Nobody likes a meeting that drags on forever. But how to keep people on topic and the meeting moving along? Circuit Playground to the rescue!

This simple device allows you to increase the efficiency of meetings by putting a countdown timer in the hands of the speaker. 

This talking stick gives warnings of increasing urgency as the speaker's time runs down, and an alarm goes off when they've run over their allotted speaking time.

A 60 second countdown starts when user presses the A button. At 30 seconds it beeps and the onboard NeoPixels illuminate yellow. At 15 seconds it turns orange and beeps again, and at 5 seconds beeps again and goes red. The countdown can be paused by flipping slide switch to the left, and can be restarted by flipping switch back to the right and pressing the A button again. When the countdown hits 0 it beeps and flashes continually until it's tossed to the next speaker (basically shaken), at which point the countdown automatically restarts. 

This project is an extension of the "talking stick" concept, except this talking stick provides active feedback, limiting the amount of time the holder has to make their point and ensuring everyone equal opportunity to speak (other examples of this concept also exist elsewhere on the internet). 

Required Electronics

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...
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...


You may want to enclose your Circuit Playground Express somehow and make it easy to toss around. These two enclosures are both good options. The enclosure has a screw mount which works with the adapter for making a handle.

Top down view of a clear acrylic Adafruit Circuit Playground Express or Bluefruit Enclosure.
We've got nice cases for many of our beloved boards, but the Circuit Playground Express and
1/4 to 1/4 Screw Adapter with thumb-ring
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" - Leonardo da VinciThis 1/4" screw to...
6cm Diameter DIY Ornament Kit with Circuit board inside
Have you put up with mainstream, uninspiring, low-tech tree ornaments for too long? This season why not deck the halls with codes of holly?This DIY Ornament...


In addition to the Circuit Playground Express, you will need some way to power it so you can use it without being attached to a computer. Choose an option that works best for you.

Front angled shot of 3 x AAA battery holder with on-off switch and 2-pin JST PH connector.
This battery holder connects 3 AAA batteries together in series for powering all kinds of projects. We spec'd these out because the box is slim, and 3 AAA's add up to about...
Angled shot of 3 PKcell AAA batteries.
Battery power for your portable project! These batteries are good quality at a good price, and work fantastic with any of the kits or projects in the shop that use AAA's. This is a...
Slim Lithium Ion Polymer Battery 3.7v 400mAh with JST 2-PH connector and short cable
Lithium-ion polymer (also known as 'lipo' or 'lipoly') batteries are thin, light, and powerful. The output ranges from 4.2V when completely charged to 3.7V. This...

If you choose to use a LiPo battery, be sure you have a way to charge it.


For this project you may also want to have:

This guide was first published on Jan 05, 2019. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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

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