Tom’s Hardware just reviewed the Adafruit MacroPad USB keyboard. Their verdict: The best codable keypad on the market, Adafruit’s MacroPad RP2040 is stuffed with features you won’t find elsewhere.
There’s a small, but interesting cottage industry in Raspberry Pi-powered macro keypads you can use to add some custom functions to your PC. A few years ago, Pimoroni launched its Keybow, which relies on a Raspberry Pi Zero but you need to wait for it to boot every time you plug it in and you have to program it in Lua. Then, this year, the Pimoroni came out with Pimoroni Keybow RP2040 and the Pico RGB Keypad base, which use the Raspberry RP2040 CPU and work with a variety of programming languages, including CircuitPython. And, given that the Raspberry Pico and other RP2040 boards can double as USB HID devices, there are several tutorials that explain how to build custom keypads using them.
However, Adafruit’s MacroPad RP2040 stands out from the rest and is so useful that even non-makers may want one, just to make their lives easier. Available either as a complete kit for $49 or as a barebones (no switches or keycaps) for $34, the MacroPad RP2040 has a built-in RP2040 chip with a slew of helpful features, including an OLED screen, a rotary encoder dial, 8MB of Flash storage, Neopixel RGB lights under each key and a Stemma QT connector for attaching other electronics such as sensors and additional OLED / LCD screens. Whether you’re a maker who likes DIY projects or just someone who wants a really flexible second keyboard, the Adafruit MacroPad RP2040 is your best choice.
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.