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GeekDad – A Visit to Adafruit Industries: the Model for Fab-it-Yourself Gone Pro

Pt 2372
Ken from GeekDad stopped by our shop, here’s his report!

On my way to GeekDad Day at the Wired Holiday Store this weekend, I had the chance to drop in on Limor Fried (aka @ladyada) and Phil Torrone (@ptorrone) at the downtown New York (and I MEAN downtown – three blocks from the WTC) headquarters of Adafruit Industries. A lot of us GeekDads are aware of, and passionate for, the awesome products and kits that Adafruit puts out (both through their own site, and MakerShed) – like the Drawdio, MintyBoost, and TV-B-Gone. But you’d also be blown away by the operation they have set up in a 1,200 sf (or so) loft. It’s really a model for a company that does it all – fab, pack and ship – with their own equipment, and self-designed systems based on a lot of open-source tools.

What’s most impressive (beyond the board-fab machine or the Epilog laser), is their setup for processing orders. Everything is completely streamlined – print out a color invoice (with a bar code), fill the box, scan the bar code – shipping label prints and info sends automatically to UPS – seal it up, and toss it into a bin to go out. Even though they’re a bit swamped for the holidays, it still allows what is basically a two-person (for now) operation maintain a thriving fabrication and fulfillment company, all built on easy-to-recreate tech.


Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

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