The Adafruit lingo for their hardware is quite extensive and can be confusing to someone new to the Adafruit ecosystem. One of the primary goals of this website is to help newcomers sort through this cornicopia of terminology.
Adafruit designs and sells their own custom microcontrollers, components, sensors, and more.
What are Microcontrollers?
Microcontrollers are single purpose computers
- small embedded development boards
- limited storage and memory
- limited processing power
Microcontrollers vs General Purpose Computer
- Use of microcontrollers is fine for many cases
- When you need more computational power, you may want to use a Raspberry Pi
- For example, if you wish to have a web dashboard to interface with, then you will need to use a Raspberry Pi
For more info, see the Glossary page for Microcontroller
Recommended: First Adafruit Hardware for Beginners
A Beginner's Recommendation.
Among the many Adafruit devices, the Circuit Playground Bluefruit is more accesible to beginners. It is a great piece of hardware to start with.
For more info, see the Glossary page for Circuit Playground Bluefruit
List of hardware supported by CircuitPython
List of all the hardware currently supported by CircuitPython (Adafruit and other manufacturers) is available at the CircuitPython Downloads Page.
As of May 2022
- There are over 300 boards supported by CircuitPython and that list grows everyday.
- The list is sorted by number of downloads.
- The most popular board -- the Raspberry Pi Pico -- is not manufactured by Adafruit.
Adafruit offers over 70 different microcontrollers which run CircuitPython.
Within the Adafruit ecosystem, the primary microcontroller form factors are:
- Circuit Playground
- Adafruit Feather (Regular)
- Supported by an extensive array of expansion options called FeatherWings
- ItsyBitsy (Small)
- QT Py (Tiny)
- Metro (Arduino form factor)
- Trinket (Mini microcontroller)
- Trinkey (Mini microcontroller in USB dongle form factor)
Other form factors:
- Gemma M0 (tiny - great for wearble projects)
- FunHouse (home automation)
- KB2040 (custom keyboards)
- MacroPad (custom macrokeypad)
- MagTag (e-ink display with WiFi)
- MatrixPortal (power LED Matrix displays - has WiFi)
- PyPortal/PyPortal Titano (an IoT display)
- Trinket M0
Most Adafruit devices use one of the following chipsets:
There are features and advantages to each chipset, so there are often multiple versions of a particular Adafruit form factor based upon different chipsets.
- Circuit Playground Versions
The SAMD21 has limited flash space for including new features in CircuitPython. The non-Express versions are extra crunched because 64k of the flash is used for the file system.
Most microcontroller form factors have expansion boards which can extend functionality.
There are a wide variety of names for add-on boards.
- Feather boards use FeatherWings
- Arduinos use Shields
- Raspberry Pi SBCs use HATs
- QT Py use BFFs
- BeagleBone boards use Capes
- Circuit Playground Express use Gizmos
- Raspberry Pi Pico use Bells
Pretty Pins - pin out diagrams for Adafruit hardware
CSV files for Adafruit pin out diagrams - only needed to be done once per chip
Choosing a Board
This page was last updated on 2022-07-19 13:03:07 -0500.