Adafruit Learning System Weekly Update: Guides for Green Thumbs

This week on the Adafruit Learning System we are going to take a look at all the guides for all the plant lovers out there. We are merging electronics and plant care to bring fun projects for all of you green thumbs out there. Monitor soil moisture, automatic watering, logging the data to Adafruit IO, and more! . But first lets take a look at what’s new on the Adafruit Learning System.

Favorite New Guide

This week my favorite new guide will show you how to make a wireless ESP32-S2 touch screen controller for pure data

This guide will show you how to use a QT Py ESP32-S2 running CircuitPython to control a Pure Data patch over WiFi. Pure Data is an open source programming language that can be used to create musical applications. It’s a visual programming language that lets you drag and drop code blocks into the software interface to create the patches.

A group of great guides for green thumbs

Click here for the green thumbs guide group on the Adafruit Learning System

PyPortal Pet Planter with Adafruit IO

Build a smart planter with Adafruit PyPortal and CircuitPython. Monitor your plants vitals with Adafruit STEMMA Soil Sensor and plot moisture and temperature data. Use Adafruit IO to create a visual dashboard with gauges of your plants water levels.

Chauncey the Flower Care Bot with CLUE and Bonsai Buckaroo

Chauncey is a Wrylon Robotical Flower Care Robot designed by Barry McWilliams and built by John Park. Due to certain regrettable events, full-scale production of the FLORABOT 3L-1G model, a.k.a. Chauncey, ceased in 1913. However, do not despair — you can build your own fully functional, 3D-printed Chauncey.

Mk. I plans for building Chauncey were published in the excellent 3D Printing Projects book from Maker Media.

Now, this updated Mk. II Chauncey can be created using a CLUE microcontroller board running CircuitPython and the Bonsai Buckaroo add-on board to sense soil moisture levels and water your flower or plant using a small, submersible pump.

Compost Friend!

So you’ve been composting for a bit now and things are going ok. You’ve been regularly turning the compost, but you have no idea if all this work is even worth it because you don’t even know what’s going on in there. You try to split the dry material and wet material 50/50 but some days it’s rainy and others it’s dry. Is it even heating up? Do you really have to stick your hand in last weeks spaghetti leftovers to tell? What if there was a way to know all the info you want to know about your compost and how to improve its health without ever touching or looking at it?

Good news! You can use a Circuit Playground Express and some extra goodies to tell you exactly what you want to know about your compost: when to add more food scraps, more dry material, and when to turn it.

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Plantagotchi: PyBadge Plant Monitor

You can build and code your own Plantagotchi — an adorable virtual plant friend to help you take care of your real potted plants and flowers!

We’ll use the PyBadge’s analog read capabilities to measure the moisture level of our potted plant’s soil. In fact, the dirt will act like one big variable resistor. When soil is dry, it’s not very conductive, so its resistance is high. Add water to the minerals in the soil and it will become more conductive, lowering the overall resistance.

We’ll provide a 3.3V reference voltage from the PyBadge over one alligator connected to a nail plunged into the soil. Then, another alligator clip will be plugged into analog pin A3 on the PyBadge and connected to a second nail in the soil. By reading the voltage level on pin A3 (from a possible 0 to 1023) we’ll be able tell how moist the soil is. When it’s dry, the voltage level read will be low, when it’s wet, the reading will be high.

Determining light levels is even easier — we’ll simply use the PyBadge’s built-in light sensor!

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 2017.

Build a remote chess board puzzle lock

What’s more satisfying that an obscure puzzle lock? How about one that involves chess pieces and a remotely actuated cash drawer that opens as if by magic? That’s awesome, let’s build it!!

This project uses an RFM69HCW Packet Radio Feather M0 paired with the PN532 NFC/RFID breakout board secreted under a chess board to read RFID tags hidden in the bases of the pieces. (These micro NFC/RFID NTAG tags are seriously tiny!)

When the correct pair of pieces are placed on the designated board spaces, the Feather board hidden inside the chess board sends an unlock message to the receiving Feather inside the cash drawer case that is paired with a Motor FeatherWing to drive a linear actuator, thus opening the drawer to reveal more clues. Amazing!

Here’s the stream of John Park’s Workshop LIVE if you’d like to see a more in depth tour of the build and operation.


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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