Don't feel like you have to understand this part fully! Skim it for now, and consider it a resource for you when you want to take a deeper dive into understanding the hardware!

The USB Jack is next up in our tour

USB Jack

As we talked about in the beginning, this is how you connect your Arduino to your computer. You can use any computer with a USB port. You will need a cable to connect! This cable is usually not included.

Make sure you have a Micro USB cable

A HUUUUUUGE number of people have problems because they pick a 'charge only' USB cable rather than a "Data/Sync" cable. Make 100% sure you have a good quality syncing cable. Srsly, I can't even express how many times students have nearly given up due to a flakey USB cable!

I can't stress it enough. Make sure you have a good USB cable. Naughty USB cables will really ruin your day, like a stone in your shoe. Just thow out bad cables and replace with a good one - they are designed to be disposable!

USB Interface Chip??

If you're coming from any background with an Arduino you're used to having a secondary chip on the circuit board that acts as the USB to Serial Interface Translator chip. Circuit Playground does not have one of these! That's because the ATmega32u4 processor does the USB for you natively without the need for a second chip. There's a few tradeoffs, in particular you may need to reset the chip if the USB crashes but you'll learn how to do that

Powering over USB

For permanent installation, you can power your Circuit Playground using a USB wall adapter - these come with almost every phone and gadget these days. They have a nice clean 5V output. Some have an output up to 5.5V but thats OK. Basically, if it has a USB connection it will power your 'play just fine!

You can sometimes power an Circuit Playground project off of a portable USB power pack but these packs are often designed to charge a phone and the 'Play uses so little power that it will cause the pack to think that it is "done charging" and auto-shutoff

So, try it out but your mileage may vary.

This guide was first published on Jul 19, 2016. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (USB Connection) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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