Toy Review: STEAM HoneyComb Music Kit
I’m always looking for something to do with my son that can build his interest in electronics and science, so when I got a chance to review the STEAM HoneyComb Music Kit I was pretty excited. The HoneyComb Music Kit is a system of magnetic, interlocking modules that make up circuitry that you can customize in all kinds of different ways. It seemed simple enough, and could prove entertaining on a rainy day.
When the package arrived I was quick to award style points for the packaging. The art on the box looked cool, and the info on the back piqued my curiosity. Inside was a laser cut box, with an intricate “key” that holds the lid on – pretty neat!
Inside this box is a cool looking manual with more steampunk-inspired art, and of course the honeycomb components. the kit includes a power module, input module, midi / music module, a speaker, an amplifier module, a laser cut plate to assemble a speaker enclosure, strips for using building blocks with the kit, a 9V battery cable and alligator clips, and a small bag of hardware for the speaker enclosure. All in all it’s a pretty cool kit, and the presentation was impressive.
Flipping through the manual I noticed that while it covers the very basics, it never really goes into details as to how it all works, nor does it list any projects to try. I feel like this was a missed opportunity, especially for an educational toy. Luckily it is simple enough – the components all have electrical contacts on the side that snap into place with magnets and make the whole thing work. Once I had the components in order it was time to play!
Anything conductive can be used to trigger a note, you only need to connect the alligator clips. As soon as there is some resistance on the circuit, you hear a note. Dip switches on the music module can be adjusted to play different sounds such as bells and drums, blips and bleeps. You can even insert a micro SD card and use the kit as an MP3 player. I didn’t get to test that however because almost immediately after attempting to duplicate their cool video wherein they play music with Play-Doh the kit stopped working. The input module lit up as if I was triggering notes, but there was no sound at all. I contacted support and they sent me a video demonstrating the fix, which was essentially “wiggle it a little”, but whatever it worked! So we grabbed some handy aluminum tape and added some pads to the bottom of the box. This worked decently well, though some of the pads would trigger two notes while some wouldn’t trigger at all. Still, it was enough to show off some skills. I’m a rock star now!
We played around some more , then decided to go big. We strung out the aluminium tape across the stairs, hoping to add a little music to our home – but that’s as far as we got. Once again the Honeycomb stopped working, and no amount of wiggling would bring it back, though it did make some rude noises at us.
And so it was that my son lost all interest in the Honeycomb Music Kit, doomed to the box from whence it came…
The STEAM Honeycomb Music Kit seems like a good idea, and I assume others may have a more positive experience – but with a child as bright and active as my own you get one shot, and unfortunately this little gadget came up short.