The Raspberry Pi is one way to get to grips with programming and interfacing, but the various members of the Arduino family of micro-controllers are also great fun to play with, and there’s a huge range of projects you can build with them.
When it comes to small and low cost, it’s probably hard to beat the Adafruit Trinket. Costing just £8 and not even as big as a thumb, it still manages to squeeze in 8KB of Flash memory and five IO pins, together with an on-board power regulator. Program it through its mini USB port – and power it that way too. Or by battery if you prefer.
With support for I2C sensors, Trinket is perfect for monitoring projects. You can program it using the cross-platform Arduino IDE, and it comes in versions for both 3V and 5V logic – just pick the right one for your project – or buy a six-pack.
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, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, 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.