Reviewed by David Savage
The FUZE is a programmable computer and electronics workstation which is a great introduction to computer programming and electronics using FUZE BASIC and Raspberry PI (RPi).
When I was asked to review the FUZE (model B) I couldn’t wait to try it out as it looks quite interesting. On opening the box there was an aluminium box with a keyboard and an IO board, a wireless mouse and mouse mat, power supply, Solder-less Breadboard, Electronic component kit (with wires, resisters, LED’s, display panel etc…), 8GB SD Card – pre-loaded with OS and FUZE BASIC, Project cards and a Programmer’s Reference Guide.
The box is very basic but very sturdy consisting of a UK keyboard, with 4 USB ports, an Ethernet port (network), HDMI port and as SD card slot.
Set up was very easy – I didn’t have a HDMI port on my computer monitor (a VGA-HDMI convertor be purchased from the FUZE website for an additional £9.99) so I used my TV screen. I plugged in the receiver for the wireless mouse and then inserted the SD card that is already loaded with the operating system and FUZE BASIC. That’s all that was needed, now I was ready to start playing.
After switching on the machine starts to load the OS and after 30 seconds or so you are greeted with a screen that looks similar to your PC desktop and operates in the same way by using the mouse and clicking on the relevant icons, in this case by double clicking the FUZE BASIC icon. This loads up the BASIC programming for use with the project cards.
Following the project cards takes you through the basic commands and how to write very simple programs starting with just creating a message on the screen and then adding in colours, changing page colours etc… As you get further into the projects you are introduced to more advanced functions like adding user input, variables, strings and conditions which enable you to write a program asking for user input allowing you to talk to the computer and getting different answers back depending on what answers you give.
Once comfortable with the BASIC language and programming functions you can then start building and programming simple electronic boards using the Breadboard (no idea why it is called this). The breadboard has no need for soldering you just need to insert your wires, LED’s etc… into the holes on the board. This does require some care and adult supervision as if the LED’s are not connected with the right resistor they can explode (wearing safety googles is recommended). By placing your wires for power to the IO board and placing LED’s, resistors etc… you can then start programming – so for example getting the LED’s to turn on and off.
Overall I enjoyed using the FUZE box, it is a very simple piece of kit that has great educational value. Just using the project cards that were supplied with the box took a few hours to go through to learn the basic commands and introducing you to writing your own small programs. There are more projects cards that can be downloaded from the FUZE website along with lesson plans if you are a teacher and wanted to introduce this into your lessons.
The FUZE box is an excellent piece of kit that children and adults with love to get them interested in programming and electronics and is definitely something that every school should have. It does provide a safe environment for working with simple electronics.
If is a very sturdy construction, very robust and is protected against static, electronic shorting and physical damage. With the pre-loaded SD card it is ready to start using straight out of the box.
An excellent educational tool that children and adults will love using, a programmable robotic arm can even be purchased.
I love this fantastic little box and it would make a fantastic gift for anyone with an interest in computer or electronics programming!
RRP: £69.99 to £229.99
Suitable age: 7 years +
For more information or to buy visit www.fuze.co.uk.