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
2 Components of the Adafruit system
Below we provide a short overview. Our favorite system is the [Adafruit Circuit Playground Express]].
2.1 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.
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.
- A FLORA board that integrates LEDs, made for learning Arduino programming.
- No longer much recommended, see below for the Express pack version.
Circuit Playground Express ($25)
- Circuit Playground Express.
- See Adafruit Circuit Playground Express
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 ($24.95)
- FLORA Accelerometer/Compass Sensor - LSM303 - v1.0
- Flora Wearable Ultimate GPS Module
- Flora Color Sensor with White Illumination LED - TCS34725
- Flora UV Index Sensor - Si1145 Light Sensor
- Flora Wearable Bluefruit LE Module. Bluetooth module, can act as controller. But also send data.
- Flora RGB Smart NeoPixel version 2 - Pack of 4
- GEMMA Talking Toy Guts Sound Pack
- FLORA GPS Starter Pack ($ 90)
- FLORA Budget Pack ($ 35)
- Getting Started with Adafruit FLORA Book Pack ($95). This includes probably everything that is needed for a simple project
- Circuit Playground Express
- See Adafruit Circuit Playground Express for various packs
2.5 Sewing / fixing
- Small Alligator Clip Test Lead (set of 12) for testing before connecting the threads
- Stainless Medium Conductive Thread - 3 ply - 18 meter/60 ft
- Magnetic Pin Back
- 3 x AAA Battery Holder with On/Off Switch and 2-Pin JST. If you plan to use standard AAA batteries.
- Lithium Ion Polymer Battery - 3.7v 1200mAh plus a a LiIon/LiPoly constant-voltage/constant-current charger to recharge them.
- Lithium batteries cannot be shipped by plane. For unknown reasons, such batteries are up to four times as expensive in Europe (whereas the CPX boards are roughly the same price in Switzerland).
- These batteries have a JST-PH connector. There are many "JST" variants, be sure to get the JST-PH if you buy a battery from another supplier.
- Possible sellers: digitec
3 Useful tools
3.1 At Adafruit
Making with Adafruit components may require various tools, some of which are not necessarily provided by Adafruit.
3.2 Local sellers
Shipping directly from Adafruit should be fast but I did not test it. Shipping Cost for a single item was estimated between 32 and 38$, 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, amazon.fr and Amazon.de 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,
- Amazon.fr and Amazon.de (limited choice, some very expensive)
Some observed prices:
- Adafruit part 641 (thread) varies from 7 CHF to 15,45 € (Digi-key vs. Amazon.fr)
- Playgound Express: 25 CHF + TVA at Digitec, 38.28 € at Amazon.fr
- 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 Amazon.de for 45,18€ + 5€ delivery and 48€ on Amazon France. Almost double price.
- Flora Main product page
- Adafruit Educators forum (all products)
See also: e-textile
- Stern, B., & Cooper, T. (2015). Getting started with Adafruit FLORA: making wearables with an Arduino-compatible electronics platform. Maker Media, Inc.
- Rozenfeld, M. (2015). How DIY Electronics Startup Adafruit Industries Became a Multimillion-Dollar Company, IEEE, the institute, http://origin.www.theinstitute.ieee.org/career-and-education/startups/how-diy-electronics-startup-adafruit-industries-became-a-multimillion-dollar-company
|Is module of||Adafruit Wearables +|
|Is part of syllabus||E-textile +|
|Last important modification||September 17, 2019 +|
|Next page||Adafruit Circuit Playground Express +|
|Objective||be aware of various Adafruit components + and differentiate between Arduino-only micro-controllers and others +|
|See also||Adafruit Circuit Playground Express +, MakeCode +, Adafruit GEMMA +, Adafruit NeoPixel + and Adafruit Sensors +|