Add animated programmable lights to your costume or project. This first-timer guide will walk you through the basics and get you up and running in minutes.

You don't need any fancy soldering equipment or programming knowledge -- Adafruit's Circuit Playground Express makes it really simple, so you can spend your time on making your project amazing and unique.

We'll be using NeoPixels in this guide. NeoPixel is a fancy name for lights you can program.

What You Need

  • A Circuit Playground Express
  • A battery (unless your project can plug in via USB)
  • Some NeoPixel lights
  • A bolt-on kit for attaching the lights
  • Wire strippers
  • A USB cable for programming (some cables are charge-only, you'll need a good one that can pass data)

Adafruit's Circuit Playground Base Kit already comes with a battery holder and batteries, plus a USB cable for programming, so it's perfect for first-timers. 

Rectangular case for Circuit Playground Express - Base Kit.
It's the Circuit Playground Express Base Kit! It provides the few things you'll need to get started with the new
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As for the lights: there are so many different kinds to choose from, so it's really up to you! I'll go into more detail later on, but here's a great one to start with.

Adafruit NeoPixel LED 1 meter Strip with Alligator Clips wired to Circuit Playground, lighting up rainbow
Adding glowy color to your projects has never been easier: no more soldering or stripping wires, clip 'em on and glow! This Adafruit NeoPixel LED Strip with Alligator...
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If you get parts separate from the Base Kit, be sure to get a good quality data+power USB cable. 75% of issues with a microcontroller are a poor or incorrect USB connection.

USB cable - USB A to Micro-B - 3 foot long
This here is your standard A to micro-B USB cable, for USB 1.1 or 2.0. Perfect for connecting a PC to your Metro, Feather, Raspberry Pi or other dev-board or...
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Adafruit's bolt-on kit is an easy way to securely attach the lights to the Circuit Playground. If you have a soldering iron, you can always solder them instead -- but the bolt-on kit works just as well, and at a bargain price.

Close up angled shot of a LED strip attached and powered by a circuit playground.
You have a Circuit Playground Express, and want to connect some wires to it for adding LEDs or sensors or speakers? You can use our...
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You'll also need some wire strippers. These will both cut and strip wires of varying sizes. You can't do electronics without wire strippers, and it's amazing how often they come in handy.

Red and black multi-size wire stripplers, closed
These are the finest wire strippers we have used, and if you have to do a lot of wiring, you will agree! They have soft rounded grips - very comfortable to use, and precision ground...
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This guide was first published on Apr 08, 2020. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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

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