Circuit Playground is Adafruit's all-in-one Arduino-compatible physical computing board.  This tiny board packs a lot of cool hardware like an Arduino-compatible microcontroller, NeoPixels (addressable RGB LEDs), an accelerometer to detect forces, tilting, and taps, sensors for temperature, light, and sound, buttons & capacitive touch inputs, and more.  All of these components come preassembled and soldered to the board--you're ready to start learning and playing with Circuit Playground immediately!

However one challenging aspect for newcomers to programming and hardware is learning how to use programming languages like C++ & C.  Higher level programming languages like Python are typically easier for beginners to learn, but can you control Circuit Playground with Python or other high level languages?  It turns out that yes you can use high level programming languages with Circuit Playground using a tool called Firmata!

Firmata is a protocol for talking to and controlling Arduino-compatible boards.  By programming Circuit Playground with a special Firmata sketch you can control it from Python and other code running on your computer.  This greatly reduces the barrier to entry when learning programming and hardware.  Just plug Circuit Playground into your computer and start writing Python and other code to control its hardware!

This guide will show you how to program Circuit Playground with a special Firmata sketch that allows it to be controlled from your computer.  You'll also see how to run Python example code that talks to the Circuit Playground Firmata board and controls all of its hardware, like lighting up the NeoPixels, reading the accelerometer, and much more.

Before you get started make sure to follow the Circuit Playground guide to familiarize yourself with the board and setup the Arduino IDE to program it.  Then continue on to learn about loading the Circuit Playground Firmata sketch.

This guide was first published on Apr 27, 2016. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Apr 25, 2016.

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