#AdafruitLearningSystem Weekly Update: Calculator Edition

This week on the Adafruit Learning System, we published a few new fun guides, and updated a couple others. Learn how to program the RP2040 in Arduino, build a Modal MIDI Keyboard, build  a desk calculator with CircuitPython, and learn all about MACROPAD Hotkeys!



Last week’s extra credit keypad was a DIY desktop calculator, this week Jeff Epler published a major upgrade to that version. Meet the Clackulator.

Consider the humble calculator. Now just an app that you always have with you on your telephone, an electronic calculator used to be a technological marvel.

In this project, you’ll build your own calculator with an Adafruit Feather RP2040, 128×64 OLED display, and 20 keys. Optional 3D printed parts like an enclosure and even the keycaps themselves make for a sharp presentation. Make it your own by customizing the code, or use the hardware for your own MacroPad-inspired project.

If you are looking for an easier calculator project, be sure to check out the PyPortal calculator by MakerMelissa.

Favorite New Guide

This weeks favorite new guide is by John Park. Learn how to create your own Modal MIDI Keyboard.

Play great sounding melodies and chords on a synthesizer without lots of piano lessons by sticking with notes that sound good together! Modes, such as Major/Ionian, Minor/Aeolian, Dorian, and Mixolydian, to name a few, are sets of relative note intervals designed for this purpose, and now you can build your own keyboard that will play within whichever key and mode you choose — you can’t hit a wrong note!

Your modal keyboard sends notes over USB MIDI to any software synthesizer, or hardware synth with USB MIDI Host capabilities. Pick your key and mode on startup and then start your jam!

ALS Deep Cut

With so many guides on the Adafruit Learning System, some amazing guides of years past get buried and lost. ALS Deep Cuts brings these guides back up to the surface. This week’s guide is from back in 2014.

Speaking of MIDI, learn how to make a Flora MIDI Drum Glove!

Play your favorite synths by finger drumming! Stitch up four piezos into a glove and use FLORA to transmit signals to your favorite music-making software.

Hotkey Happiness


I just can’t get enough of the new Adafruit MacroPad, and am excited to see what projects people make with it. Right out of the gate, Phillip Burgess shows you MacroPad owners how to set up application hotkeys.

When you have a key-festooned unit called a MACROPAD, it’s only natural that one of the first things to try would be application hotkeys or macros. Anything less would be like a dinosaur tour without any dinosaurs!

Press one of MACROPAD’s 12 keys to send a shortcut, function key or whole sequence of keystrokes to a connected computer. The OLED display provides a map, while LEDs under each key offer color-coded groups or themes. Turn the dial to select among different application sets.

This is one of those projects that you can simply find everyday use for as-is, or peer inside the code to see how CircuitPython makes this all pretty simple. Additionally, hotkey configuration files for different desktop applications are easily created, modified and shared.

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.

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