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Custom Circuit Playground Express
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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.

Custom Circuit Playground Express

by Frank_ on Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:02 am

Hi.

I am a Lecturer for an Introduction to Computer Science Course with around 1000 entry level Engineering Students each year. We are planing to change our Curriculum and want to use IoT devices as an example in our lectures and the weekly Tutorials our students need hand in. For this purpose we very much like the Circuit Playground Express as it combines an easy to use programming interfaces as well as a great selection of sensors and output devices (so great work! :)). However, unfortunately we are missing wifi or BT.

The Adafruit Feather M0 WiFi on the other hand does not have any of the sensors/outputs already built into the playground. Since changing hardware (soldering or connecting other stuff) is not part of our lecture this is a limiting factor for us (hardware level support for 1000 students is scary :D). Same goes for the ESP32 based Huzzah.

So with this in mind we have two questions:
1) Do you plan to release a Circuit Playground device with built in Wifi/BT?
2) If we were to change your design of the Playground device by adding an esp32 as wifi co-processor and custom build that for our students, would it be possible to make it look like a Playground device when used with MakeCode? Is it enough to flash a uf2-bootloader (https://github.com/adafruit/uf2-samdx1)

Thanks a lot for your time, and thanks you for the great work you do here at Adafruit!

Frank_
 
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Re: Custom Circuit Playground Express

by adafruit_support_mike on Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:39 am

Frank_ wrote:1) Do you plan to release a Circuit Playground device with built in Wifi/BT?

I don't know of any plans for that.

Frank_ wrote:2) If we were to change your design of the Playground device by adding an esp32 as wifi co-processor and custom build that for our students, would it be possible to make it look like a Playground device when used with MakeCode? Is it enough to flash a uf2-bootloader (https://github.com/adafruit/uf2-samdx1)

In that kind of design, you'd probably use the ESP32's AT-command control interface through a Serial port, with the SAMD21 at the other end.

That would leave the SAMD21 unchanged as far as the bootloader is concerned. The existing UF2 bootloader should work normally.

Fair warning, the ESP32 is still kind of a public beta in terms of hardware stability and software support. If you're just looking for a Wifi interface, the ESP8266 is a bit more stable.

adafruit_support_mike
 
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Re: Custom Circuit Playground Express

by Frank_ on Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:44 am

Thanks for the quick reply.

adafruit_support_mike wrote:Fair warning, the ESP32 is still kind of a public beta in terms of hardware stability and software support. If you're just looking for a Wifi interface, the ESP8266 is a bit more stable.


That is good to know.

Frank_
 
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Re: Custom Circuit Playground Express

by adafruit_support_mike on Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:26 pm

Also, are you interested in a Bluetooth-Classic interface, or BLE? We have nRF51822 modules that also use a Serial interface, and will work with a Circuit Playground Express:

https://www.adafruit.com/product/2479
https://www.adafruit.com/product/2487

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Re: Custom Circuit Playground Express

by Frank_ on Wed Mar 20, 2019 2:55 am

Hi.
Yes BT or BLE is an option too. As long as we can demonstrate some wireless communication with it, it is fine. Honestly the ESP solution feels a bit like overkill anyways (having an 80/240MHz coprocessor to a 48MHz main unity ;) )

Any chance they'll be available on the Playground in the future :D

Frank_
 
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Re: Custom Circuit Playground Express

by adafruit_support_mike on Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:21 am

I doubt we'll make any version of the Circuit Playground with a wireless interface. The board is targeted to people who are just getting started with hardware, and any wireless interface comes with a lot of complexity. That's the beauty of OHW though: you're free to spin your own version with whatever modifications you want.

Regarding Bluetooth, the protocol now known as Bluetooth Classic is generally unfriendly to hackers. You can only build devices that conform to the spec's set of profiles, which makes life easier for OS developers but effectively cuts off any experimentation. It also requires a paid Vendor ID number, and that cost is too high to make sense for anyone who isn't selling consumer goods.

BLE is much more flexible, and the BT-5 spec has added a lot of room to transmit data. It's fundamentally incompatible with BT-C though.. much slower, and there's very little OS level support for BLE communication beyond talking to the radio. In general, BLE projects require a combination of embedded firmware and phone/desktop software development.

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Re: Custom Circuit Playground Express

by Frank_ on Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:44 am

adafruit_support_mike wrote:That's the beauty of OHW though: you're free to spin your own version with whatever modifications you want.

Yes, and we appreciate very much that you are a firm believer in OHW.

adafruit_support_mike wrote:BLE is much more flexible, and the BT-5 spec has added a lot of room to transmit data. It's fundamentally incompatible with BT-C though.. much slower, and there's very little OS level support for BLE communication beyond talking to the radio. In general, BLE projects require a combination of embedded firmware and phone/desktop software development.

This part is actually reason for us why we are so interested in this combination :). Every part of this product (phone/desktop developer, electrical engineers workin on the hardware design and mechanical engineers creating machines embeding small scale sensors) is part of our audience.

Once more, thank you so much for your time and help!

Frank_
 
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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.