payment. That service has had the box in my hand as little as three days after it arrived with the forwarding company. There is another option I have used that is around $13, takes longer (7 – 10 days) and has the same import tax of course. I had to use the more expensive DHL service one month because the box contained some coin cell batteries and the cheaper shipping option would not cover that. Stackry alerted me to that though so it was all quite simple to re-arrange the shipping.
I would recommend you go with Stackry (stackry.com) as a forwarder. I tried two before that and had quite considerable problems with them. Stackry have been flawless thus far and their website is super clear and simple to use. PLUS, they offer a $10 off first try of their service! Either use this link (https://www.stackry.com/register?referral=7149775) or enter this code at the checkout (7149775). I should say I will get $10 too, so I hope this helped. Of course, you can use them for any forwarding, not just Hackerboxes…
So I am just waiting for my March box to arrive which this month is PIC microcontroller themed and looks absolutely amazing. Every month I try my best to not go looking at what is in the box, waiting until I open it for the surprise. But that hasn’t happened yet, I cannot help myself!
I dive in from time-to-time and build parts. One of my favourite is the 2.4GHz yagi antenna built from plastic pipe and cut copper wire for the elements. It works extremely well. I will add a few images here after posting.
So, I cannot recommend this subscription box enough. It is not cheap when you factor in the shipping and import tax, but for a monthly box of absolute joy, you can’t go wrong here.