Adabox 016

I recently decided to get an Adabox, which I like to refer to as a CSA for Makers. Rather than greens and veggies, I get a healthy dose of electronics gadgets to play with. Box 016 contains a 64×32 pixel RGB display, or in simple terms, 2000+ blinky lights!

In addition to a cool display, this is my first exposure to CircuitPython, which is Adafruit’s approach to programming microcontrollers via Python. I have to admit that I was hesitant at first, and spent much of my pre-unboxing time scouring the internet for tutorials that used Arduino sketches for controlling the display.

Man, when I gave CircuitPython a shot, it was amazing. Along with Mu, the simple Python text editor, I was up and running in no time. Mu recognized that I was using CircuitPython, and once I enabled serial communication to help me find the stupid syntax errors I often make, I was up and running. I hadn’t bought into the “not compiling saves time” argument of Python over C++ for microcontrollers, (especially given the lightweight programming I do) but it does turn out to be a nice feature to click save and watch my screen update (again, after those stupid syntax errors are wiped out).

Anyway, after bouncing through the tutorials, I modded one of the examples for a Skype call with my nephew. He’s 500+ miles away and it’s his birthday today (he’s 16). COVID prevented me from visiting him so I did the next best thing that a geeky uncle could do, make blinky lights blink for him.

We Skyped, ate cake (virtually) together and I watched as he opened his gifts (a tablet and accessories). I then faded into the background because, well, he’s 16, with a new gadget sitting in front of a screen with an old guy on it. I would do the same thing.

Happy Birthday, Nick.

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