Circuit Playground Express

A compact, all-in-one board that combines an array of sensors, LEDs, and buttons with powerful processors and wireless communication

Cover image for board - Circuit Playground Express circuit playground adafruit microcontroller

19 June 2023 by Kevin McAleer | Share this article on


The Adafruit Circuit Playground Bluefruit is a compact, all-in-one board that combines an array of sensors, LEDs, and buttons with powerful processors and wireless communication. This board is an excellent platform for anyone looking to explore electronics, programming, and the Internet of Things.

About the Manufacturer

Adafruit Industries is a U.S.-based company known for its high-quality educational electronics and resources. Founded by Limor “Ladyada” Fried in 2005, Adafruit has made significant contributions to the maker movement, with a wide range of products from beginner-friendly boards like the Circuit Playground to more specialized tools for advanced users.

Target Audience

The Circuit Playground Bluefruit is aimed at beginners looking for an accessible entry into electronics and programming, educators seeking comprehensive yet easy-to-use tools for teaching, and experienced makers looking for a versatile, compact board for their projects.

Onboard Features and Specifications

The Circuit Playground Bluefruit is powered by the Nordic nRF52840 processor, an ARM Cortex-M4 CPU with 1MB of Flash and 256KB of RAM, running at 64MHz. It supports both Bluetooth LE and native USB support, making it a great choice for wireless projects.

The board comes packed with built-in sensors such as a temperature sensor, light sensor, sound sensor (microphone), and a motion sensor (accelerometer). It also has a built-in speaker, 10 NeoPixel LEDs, and two push buttons.

Programming Languages

The Circuit Playground Bluefruit can be programmed using Arduino IDE, which uses a simplified version of C/C++. Additionally, it also supports CircuitPython, a Python variant for microcontrollers, which allows for quick and easy changes to your code without the need for compilation.

Fun Projects

With its diverse onboard features, the Circuit Playground Bluefruit opens the door to a wide range of projects. For beginners, simple projects might include creating light shows with the NeoPixel LEDs, making a noise-activated light, or designing a tilt-based game using the accelerometer.

For those interested in IoT projects, you can use the Bluetooth LE connectivity to create a wireless temperature monitor, design a smartphone-controlled LED light show, or even a DIY music player that can be controlled from your phone.

GPIO Pinouts

The Adafruit Circuit Playground Bluefruit offers 14 pads (numbered 0 to 13) around the edge of the board, which can serve as GPIO (General-Purpose Input/Output) pins. These pads can handle digital input/output, and many have additional capabilities:

  • Pads 0-7 and 10-12: These pads can be used as digital I/O and can also handle capacitive touch.

  • Pads 9, 10, 11: These pads provide true analog outputs with PWM support.

  • Pad 13: It is connected to the built-in red LED.

  • Power Pads: The board includes 3.3V and GND pads.

  • Reset Button: This button resets the board.

In conclusion, the Adafruit Circuit Playground Bluefruit is a dynamic, feature-rich platform that offers a hands-on, enjoyable way to explore programming and electronics. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced maker, this board has something for everyone, making it a truly versatile tool in the world of digital making.

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Kevin McAleer

I build robots, bring them to life with code, and have a whole load of fun along the way

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