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Blog posts and video from Steven as he “COMBS” through the minutia to discover tech, retro-computing, physical computing, gadgets and sci-fi.

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7 September 2021

AdaBox 019 (Macropad) Unboxing and Live Stream

by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.
tags: adafruit - electronics

During Labor Day 2021, I opened a YouTube Live stream to share an unboxing of the Adafruit AdaBox 019. The box arrived several weeks ago. I kept putting it aside as I worked on other content for the blog and YouTube channel; however, I had an inkling of what was inside the box and was eager to open it up and start playing with the contents.

AdaBox 019 contents Image courtesy of Adafruit Industries

Here’s what Adafruit says about this box:

Strap yourself in, we’re launching in T-minus 10 seconds…Destination? A new Class M planet called ADABOX 019! “M” here stands for “Microcontroller” because this ADABOX is the first one to feature the newest technology from the Raspberry Pi sector: say hello to the RP2040. It’s a speedy little microcontroller with lots of GPIO pins and 64 times more RAM than the Apollo Guidance Computer. Get ready to upgrade your desk’s mission control station with a CircuitPython powered Macropad - complete with 12 buttons, OLED display, speaker and rotary encoder.

On a “whim,” I set up a couple of webcams on my desk, opened OBS Studio, made a few test streams, and went live. I wasn’t expecting anyone to join because the only announcement made was on the MEGA65 Discord channel. In hindsight, I should have posted to Twitter. Despite my lack of advertising, I ended up with ten viewers who spent anywhere from a few minutes to an hour with me. I’ve listed their names in the video description for the video. And, in my first retroCombs live stream, I even had two viewers send support my way.

Viewer Mislav was kind enough to buy me not one, not two, but three coffees and Jamie (From Jamie’s Hack Shack – check it out and subscribe) was the first to take advantage of a YouTube Super Sticker. Mislav recommends I start a Patreon. I’m not sure I’m ready to make this jump because with it comes an expectation that I’m not sure I can maintain given my workload. My Buy Me a Coffee account allows monthly support and even YouTube includes these tools. Have to do more research. If you have thoughts, leave them in the comments below.

Enough of that, let’s get to the companion video. Before you read the rest of this post, watch the companion video below.

YouTube Video: AdaBox 019 (Macropad) | retroCombs Labor Day LIVE Stream

In the LIVE stream video below, I open the box on the AdaBox 019.

Video Errata

None as of 2021-09-07.

Below are the links I mention in the video. All Amazon links are affiliate links. Thanks for supporting the blog and the YouTube channel!

  1. AdaBox 019
  2. Buy Me a Coffee
  3. Jamie’s Hack Shack
  4. Logitech BRIO

Final Thoughts

Below are final thoughts about the AdaBox 019 and the video unboxing, setup, and first use:

  1. For my first go at retroCombs live streaming, I was pleased. OBS performed admirably and after I got the kinks worked out, I felt at home with the technology. I had a couple of moments where I was on the wrong screen and the viewers had to imagine what I was pointing at, but I quickly made corrections.
  2. I’m aware I need a new camera for the desk view. The older Logitech C920 camera no longer locks its autofocus. I use an outstanding Logitech BRIO for the main web cam. It was investment during COVID and has been my go to camera for Zoom, YouTube recordings, and now live streams. It’s pricey, but as I told my neighbor Jamie, another one would make a great combo for workbench streams. Looks like I know what I can do with the funds received during the live stream. Not enough yet, but I’ll add those funds to my Amazon affiliate funds and before you know it, I’ll have an extraordinary live stream setup. {UPDATE: 2021-09-07} I might even consider the Lumina AI camera.
  3. Here’s the great irony of the Macropad project. The Macropad will make a wonderful control board to switch between OBS screens in future live streams. Expect it to appear in the future after I program the device’s buttons, OLED display, and LED lights. It will be one slick “Streamdeck-like” device.
  4. After the video, I took time to review the additional code available. I found a good start point the Macropad Hotkeys project. Use the code to activate keystrokes or macros. The key function appears on the OLED screen. Given time, it will be easy to convert this code to manage OBS Studio. I plan to dive into this project in the next week or two and will be sure to share.
  5. The live stream was fun, but I’m not sure what I might do for my next session. I’d like to focus on something MEGA65 related; however, I’m not a developer and not sure what I could add. I have a programming project to consider; however, I’d hate to fail during a live stream. If you have ideas, drop me a comment below or send it via email.

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🕹️ retroCombs, OUT!

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