In this project we’re upcycling a classic construction kit from 1969.
Astrolite by Hasbro, introduced in 1969, was a building toy set made of clear tubes that snap fit together, allowing one to build cities or robots of light!
In this project we’re adding NeoPixels and motorizing the color wheel.
The Adafruit CRICKIT is great for this project, it can drive NeoPixels, servos and lots of other sensors and components for building robots.
The board and components fit inside the light box and secured with 3d printed parts.
All of the components stack on top of each other, making this an easy mod!
The 3d files are free to download and modify in any CAD package!
Program the Crickit and Circuit Playground Express with Microsoft Makecode or Circuit Python. Use the onboard sensors to trigger drivers, motors, change light animations and sounds.
Add our polycarbonate case to a couple of Circuit Playground Expresses to add even more interactive lights! We 3d printed ¼ tripod attachments to fit with the tubes!
There's resources in these guides that go beyond what's covered in this tutorial. MakeCode guide is all about setting up your Circuit Playground Express board. TheCircuit Playground Express introduction guide walks you through all of the pinouts, sensors and everything you need to know.
You can find the list of all parts used to make this project linked below!
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Continuous Rotation Servo
(4) M3x15mm secures Crickit to the 3D Printed Base
CPX Servo Mount screws
Servo Horn Standoffs
Take a moment to review the components in the circuit diagram. This illustration is meant for referencing wired connections - The length of wire, position and size of components are not exact.
The servo plugs into the headers with the ground positioned close to the center of the board.
Side Light NeoPixel Strip:
The Side Light NeoPixel strip connects to the NeoPixel terminal on the Crickit. Din on the NeoPixel strip connects to the arrow icon on the terminal on the Crickit on the Crickit. GND connects to GND and 5V to 5V.
The 4xAA battery case connects to the Power input on the Crickit. We added an on and off push button in between the battery pack and the barrel. We used a JST 2-pin Extension Cable with On/Off Switch - JST PH2 but any on / off switch will work.
Side Light Neopixel Strip Direction
Double check that the cables are connected at the start on the strip!
MakeCode for CRICKIT and Circuit Playground Express
MakeCode is this programming editor that runs in the Google Chrome web browser. It’s has an intuitive interface that’s both block based and text editor.
It works with Adafruit's CRICKIT and Circuit Playground Express so you can make interactive projects with the on-board sensors and components. You can drag & drop blocks to make interactive programs using lights and sounds without having to solder or learning a new syntax.
You can alternatively upload code directly to the Circuit Playground Express with WebUSB, see the steps to do so here.
Setup Circuit Playground Express for MakeCode
To get started, we'll need to head over to the Adafruit MakeCode website and follow the steps below.
- Plug in your Circuit Playground Express with a USB Cable
- Press the RESET button. Green light means you're ready to MakeCode
- Download the UF2 file and drop it onto CPLAYBOOT.
Install CRICKIT Extension for MakeCode
On the MakeCode.Adafruit.Com site, click on New Project. In the list of blocks, select ADVANCED and then EXTENSIONS. Click on the Crickit block that shows up and install Crickit support! You will now have a new CRICKIT bin of blocks you can use!
Continue on to learn how to use these blocks. Read the full guide here for more info.
Upload and Test Code
Once you have your CPX setup with the MakeCode UF2, try testing it out by uploading the code to the board. Click the link below to open up the program in MakeCode. Click on the pink edit icon near the top of the title to open the code. This will create a project in MakeCode and allow you to edit, modify and upload the code to the board.
With WebUSB, the code edit will upload directly to the Circuit Playground Express without the need to drag and drop file onto it!
Follow the instruction to set up your board and you'll be able to quickly send code to Circuit Playground Express!
What If I Don't Have A 3D Printer?
Not to worry! You can use a 3D printing service such as a local 3D printer operator 3D print and ship you parts to you. This is a great way to get your parts 3D printed by local makers. You could also try checking out your local Library or search for a Maker Space.
The design is modeled in Autodesk Fusion 360 and available to edit. You can adjust the pieces to print by moving or adding construction planes to cut up the parts . You can modify the sketches or adjust features in the parametric timeline.
Depending on your 3D printer, you may need to adjust the slice settings. We printed all of the parts on a Prusa i3 MK2s. These parts were sliced with Ultimaker Cura.
- Nozzle: 0.4mm
- Extrusion Width: 0.4mm
- Layer Height: 0.15mm
- Infill: 20%
- Nozzle Temperature: 210c
- Heated Glass Bed: 60c
- Print Speed: 60mm/s
Design Source Files
The enclosure assembly was designed in Fusion 360. This can be downloaded in different formats like STEP, SAT and more. Electronic components like the board, displays, connectors and more can be downloaded from our Fusion 360 CAD parts github repo.