#AdafruitLearningSystem Weekly Update: Tools Edition

This week on the Adafruit Learning System, we published a couple new guides. Learn how to build a large mechanical keyswitch data entry device, and learn about the new Adafruit I2C thermocouple amplifier.

Favorite New Guide

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This weeks favorite new guide shows you how to build a custom keypad with Ortho NeoKey Snap-Apart PCB and CircuitPython

Compact keyboards are super cool — I use a TKL — but sometimes you just miss having a big, old number pad for data entry and calculations. The Numpad 4000 is just that! Plus, you can move it off to either side of your main keyboard for ideal ergonomics.

You can build the custom mechanical Number Pad of your Dreams with the Ortho NeoKey Snap-Apart PCB, a Feather RP2040, and CircuitPython. Customize the physical layout on this diode-matrixed, NeoPixel-lit wonder board!

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.

Keeping with the theme of tools, Adafruit sells some really great multimeters, and this episode from Collin’s Lab shows you how to use your fancy new multimeter.

The multimeter is your greatest ally when working with electronics. Learn how to measure voltage, resistance, current, & continuity – as well as which meter works best for specific tasks.

Category Spotlight: Tools

The tools category is a great way to learn about the various important tools that might be useful to makers. From soldering irons , to calipers, to heat set insert rigs….there is a wide range of tools featured. Here are some of my favorite tool guides:

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In this project we’re building a rig for heat set inserts. When working with 3D printed parts, a press can help you install inserts. This holds a soldering iron vertically and allows you to press down, perfectly straight. The tip of the iron heats up the brass and softens the plastic. Pressing down pushes the insert into the part and once it cools down, it’s locked in place. This could be handy for folks doing a small production run or if you’re looking for a tool to make this easier.
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This is a solder fume extractor with a couple of twists. Besides an internal rechargeable Lithium Polymer (Li-Poly) battery for portability, this extractor incorporates a low-power motion detector and a USB A accessory connector. When you reach for your soldering iron, the motion detector turns on the extractor’s fan for a predefined period then turns it off to preserve battery power. An LED reading lamp can be connected to the accessory port to eliminate shadows in the work area. This one is also ambidextrous; flip it end-for-end to point the motion detector at the soldering iron holder to the right or to the left of your work area.
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One of our oldest guides, learn all about Calipers with Ladyada! A great way to learn how digital calipers can offer such precision.


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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CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org


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