I first found Adafruit Industries after I met Limor Fried at Analog Heaven New England a few years back (really she showed off a homemade production synth to a bunch of synth nerds in a high school music room). I think she had just finished the first run of her XoX BoX kits, a Roland TB-303 clone (which doesn’t do it justice, because it’s so much more than the 303). So, thinking that a DIY synth box was awesome, I checked out her website, which has grown considerably in the past few years. The first thing I got was a simple mini Persistence of Vision (POV) LED kit. Here’s the newer version of what I got years ago, the MiniPOV 3 kit.
The documentation is the best I’ve seen. Back then, for a noob like me, the instructions covered everything from part placement, to how to cut leads off resistors, to how to place ICs, to what soldering iron to get. The website had fantastic close-up pictures and the text explained exactly what to do. Since that first kit, I’ve made a bunch of Adafruit’s stuff and they continue to help explain all aspects of their products, which are educational and awesome in their own right. They have a great selection of really hip and culture-subverting kits designed in house. There’s a great selection of arduino shields and fun things like the TV-B-Gone.
If you’re just beginning to get into electronics, go to Adafruit first. I outfitted my intro electronics class with Ladyada’s Electronics Toolkits.
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.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell with Google Hangouts On-Air is every Wednesday at 7:30pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.
Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!
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