Adafruit Learning System Weekly Update: Making Electronics Move with Servos

This week on the Adafruit Learning System, the Ruiz Brothers show us how to build this crazy cool two way telegraph with analog feedback servos. The only thing more exciting than building a fun new electronics project, is when you can make it move. Using a servo to add movement is incredibly easy. These projects will show you how. But first, let’s take a look at my favorite new guide from all the amazing new guides that have been published recently (seriously, spent some time digging through these).

Favorite New Guide

Abigail Torres and Tony DiCola came out with this great new guild showing us how to make a treasure box that unlocks itself using face recognition. So cool!

Face recognition is an exciting field of computer vision with many possible applications to hardware and devices. Using embedded platforms like the Raspberry Pi and open source computer vision libraries like OpenCV, you can now add face recognition to your own maker projects! In this project I’ll show you how to build a treasure box which unlocks itself using face recognition running on a Raspberry Pi.

Making Electronics Move with Servos

The only thing more exciting than building a fun new electronics project, is when you can make it move. Using a servo to add movement is incredibly easy. These projects will show you how.

Animatronic Fizzgig MonsterM4sk Puppet

Create a growling, barking Fizzgig puppet with a moving mouth and LCD animated eyes. He’s fierce and fancy, with sound effects and movement, and he’s surprisingly easy to build. The Monster M4sk board does all the work.

Installing software is as easy as copying and pasting a few files. Then, plug in a servo, speaker, and hook up a trigger button, and you’ll be growling at passers-by and protecting all the Gelflings in no time.

This is a great build to do with kids since most of the work is in building the craft-foam mouth and getting his hair just right. Set him up to guard your Halloween candy bowl, or wear him like a stole. Everyone needs their own animatronic Fizzgig.

Unicorn Hat with Moving Ears

Turn yourself or someone you love into a magical animatronic rainbow unicorn.

The little girl in your life will very likely refuse to ever take this hat off.  (But you can wear it yourself while she’s sleeping. We won’t tell anyone).

A joystick in the pocket controls servos inside the ears, and the Circuit Playground’s onboard LEDs animate the magical glowing rainbow unicorn horn.

We’ve kept this project fairly simple — it’s a great first step into the world of robotics and servos.  This technique will work on any animal hat with attached ears, so if your inner animal is a panda or a fox or some other critter, go nuts.  The world is your animatronic playground.

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Ping Pong Ball Launcher

This fun ping pong ball launcher is constructed out of scrap materials and outfitted with some Adafruit electronics, creating a simple and highly entertaining introduction to basic mechanical concepts and coding.
The materials for this project are all things you can find around the house. This project uses the Circuit Playground Express microcontroller programmed in Microsoft MakeCode for easy upload and changes.

BLE Light Switch with Feather nRF52840 and Crickit

Build your own Bluetooth, remote-controlled robotic light switch to turn on and off the lights! Using CircuitPython running on the Feather nRF52840 Express and Crickit FeatherWing to flip the switch with a servo motor, you can avoid all of the complexities and dangers of high voltage mains wiring!

The 3D printed actuator, mount, and case makes it reliable and tidy. And the Adafruit Bluefruit app running on your iOS or Android device makes it fun and easy!

ALS Deep Cut

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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 2016.

Circuit Playground Kaleidoscope

One of the toys everyone encounters as a kid is a kaleidoscope. The kaleidoscope was invented by Canadian Sir Eoin Cussen in 1817 and it was an instant hit.  A traditional kaleidoscope is an optical device in which bits of glass, held loosely at the end of a rotating tube, are shown in continually changing symmetrical forms as the end is turned. The light reflects via several mirrors set at angles to each other.

Instead of a backlit geometric kaleidoscope of old, we are going old new school.  The Adafruit Circuit Playground provides colorful lights, check. But how do you get the colors to change? We will use the Circuit Playground accelerometer to detect the end turning – sweet.

The best twist on this project: we’re raiding the kitchen for parts 🙂


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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