First we'll wire up the Circuit Playground, NeoPIxels and power switch. Then we'll create the crystal gem and the setting for it, and then we'll assemble the staff.

My staff is around 6 feet long so it's a bit unwieldy, and so I found it easiest to use JST connectors between the top assembly and the pixels inside the staff so I can work on each piece separately.

Wire the Circuit Playground Express

Get out your 2-pin and 3-pin connectors. The 2-pin will connect to the LED on the power switch and the 3-pin will connect to the NeoPixels.

Solder the female side of the 3-pin connector to VBAT, A1, and GND on the Circuit Playground. (You might be tempted to use A0 but don't! That's the speaker pin and you'll get weird noises if you use that one.) 

Solder the female 2-pin connector to 3.3V and GND on the other side.

Wire the Power Switch

Unscrew the hex nut and remove it. Line up the switch so the five pins swoop along the bottom of the switch (like a smile!). The one on the left is what we'll call pin 1. We'll be soldering to pins 1, 2, 4 and 5 and leaving pin 3 alone.

Cut your JST extension cable's red wire ONLY, right about in the middle of the cable. Slip on some heat shrink. Solder one cut side to pin 2 and one to pin 4. It doesn't matter which side goes to which pin, they're interchangeable in this case.

Solder a white wire to pin 1 and a black wire to pin 5. Cover all the pins with heat shrink so the wires don't touch each other and accidentally short your circuit. These pins will power the switch's onboard LED so it glows when the power is turned on.

Plug the connector into your Circuit Playground for a minute and make double-sure of which wire is which. Solder the black wire from the switch to the connector wire that goes to G on the Circuit Playground, and the white wire to the side that goes to 3.3V.

Wire the NeoPixel Strip

Find the IN end of your NeoPixel strip. If needed, cut the 2-pin connector off the strip and trim the extra black wire.

Let's use the same trick of plugging the male side of our 3-pin JST  connector in to the Circuit Playground before we solder, so we can be 100% sure of which wire connects to which pad. Splice the 3-pin connector to your NeoPixel strip so the black wire connects to G, the white wire connects to IN, and the red wire connects to VBAT

Trim your NeoPixel strip to the right length. Mine has 90 pixels (1.5 meters). I made the strip a few inches shorter than the full length of my staff, since I want a little room near the top for the battery inside the tube. 

Seal the bottom end of your NeoPixel strip where you trimmed it using hot glue. Then, slide the whole strip inside your smaller 1/2" acrylic tube -- it should fit comfortably, and the tube will keep the NeoPixel strip perfectly straight and centered in the middle of your staff.

This guide was first published on Sep 15, 2019. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Electronics Assembly) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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