My friend Dr. X. Treme of Orgasmatronics, Inc., sent me a Master Beta Kit to review in advance of their crowdfunding campaign. The TLDR: I’m extremely excited about this kit! Finally, I have something sex-positive I can recommend for absolute beginners who want to start working with electronics and the Arduino platform.
The good: The kit is very well-documented and easy to use, especially for novices. Have you ever wanted to learn a little bit about electronics? Maybe you’ve heard about the Arduino, but don’t know where to begin? The Master Beta Kit helps you learn how to get started with Arduino programming with a built-in, cool project: controlling a bullet vibe. This isn’t “a vibrator controller that happens to be built on Arduino,” it’s “an Arduino teaching tool that happens to control a vibrator.”
I found the hardware to be easy to use (no tools needed!) and the documentation to be written in a clear, step-by-step format. While I’ve certainly done my share of sex toy making, I had never actually used a microcontroller to drive a vibrator until using the Master Beta Kit. Following the kit’s instructions, in less than ten minutes after plugging everything in, my bullet was happily buzzing away on my desk.
Plus, the Master Beta Kit is open hardware and open source under a Creative Commons license. All of the source code and hardware design will be available for anyone to adapt and build upon. Yay!
The less-good: This was the first time I’d installed the Arduino programming software on Windows, and it was a little tricky to upload code to the microcontroller. This isn’t Dr. X.’s fault, but if you have problems, you should definitely check out this Arduino Guide Troubleshooting page.
If you program something fun with the kit and you actually want to take it to bed with you, things get a little awkward. The battery pack that comes with the kit only powers the bullet, not the microcontroller itself, so you’ll need to buy a separate battery holder (either 9V or 4 AA) to connect to the microcontroller. And, of course, you’ll want to be careful about getting lube all over your nice electronics. ;)
I want to see a larger, more diverse community of folks who make and hack sex toys, and the Master Beta Kit will help us get there. This kit empowers complete beginners by presenting a compelling project along with all of the hardware, software, and instructions needed to foster success.
If you’d like to snag one of these kits for yourself or a partner, go check out the crowdfunding campaign before May 10, 2015!