Adafruit Wearables

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Adafruit Wearables
draft beginner
2019/11/29 ⚒⚒ 2019/09/17
  • be aware of various Adafruit components
  • differentiate between Arduino-only micro-controllers and others
See also


  • be aware of various Adafruit components
  • differentiate between Arduino-only micro-controllers and others

See also

  • Quality: draft
  • Difficulty: beginner


This article describes various components of the Adafruit's Wearables, i.e. e-textile components.

According to Wikipedia (Aug 2019), “Adafruit Industries is an open-source hardware company based in New York City. It was founded by Limor Fried in 2005. The company designs, manufactures and sells a number of electronics products, electronics components, tools and accessories. It also produces a number of learning resources, including live and recorded videos related to electronics, technology, and programming.”

“In addition to our FLORA and GEMMA sewable microcontrollers, Adafruit's wearables category includes conductive textiles, battery packs, sensors and LEDs, and all-in-one packs perfect for beginners and as gifts.” (Wearables, retrieved August 28, 2019)

Adafruit wearables are an alternative to the Lilypad

See also:

Components of the Adafruit system

Below we provide a short overview. Our favorite system is the [Adafruit Circuit Playground Express]].

Microcontroller boards

All these boards, are some kind of tiny programmable computer and can connect to various other components, e.g. sensors, switches and LEDs.

AdaFruit Flora. Source: Flickr of AdaFruit

659 FLORA V3

FLORA was until recently, Adafruit's main wearable electronics platform. It's built around the Arduino Atmega32u4 chip and has built-in USB support.

  • FLORA - Wearable electronic platform: Arduino-compatible - v3 (as of Aug 2019) is the main board. It it includes a processor, a LED and various connectors. ($ 15)
  • 4.4 grams
  • 4.5 cm diameter (1.75)
  • 7mm thick (0.3")
  • USB support (Micro B cable needed)
  • Battery connector (several battery types are supported, i.e. 3.5v to 16v))
  • 14 connectors / also used for sewing.

Circuit Playground

  • A FLORA board that integrates LEDs, made for learning Arduino programming.
  • No longer much recommended, see below for the Express pack version.
AdaFruit Circuit Playground Express'. Source: Flickr of AdaFruit

Circuit Playground Express ($25)

Circuit Playground Bluefruit

  • As of 2019, this is the latest board in the "Express" line. It adds Bluetooth to the playground Express
  • However, as of Sept. 2019, this product is still in alpha stage, i.e. not suitable for beginners and schools
  • See Circuit Playground Bluefruit - ALPHA - Bluetooth Low Energy PRODUCT ID: 4333 ($24.95)





  • Circuit Playground Express
Playground express are interesting for education since the board can be programmed with MakeCode, JavaScript or CircuitPython. In addition, it can communicate with other boards through the infrared sensor. In addition to the built-in LEDs and sensors, one also can attach external components.
See Adafruit Circuit Playground Express for various packs

Sewing / fixing


Useful tools

At Adafruit

Making with Adafruit components may require various tools, some of which are not necessarily provided by Adafruit.

Local sellers

Shipping directly from Adafruit should be fast but I did not test it. Shipping Cost for a single item was estimated between 32 and 38$, meaning that one should buy several items to make it worthwhile. For larger volumes of some products (e.g. Neopixels), this should be the best option.

Compare prices before you buy. E.g. for once, and are very pricey and local or non-local Swiss distributors are much cheaper.


  • Distrelec. Good choice. Good for institutional shopping since they can ship with an invoice that you can pay later. However, no threads, few Neopixels. Some products I ordered were shipped from Holland.
  • Playzone. Good choice.
  • Digikey (OK choice, good prices). This company ships from the US. Has threads.
  • Microspot Limited choice,
  • and (limited choice, some very expensive)

Some observed prices:

  • Adafruit part 641 (thread) varies from 7 CHF to 15,45 € (Digi-key vs.
  • Playgound Express: 25 CHF + TVA at Digitec, 38.28 € at
  • Circuit Playground Express kit: 30.90 CHF + TVA at Digitec, 29.35 at Digi-Key.
  • Flora RGB Smart NeoPixel version 2 - Sheet of 20($35). 34.25 CHF at Digi-key
  • Adafruit NeoPixel LED Dots Strand - 20 LEDs at 2" Pitch PID: 3630. ($27.50). Not found locally, but seen on eBay for CHF 43 plus delivery fees. On for 45,18€ + 5€ delivery and 48€ on Amazon France. Almost double price.



See also: e-textile