Perhaps you're new to electronics and programming. Maybe you're a pro, but you've never worked with CircuitPython. Working with CircuitPython is super simple, but requires that you have a CircuitPython compatible microcontroller. Some boards are better than others for getting started than others. So which one do you choose?

This page contains all of the beginner CircuitPython compatible boards and a bit about the features of each one. You're ready to get started, now to figure out what features will work best for you!

Circuit Playground Express

A Black woman's manicured hand holds a round microcontroller with lit up LEDs.
Circuit Playground Express is the next step towards a perfect introduction to electronics and programming. We've taken the original Circuit Playground Classic and...

The Adafruit Circuit Playground Express, running the ATSAMD21 microcontroller, is the perfect board for beginners to electronics and programming. It has tons built in: ten RGB NeoPixel LEDs, an accelerometer, temperature, light and sound sensors, mini speaker, two buttons, a slide switch, IR transmitter and receiver, little red LED, and eight alligator-clip friendly GPIO pads, seven of which can act as touch pads.

This is an excellent beginner choice that does not require any soldering.

Circuit Playground Bluefruit

shot of a Black woman's neon-green manicured hand holding up a Circuit Playground Bluefruit glowing rainbow LEDs.
Circuit Playground Bluefruit is our third board in the Circuit Playground series, another step towards a perfect introduction to electronics and programming. We've...

The Adafruit Circuit Playground Bluefruit, running the Bluetooth LE capabile nRF52840, is an all-in-one board designed to get you started with programming an electronics. It's loaded with all kinds of LEDs, sensors and inputs, including an accelerometer, light, temperature, and sound sensors, touch pads, buttons, switch, NeoPixel LEDs, speaker, and more. Additional capabilities can be added via the alligator clip friendly pads.

This is an excellent beginner choice that does not require any soldering.

Circuit Playground Express or Bluefruit?

There are two great Circuit Playground options for using CircuitPython. So which one is better for you? You'll be fine with either, but here a few key differences that may drive you one way or the other.

  • The Circuit Playground Express has more support in MakeCode / and the SAMD21 is a more universal processor. Theres a lot more example codes for it. However, it's an older chip so not as powerful and of course, does not have Bluetooth LE wireless
  • The Circuit Playground Bluefruit does not have an IR transceiver (for remote control projects) because it has BLE instead. The processor is more powerful, has tons more memory which comes in handy with CircuitPython projects as they grow.  However, its a newer chip, and does not have full MakeCode support, CS Discoveries support, or as many projects.
    It also has Bluetooth LE connectivity so it can wirelessly connect to computers, phones, tablets and other devices.
The original ATmega 32u4 based Circuit Playground (Renamed the Circuit Playground Classic) is NOT CircuitPython compatible. Use the Express or Bluefruit versions.

QT Py RP2040

Easily interface to STEMMA QT / Qwiic sensors and breakouts.

Video of hand holding a QT Py PCB in their hand. An LED glows rainbow colors.
What a cutie pie! Or is it... a QT Py? This diminutive dev board comes with one of our new favorite chip, the RP2040. It's been made famous in the new

The Adafruit QT Py uses an RP2040 microcontroller, has 11 GPIO pins, a built in RGB NeoPixel LED, and a USB Type C connector, in the same size, form factor and pinout as the Seeed Xiao. There is 8MB of flash for CircuitPython and file storage. The built in STEMMA QT connector makes it super simple to use any of the available STEMMA QT sensors and breakouts with no soldering required.

This is a good choice if you want an easy way to interface to STEMMA QT / Qwiic connected sensors without a lot of expense

Feather M4 Express

Angled shot of a Adafruit Feather M4 Express.
It's what you've been waiting for, the Feather M4 Express featuring ATSAMD51. This Feather is fast like a swift, smart like an owl, strong like a ox-bird (it's half ox,...

The Adafruit Feather M4 Express is running the ATSAMD51 microcontroller. With some light soldering, this board enables you to use the many FeatherWings available, which provides a ton of possibilities without a lot of wiring necessary. It has 21 GPIO pins, a little red LED and an RGB NeoPixel LED. You can power it with and charge a lipoly battery.

A good choice if you want access to Feather ecosystem and its many FeatherWing add on boards. The board is very powerful and runs CircuitPython very nicely

Metro M4

Angled shot of a Adafruit Metro M4 feat. Microchip ATSAMD51.
Are you ready? Really ready? Cause here comes the fastest, most powerful Metro ever. The Adafruit Metro M4 featuring the Microchip ATSAMD51. This...

The Adafruit Metro M4, featuring the ATSAMD51 microcontroller, is a development board in the Metro form factor. It boasts 25 GPIO pins, along with four indicator LEDs and an RGB NeoPixel LED. It can be powered via USB using the micro USB connector, or through the DC jack. The great thing about this board is that it's compatible with Arduino Shields, meaning there are a ton of possibilities available without a lot of wiring necessary.

This board can also be used with the examples from the Metro Experimenter's Guide.

A good choice if you want something in the classic Arduino UNO form factor for use with the many available Arduino shields. The board is very powerful and runs CircuitPython very nicely

Itsy Bitsy M4 Starter Kit

A more hands on approach with some light soldering required.

A collection of electronic parts included in kit.
You've heard about CircuitPython and maybe you want to get started fast with a breadboard-friendly microcontroller board! We recommend the ItsyBitsy M4 - a super fast chip...

This kit does require some soldering to attach the header pins to the Itsy Bitsy M4. It also requires building up each circuit to use the various components. However, this does allow you to gain more experience by being more hands on with the hardware.

This a good choice if you are comfortable soldering and building circuits and want a more hands on experience. The board is very powerful and runs CircuitPython very nicely

This guide was first published on Nov 18, 2020. It was last updated on Nov 23, 2020.

This page (Beginner Boards) was last updated on Nov 23, 2020.

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