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  • Writer's pictureJonah White

A monthly subscription for hackers: Hacker Boxes

If one is a college student like me, you’re looking for cheap ways of finding retro or current tech at a reasonable price that will not break the bank. Today we’re looking at a HackerBox subscription I have used to work on my computer hardware skills. This is not a sponsored post. I am just talking about something that I want everyone to know about.

Working like a traditional magazine subscription, the latest edition is a surprise. Each hackerbox’s content is unknown to subscribers but curated by individuals like me to provide great projects for hackers, hobbyists, electronic engineers, and cyber security professionals.

But the beauty of Hacker boxes versus a magazine is the ability to purchase previous editions or boxes published months ago. Each box follows a theme that helps people learn about different technology fields. Such as:

HackerBox #0044 PCB 123 – Explore PCB Design and Layout, AVR Device Programming, Serial RGB LED Applications, and Pro ESP32 WiFi OLED Development

HackerBox #0061 Props – Use Parallax Propeller 8-Core MicroController. Learn game development, the propeller spin programming language, keyboard/mouse interface, game controllers, etc.

HackerBox ##0048 SIMSAT – Teaches about GSM mobile/cellular communications for IoT, integrated GPS satellite positioning, multi-band antennas, coaxial RF, and power supply considerations for embedded wireless communication systems.

Behind the Scenes

HackerBoxes is a product of CrateCrew based out in Florida. Started by former university faculty members, HackerBoxes was born out of appreciation for using hands-on education and enrichment, helping create solutions for people who desire to be more hands-on, regardless of whether or not one is a student or a hobbyist.

The Required Tools

So each HackerBox varies in necessary tools to finish the monthly projects released. But HackerBoxes has three “HackerBox Workshops” One can choose from to get started, Basic Workshop, Soldering Workshop, and Core Workshop. When I first started, I went with a Soldering workshop. The core tool I recommend that you will require most of the time doing these boxes is a soldering iron. The Soldering Workshop comes with a decent soldering iron and some Rosin Flux core with a small stand for your iron to rest on when expecting your work. Another item could be a soldering mat used for soldering, but ones that may be a little more expensive can provide compartments for active projects you might be working on. I should mention this just for safety reasons, but always wear eye protection when working with soldering!

Byte sized pieces

HackerBoxes even offer a smaller version for younger audiences. Called “Byte Size” Hackerboxes, these are smaller projects, possibly your kid or someone wanting to try the subscription with only paying a smaller price tag.

I need help, where do I go?

Each HackerBox is accompanied online with an Instructables guide on how to complete the project, “The goals is progress, not perfection. You’d better plan on messing some things up. We all do it. The more components that you burn up, short out, or otherwise mutilate, the more you are learning.” (HackerBoxes, 2023) HackerBoxes recommends looking at past hacker boxes to see if this is right for you. Even though it will probably be a bit more expensive, it's best to try before subscribing.

My experience with HackerBoxes...

I grew up with parents that taught me to save, buy cheap when I can, or possibly even make or create the desired product. This is why I once tried to look for all the items a standard hacker box would compose. Still, it is way cheaper to subscribe or buy from Hacker Boxes because of the cost of shipping and coordination of going from site to site, creating accounts, and ordering all the components yourself to build the same project with the Instructables. But in the end, I found it easier just to hit subscribe, and all the components arrive at my doorstep simultaneously.

I hope you enjoy this shoutout to HackerBoxes. I love the brand and hope to complete many projects from the creators of the boxes. Until then, stay tuned for “Out of Raspberry Pis? How about a Potato and other Pi alternatives….”



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