The Microsoft MakeCode team is proud to announce a great partnership with our good friends at Adafruit Industries. Over the last several months we have been working together on a new educational physical computing experience that pairs Microsoft MakeCode with a new version of the Circuit Playground board, called Circuit Playground Express.
This new board carries over all the goodness of Circuit Playground Classic – small size, round shape, colored NeoPixels, etc. – but packs in even more sensors (thanks to the brilliant Ladyada), along with a more powerful processor. Circuit Playground Express uses our MakeCode magic to allow easy drag-and-drop programming from inside a browser.
The Circuit Playground Express is a beautiful board with 10 gorgeous, brightly colored NeoPixels. Using Microsoft MakeCode, students can use the built-in animations like Rainbow or Sparkle to animate their Circuit Playground Express, or design their own animations using the Show Ring block to select colors.
2. Logo on Circuit Playground
The Logo programming language was one of the first educational tools for Computer Science and gained popularity for its “Turtle graphics,” which allowed students to program designs using an on-screen cursor. The Photon blocks (below) in Microsoft MakeCode allow students to create similar designs and animations via the Circuit Playground Express’ NeoPixels.
3. Beep, buzz, bing!
Audio really engages students while they’re doing physical computing. With the on-board speaker and microphone on the Circuit Playground Express, students can have a blast programming their own music, or using some of the built-in sounds. And yes, that means siblings and parents within earshot will get to hear what creative computing sounds like.
One of the great things about Microsoft MakeCode is its event-driven programming model, which provides built-in events for sensor data. That means students don’t have to worry about constantly polling for information. The Magic Wand project is five blocks of code that uses the Circuit Playground Express’s motion sensor to detect movement and mark it with a sound and animation.
5. Look Ma, no drivers!
One of the things teachers willl appreciate the most about MakeCode on Circuit PlayGround Express is that no installation is required. Students can program in the browser, plug their Circuit Playground Express into the USB port, then drag and drop their program files.
Students can share their programs with each other, or with their Teachers, via an anonymous URL.
For more information, or to order the Circuit Playground Express, please see Adafruit’s website:
- Circuit Playground Express Product Page
- Circuit Playground Express Base Kit
- Adafruit Learn: Microsoft MakeCode
To start programming your Circuit Playground, jump into https://makecode.adafruit.com.
As this is a Beta release, there are some coming-soon features that we are still working on, such as:
- Support for the Infrared receiver and transmitter
- Support for the Microphone
We will be down at Maker Faire Bay Area this weekend building Circuit Playground Express Magic Wands, and raffling off some Circuit Playground Express boards with our friends at Hackster. Please come by and say hi if you’ll be there, and follow us on Twitter for the giveaway details.
Have fun Making Code for Circuit Playground Express, and please let us know your thoughts by filling out our feedback form.