Introduction

This guide is for people new to Adafruit and to electronics.

  • The focus is on the Adafruit ecosystem
  • Roadmap for people new to the Adafruit ecosystem.
  • Review Adafruit lingo and branding.

This website does not cover electronics in general -- Along the way some electronics is discussed, but this website does not cover topics in depth.

As much as possible, links to additional resources or references will be provided.

Adafruit is an open-source hardware company which designs custom hardware and components. Located in New York City, Adafruit was founded by Limor Fried (aka "Lady Ada") in 2005. All designs and guides are openly shared.

Adafruit also provides Learn Guides which uses the hardware to do cool stuff. Adafruit has over 2,600 guides, and it can be overwhelming for those just starting out ("newbies").

Note

While there is no "right" or "wrong" approach to learning electronics, on this website I make some opinionated recommendations geared to the absolute "newbie" – people who are new to both electronics and to the Adafruit ecosystem.

You will see these labeled as:

A Beginner's Recommendation

Feel free to ignore my recommendations if you are already knowledgable in electronics in general and just wish to get quickly acclimated with the Adafruit lingo. Often "newbies" want a clearly defined roadmap, so my recommendations are for those who have no idea where to start and just want to get started somewhere. I will explain why I make the recommendations.

The Adafruit website

Let's begin with a general overview of how the Adafruit website is organized.
As of 1/2022, the adafruit.com website has a navigation bar on the top left.

Screenshot

  • "Shop" - the online store where you can peruse product pages, and place online orders. Specific product pages will often include links to related Learn Guides.
  • "Learn" - where documenation and Learn Guides are located. More details below.
  • "Blog" - Adafruit's blog which is updated daily.
  • "Forums" - Adafruit's support forums where you can seek help from customer support or the community.
  • "LIVE!" - where you can find Adafruit's currently live streaming show, or if there isn't currently a live stream their main YouTube Channel. More details below.
  • "AdaBox" - a link to their order page for Adabox. More on Adabox below.
  • "IO" - a link to Adafruit's online service.

Learn Guides

Adafruit offers thousands of learn guides -- Most Learn Guides are walk throughs of specific projects with Adafruit hardware and software. Some Learn Guides discuss electronics topics.

Guides for Beginners

https://blog.adafruit.com/2021/04/20/adafruitlearningsystem-weekly-update-beginner/

"If you are just getting started with electronics, it can be difficult to know where to begin. With almost 2,500 guides published on the Adafruit Learning System, it might seem hard to figure out which guides are best for a beginner like you. Thankfully, we have each guide tagged with its difficulty level making it easier for beginners to find the right guides. We even have a curated beginners page that has a breakdown of guides that might interest those who know nothing about electronics, all the way through those who are just getting their feet wet."

Shows

Aside from articles on the adafruit.com website, Adafruit broadcasts many shows throughout the week covering various topics. Most of these shows are posted to YouTube if you miss the live stream.

The shows are great resources and very informative. For an absolute newbie, some shows may be hard to digest since there is often an assumption that viewers already possess some basic understanding -- although if you attend a live stream, you may ask questions during the show, and Adafruit will likely answer your questions.

Adabox

Note

Before we dive into the Adafruit ecosystem, a Beginner's Recommendation.

Adabox

Adabox is a discovery subscription service with curated Adafruit products. The target audience is geared towards beginners and hobbyists.

I'm skeptical of many subscription services, but in the case of Adabox, I whole-heartedly recommend that beginners (and non-beginners) give it a try.

Adabox is released on a Quarterly cadence (as much as possible).
You have the option either to subscribe, or you can gift one or multiple Adabox to yourself (or others).

Each Adabox is standalone and shipped with all the components and parts needed to construct projects.

In my opinion, Adabox is for kids ages 12 and up. Younger kids may need adults to help them.
The construction of the hardware is usually not that difficult -- it's more on the software/programming side where younger kids may need adult assistance.

I've been an Adabox subscriber since Adabox015, and I've back purchased Adabox007 and Adabox014, as well as bought the equivalent kits for Adabox008, Adabox010, Adabox011, Adabox012, and Adabox013.

PROs

  • Value of all the equipment and shipping often exceeds the amount you pay for the subscription, and Adabox includes custom extras which are not available in their regular online store.
  • Cool unboxing live stream (recorded and available afterwards on YouTube)
    • Entertaining and goes through the contents of the Adabox
    • Demo of one or two projects is shown.
    • If you attend the live stream, you may ask questions.
  • Adabox is often accompanied with a long list of Learn Guides (projects).
    • The Learn Guides are accessible to newbies
  • Ask questions or request support via Adafruit's support forums.

CONs

  • Delivery of the Adabox can be delayed. The global chip shortage and supply chain delays have made it difficult for Adafruit. I received the most recent two adaboxes weeks after the official unboxing video (whereas in the past the unboxing videos were timed to coincide with the majority of customers to have already received their Adabox.)
  • Occassionally there may be some things mentioned which could be hard for newbies to follow. (Hence, why I wrote this guide.)

List of Adaboxes

Adabox Release Date Description
Adabox001 11/2016 Welcome to feather - Feather 32u4 Adalogger, Neopixel feather wing, LCD 16x2, Piezo buzzer, TMP36 sensor, etc
Adabox002 12/2016 Making Things Move - Feather Bluetooth LE Mini Robot - Feather 32u4 Bluefruit LE, DC Motor and Stepper FeatherWing, Piezo buzzer, etc
Adabox003 5/2017 The World of IoT - Feather Huzzah with ESP8266 WiFi, Featherwing OLED 128x32, DHT22 sensor, Micro servo, PIR sensor, etc
Adabox004 8/2017 Making Things Dance - Feather Huzzah with ESP8266 WiFi, MusicMaker Featherwing, 3W 4ohm speaker, etc
Adabox005 9/2017 Break for Pi - Raspberry Pi Zero, Adafruit Joy Bonnet, Hammer Headers, etc
Adabox006 1/2018 CircuitPython - Circuit Playground Express, Alligator clips, etc
Adabox007 6/2018 Spy - Gemma M0, lock picks, practice lock, Piezo buzzer, etc https://www.adafruit.com/adabox007
Adabox008 10/2018 Octo Crickit MakeRobotFriend - Circuit Playground Express, Adafruit CRICKIT for Circuit Playground Express, etc https://www.adafruit.com/adabox008
Adabox009 10/2018 Hallowing - Adafruit Hallowing M0 Express, Micro Servo, PIR sensor, Neopixel LED strip, etc
Adabox010 1/2019 Rainbow Trellis - Adafruit NeoTrellis M4, etc https://www.adafruit.com/adabox010
Adabox011 4/2019 PyPortal - PyPortal, PyPortal Desktop Enclosure kit https://www.adafruit.com/adabox011
Adabox012 7/2019 PyGamer - PyGamer, PyGamer acrylic enclosure kit, etc https://www.adafruit.com/adabox012
Adabox013 9/2019 Monster M4sk - The Monster M4sk, etc https://www.adafruit.com/adabox013
Adabox014 12/2019 Merry Adaboxmas - Circuit Playground Bluefruit, TFT Gizmo, snow globe, etc https://www.adafruit.com/adabox014
Adabox015 7/2020 Come to your Sensors - Adafruit CLUE, Adafruit Bonsai Buckaroo, two Alligator clips, water pump, etc https://www.adafruit.com/adabox015
Adabox016 10/2020 MatrixPortal - MatrixPortal M4, 64x32 RGB Matrix, LED Diffusion Acrylic, etc https://www.adafruit.com/adabox016
Adabox017 12/2020 Good Fortune Ahead - MagTag, Neopixel strip, Magnetic whiteboard, etc https://www.adafruit.com/adabox017
Adabox018 5/17/2021 No place like home - FunHouse, mini PIR sensor, ultrasonic distance sensor, etc https://www.adafruit.com/adabox018
Adabox019 7/31/2021 Macropad https://www.adafruit.com/adabox019
Adabox020 10/27/2021 LED Glasses https://www.adafruit.com/adabox020/

Other Media

Aside from Video https://www.adafruit.com/shows

Adafruit is dedicated to providing you information in your chosen way.

Next Steps

This page was last updated on 2022-04-27 20:45:07 -0500.