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CircuitMess’ Spencer Is the Build & Code Your Own Voice Assistant


Build to Learn to Code

A lot is made of people learning to code — especially that for young people — because it’s the “path to the future.” There’s no argument against becoming conversant in technology that is part and parcel of the 21st Century, but there’s also a need to learn how to do things with ones own hands. So creating/building an electronic device that uses coding as part of its core provides both information and knowledge as well as hands-on experience. Of course getting eased into all this requires that the process doesn’t make any assumptions. The system should have all that is needed to do the process and so let’s introduce CircuitMess’ Spencer. Spencer is a hands-on STEM experience for a voice assistant that you build and code yourself.


Spencer Needs Tools

Now CircuitMess doesn’t assume that the person, whatever age, putting Spencer together has the tools on hand — let’s be real because Radio Shack is long gone and the days of going rummaging for parts and using tools from one’s grandfather’s basement pretty much disappeared dozens of years ago. So to avoid the “we can’t do this” you can buy their Everything you need to get can be found in their also available (optional to get) tool kit. Inside are a number of items needed to use with Spencer — examples being a screwdriver, needle nose pliers, diagonal cutter pliers (for cutting excess electronic component leads) and the main ingredient — possibly necessitating adult supervision — being a soldering iron. This iron heat up and the tip allows for solder (which is also supplied) makes connections between wiring. A stand to hold the iron is also included (very important to use) as is a cleaning sponge to keep the tip clean. It’s a nice and basic kit that will serve the user well.

And because the person doing the soldering might not have had any previous experience, supply a pair of work gloves and let the person practice using the soldering iron and solder against a safe matt/surface that can handle a possible burn mark. So getting more solder makes sense and having a pair of safety glasses does too. Sure this is making it sound a bit scary but safety requires thinking ahead — and practicing with the soldering iron will just about gurantee that the actual soldering needed won’t be botched up. Plus practicing a couple of steps before actually doing them won’t hurt either.


Spencer Needs Assembly

So let’s get back to Spencer, which needs to be assembled — that’s where the tool kit comes into play. Plan on spending a couple of hours doing this — make it a family project is one way to look at this when it’s a young person who is taking the reins — creating an area where the components and tools can be placed and where using the soldering iron can be done safely. Even though the soldering iron connects via USB — it’s still a cable and so avoiding the chance of a pet or incorrect person hitting a cable or touching something they shouldn’t must be taken into consideration. You have this work area up and running and one that can be closed off if needed. Most useful will be to follow the detailed build guide, which includes a lot of pictures so as to make the process many times more simple than otherwise. But patience will always be helpful so no rushing to make this put together fast. Slow and steady as they say.

Now for those who say “I’ve a smartphone that can do all this” or my smart BT speaker can do a voice assistant faster and better — we say that what Spencer does is just the icingon the cake, as it were. It’s real value is in how it brings a sense of accomplishment and wonder into the world to a young person and shows them what they are capable of doing for themself.

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Spencer Needs Your Input

So what’s there to assemble? A CPU, circuit board, memory, speaker Wi-Fi components, electronics, all the stuff that makes a computer, because that’s what you’re putting together — only while all the parts are preassemble, a lot requires more than just clicking things together like they were Legos. You’re screwing in components and placing electronics on a numbered board and soldering them in.

Now when Spencer is fully assembled, connecting it to a PC will let it download what it needs to function and start it up — allowing for a lot more than just the physical aspects of it lighting up and its voice module sounding off when you press its big red button. And by connecting Spencer to a PC, it becomes possible to do “coding” — a bit simplified but it really makes coding new function’s possible (triggering Spencer when you say specific sentences or words). Besides, it can't all be about it telling jokes and stories when you ask it and playing sounds. Even if it does have a somewhat silly personality.

The age start for doing this is 11 years and up — but really any age can enjoy putting this together and learning about how to code and create a physical product (almost) from scratch. You want to have fun and learn a bit about coding and put an electronic device together with your own hands? Then CircuitMess is where it’s at. And while not now, there’ll be a Batman-themed product coming from them shortly that we’ll be taking a look at. So for now here’s where to go to see a lot —{{placement}}&utm_content=review


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