When we reviewed Piper’s STEM-based computer kit, we came away incredibly impressed with the lessons it taught but saddened by the expensive $300 asking price. Now, Piper has a maker club with a reasonable price ($20 a month). And when you subscribe, you get a free Raspberry Pi Pico. Better yet, starting March 14, the company will unveil a free site to teach coding on the Pico.
The new site, dubbed Piper Make, claims to be the first drag-and-drop coding platform for the Raspberry Pi Pico. If you have a Pico already, you can access the site to help your children learn coding concepts that can blink LEDs, check temperature sensors, and more.
To take advantage, you’ll need the Raspberry Pi Pico, a breadboard, and the appropriate wires, LEDs, and sensors. Piper already sells a sensor kit add-on, and in our testing, it works very well. Originally designed as an add-on for the Piper computer kit, it should work just fine with the Raspberry Pi Pico.
While going this route drastically reduces the price to get into Piper’s excellent coding lessons, it does come with a few downsides. Your child won’t “build a computer” for one. The draw (and expense) of the Piper Computer Kit is putting together a laptop-like computer shell, complete with a monitor. You’ll also need to provide a computer to connect to the Pico. You can use a Windows, macOS, or Chrome OS device.
You access Piper Make from the computer, and interface it with the Pico. While it’s a shame it’s not an all-in-one system anymore; it’s a worthwhile move when it brings down the price from $300 to as low as $20. Depending on the options you choose.
Alongside the Piper Make site and added support for the Raspberry Pi Pico, Piper recently introduced a monthly Piper Make club. If you don’t already have a Raspberry Pi Pico, that’s the cheapest to get started. The club is $20 a month, or $200 a year, and the first box comes with a starter kit which includes a Pico, 830-point breadboard, LEDs, resistors, switches, and wires. If you stay subscribed, you’ll get more hardware, including sensors and switches, along with a new tutorial sent each month.
If you’d rather pay once and be done, you can buy the starter kit starting March 14 for a one-time $30 payment or get the starter kit and the sensor kit for $75. You won’t get updated monthly tutorials, but you can still access Piper Make for free.
We still like the Piper Computer Kit, and you can still buy it for $300. But if you’re looking for an affordable STEM kit that touches on software and hardware projects, check out the Piper Maker Monthly Club. The Piper Make site officially opens on March 14 (Pi day).