Adafruit Learning System Weekly Update: Arcade Button Edition

This week on the Adafruit Learning System, we published a few guides this week, and updated a whole bunch more. Build an arcade synth controller, 3d print a Feather TFT STEMMA case, build a Circuit Playground Bluefruit BLE heart rate pendant, and more!

Favorite New Guide

This week my favorite new guide shows you how to make a Circuit Playground Bluefruit BLE heart rate pendant with CircuitPython

Are you going to a dance party soon? Or maybe a speed dating night? Would you like to wear your heart out?

In this project, you can visibly show off your heart rate in the form of a pulsing pendant. A Circuit Playground Bluefruit (CPB) connects to a heart rate monitor to display the heartbeat of the wearer. Using the CircuitPython programming language, the CPB blinks with red NeoPixels to display the heart rate.

The Almighty Arcade Button

After reading John Park’s new Arcade Synth Controller build guide, I did some digging to find some of the more interesting projects on the Adafruit Learning System that utilize the greatest button of all time…the arcade button. Here are my favorites:

Raspberry Pi Pico and LED Arcade Button MIDI Controller

Use Arcade Buttons to play MIDI music

Build your own CircuitPython powered MIDI controller! This “MIDI fighter”-like controller features 16 arcade buttons with built-in LEDs, an OLED screen and joystick. Play drums, synthesizers or anything MIDI related! All of the electronics are housed in a snap-fit 3D printed case.

Arcade Bonnet Controller

Build a Raspberry Pi Retro Arcade

In this guide, we’ll learn how to wire up a Mini Analog Joystick to the Adafruit Arcade Bonnet for Raspberry Pi. Most of the arcade buttons plug into the Arcade Bonnet with quick connect wires – Making it much easier to put together a retro arcade controller or cabinet.

BlueLive: Livestream Studio Switcher Controller

Mapped for Livestream Studio, switch streams with big ole buttons

Sometimes you need one button for the job, and sometimes you need many.

This project is a fully enclosed 3D-printed Bluetooth controller, powered by a METRO 328 and LiPoly battery, mapped to use with Livestream Studio.

Using the serial input on the Bluefruit EZ-Key and some MCP23017 i2c expanders, there’s a whole load of buttons. Arcade buttons. Pushbuttons. Buttons and buttons and buttons!

3D Printed Wireless MIDI Controller Guitar

Make your own awesome wireless MIDI controller guitar for rocking out

Rock out with your very own wireless Keytar, a bluetooth MIDI controller that works with any computer or tablet! Jam out with up to 12 buttons that can be customized to trigger sounds or effects.

This project uses the E-Z Key bluefruit wireless controller from Adafruit. The guitar features 4 arcade buttons and 6 LED push buttons. The guitar can be used as a MIDI instrument, video game controller and even DJ controller. You can customize and configure your guitar to be whatever you want.

The enclosure is 3D printed and you can download the design files from Thingiverse. This six-piece design is optimized for the MakerBot Replicator 2 build plate. Don’t have a 3D printer? You can always fashion your own guitar from wood, plastic (or cardboard??)

We’re using 4 neo-pixels and a mic as a level meter so the LED’s animate to the sound. The Flora micro-controller powers these components and uses a toggle switch and battery pack. The two back covers are designed to easily snap on and off to quickly get to the components.

ALS Deep Cut

gaming_PC030143_2k.jpg

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 2017.

Turn a classic Atari joystick into a wireless controller with the Feather nRF52 Bluetooth!

Playing emulated games on an iPad or iPhone is a lot of fun, but one thing missing from the equation is a proper joystick. To fix this dire situation, you can take an original Atari 2600 joystick and turn it into a wireless controller capable of working with any iCade standard game!

The Feather nRF52 Bluefruit Bluetooth LE microcontroller is perfect for the task. It’s fast, has robust Bluetooth, and is tiny enough to fit inside the joystick’s case, along with a LiPo battery for power.

You won’t even need to modify the case, just remove the original cable and you’re ready to create a whole new, modern controller inside of the body of a classic!


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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