Durability: How Often Do You Replace Broken Bits?

My principal and department chair raised some concerns about how

  1. how often bits might break under usage by 8th or 9th graders
  2. how easy it is to get/order replacements

Any comments or experiences you have had would be helpful.

John Weisenfeld, Science Teacher, Pasco High School, Pasco, WA
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P.S. Need a gravitational wave detector bit (just kidding).

Bits are pretty sturdy, however they ARE little, plastic and soldered together, so they are not indestructible. I have broken a couple of them. The first was a random, which got stepped on. That flattened it, and it did not work afterward. The second was the Synth keyboard, which I pressed too hard on, when snapping it into a mount. The output bitSnap was twisted, but when I straightened it, it worked fine. A drop of superglue mended it better than new.

The other problem I have had is the wires on the split. I have used the split that came with the Synth more than any other bit. A couple weeks ago one of the wires (the orange? signal wire on the bottom branch) just severed at the connection to the JST connector. The top branch still works, so it’s a wire now.

My bits get episodic use. Intensively for several weeks at a time with 4-6 months in between. They are used by adults and 13-14th graders.

Thanks @chris101,

Out of the box my buzzer wouldn’t sound unless you jiggled / pressed on it. I filed a warranty replacement request.

The other day I noticed that the CW-CCW switch on my motor bit wasn’t connecting reliably. It is not the motor and is not the connection so I think I’ve isolated it to the switch.

I’ve also noticed on the 3 way split some looseness with the pressed fitting where plastic meets circuit board. I know these aren’t indestructible, I was just curious what other people’s experiences are.

NOTE: I assume you mean adults and 12-13-14 year olds. I’ve been trying them out on 15-16 year olds and adults as well. I have a plan for doing post-mortem on broken bits with my electronics / circuitry classes, so I can see instructional value even when things fail. For my astronomy / space classes, we will be discussing the importance of reliable and redundant components.

Hi guys! We love the open discussion! I just wanted to remind everyone, that if you feel that your module or accessories aren’t working 100% of the time- you can always get in contact with our support team by emailing support@littleBits.cc.

We love supporting our product and the people that use them, so if you are having difficulty, then please let us know so we can get you what you need.

I have found that the eraser trick always rejuvenates connector problems. And as I mentioned, a drop of superglue (and just a very small drop at that - the tip of a toothpick makes a perfect applicator) right under the connector afixes it solidly to the circuit board.

As for your switch problem, send support (at) littlebits.cc an email as @theodore_littlebits suggested, my guess is they would take care of the problem toot-sweet. I love littleBits support, but I wouldn’t expect them to fix a bit I stepped on. :scream:

ps, grades 13 & 14 kids are 17, 18 & 19. When I say college, most people assume university. It’s a lot like high school, but we have a bigger budget, and the students are more focussed. More than half of my students go into a STEM field at a university when they finish here. Much better prepared than if they had gone directly.

See this forum topic also:

I killed one of my bits under the wheels of my chair and could repair it by removing the broken bitsnaps and replacing them with grey bitsnaps.
The mounting boards are ok if you remove the bits carefully, I damaged one blue power bit by lifting it off the board while still connected, so the bitsnap became wobbely and disconnected. From this I learned to be very careful when removing bits, a lot of them can be lifted off the board with only one bitsnap and the other still fixed. Never do this…

I now use a small screwdriver to pry underneath a bit to lift it sideways…
I also broke one of my long led bits so I added some superglue to the other ones, just on top of the mini plug.

Hi John!!

Been a long time :slight_smile:

I’ve started an after–school program, purely based on LittleBits, to elementary kids (K to 2 for now),
and am using a set of 20 Starter and Extended kits (plus some other bits) that a previous teacher had used for about a year.

I went through all the sets one by one and tested just the following bits, and here’s the number of failed bits (out of 20 each):
– p1 Power x4
– i6 Dimmer x2
– i2 Toggle switch x1
– o6 buzzer x1
– o1 led x2
– o9 bargraph x2

The following bits had zero issues in all the 20 sets:
– i3 button
– i16 pulse

I haven’t tested any of the other bits yet, which I’ll do before introducing them to the class.
If anyone is in urgent need of testing any of these remaining bits plz ping me and I will report back:
wire, branch, motion trigger, sound trigger, light trigger, light sensor, long led, roller switch, o5 DC motor, wires.

I’m feeling hopeful after reading the responses from LittleBits support on this thread. I’ll contact them about these failed bits and see what happens :slight_smile:

That first class was a lot of work, but seeing even KG students start to “Get it!” even though they can’t write properly is an amazing feeling. Looking forward to the next 7 weekly sessions in our 8 week long after school program :slight_smile:

Hi there @baselsalam baselsalam,

I just replied to your email to support! Thanks for sending that in.

We review everything on a case by case basis, so if anyone else has any issue please email support@littleBits.cc.

I should also mention that we have made improvements on durability over the years, but we still recommend usage of littleBits for ages 8 and up for safety reasons and because kids younger than 8 may also be more prone to wanton destruction of littleBits.

Thanks for your help!

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[quote=“theodore_littlebits, post:8, topic:23916, full:true”]
… kids younger than 8 may also be more prone to wanton destruction of littleBits.

:joy: This cracked me up @theodore_littlebits! I’ve seen kids as old as twenty something just push on delicate components (including littleBits) until compression failure broke it. Then they swear, something the younger kids probably don’t.

Next time I observe this behavior, I’m gonna sarcastically ask “What are you, seven?” Then I’ll give 'em the bill. :smiling_imp:

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I have been using little bits with 3 3rd grade and 3 4th grade classes. They did all the challenges and are now in the remix phase of the car building. I am torn with whether I would recommend these or not. On one hand, the kids are getting so into it and most love it. They are very creative! On the other hand, I have spent a lot of time emailing the company about broken bits. They are WAY to FRAGILE. The company is GREAT about replacing broken bits! However, class is really hard when kids come up with a broken power bit, or broken light sensor, allll the time.