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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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31 July 2020

OPEN THE (ADA) BOX: Adafruit Industries ADA BOX 015

by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.
tags: gadgets - electronics - maker - adabox - adafruit - kit - unbox

I don’t know why I started my subscription to Adafruit’s ADA BOX plan so late in the game with box #014. To make it happen, I cancelled the subscription to the Field Notes Quarterly and reallocated this “fun-money” to the quarterly ADA BOX. That was a good move for me. While I enjoy the Field Notes subscription, these paper products have stacked up and it will take me years to use them!

Because of COVID-19, the Adafruit team was unable to meet their normal quarterly spring ship schedule. COVID would have been the perfect time to enjoy a box; but I get it. Their employees needed protection and I’m sure their supply chain was affected. Imagine my excitement when Adafruit’s first box in six months arrived on my doorstep. Upon opening, I could tell they took time to prep these packs for a COVID world. You will understand that comment after you watch my open the box video below.

YouTube Video: OPEN THE (ADA) BOX: ADA BOX 015)

!!! SPOILER ALERT !!! Watching the video below will spoil your own enjoyment if you are an ADA BOX subscriber. Do not watch if you have not yet received your box! Enjoy the surprise. If you aren’t a subscriber, hopefully this open the box video will encourage you to support the amazing team at Adafruit Industries and enjoy some quarterly electronics fun. These boxes will also make a magnificent gift for the maker in your life.

Final Thoughts

  1. I said it in the video and I’ll write here; good on Adafruit for including a mask in the box during these strange times.
  2. I am unfamiliar with the Adafruit CLUE but really looking forward to digging into this device and its capabilities. At $40, it may seem a bit pricey; however, it includes a whole lot of tech. I didn’t list this tech in the video but I will do so here. The CLUE includes: Bluetooth LE, 1.3″ 240×240 Color IPS TFT display (not OLED as I mention in the video), proximity/light/color/gesture/sound/humidity/temperature/barometric pressure/altitude sensors (whew, that’s a whole lot of sensors), NeoPixel LED indicator, 2 Mb internal flash, two white LEDs and a STEMMA QT connector. The value proposition is much better when you understand what this little device is packing.
  3. The CLUE works with either the Arduino IDE or CircuitPython. I really want to play with CircuitPython and I now have a device that provides the perfect the opportunity!
  4. The other device included, which I was also unfamiliar with, is the Adafruit Bonsai Buckaroo - micro:bit & CLUE Plant Care Helper. I assume this name is a play on the movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. This device includes a buzz/speaker, 3V motor control, and alligator clip pads. The device connects to the CLUE’s six alligator clip connectors using six bolts with nuts. It’s a pretty slick unit and it’s good to see Adafruit build their CLUE ecosystem that’s also physically compatible with the BBC micro:bit. I wonder if this device would also work with the BBC micro:bit? I’ll have to find my micro:bit and give it a try sometime.
  5. Not sure why I received two gloves, but I’ll take the extra. I’m interested in exploring how to attach the CLUE to the glove. Would this make a great Halloween costume accessory? Maybe a bionic hand or wrist controlled laser blaster? How about a Star Trek inspired wrist “Tricorder?” Oh, my mind is churning.
  6. I looked online and it appears that my crumpled flower pot should be used as an insert for another small, more rigid, pot. That makes much more sense now. I’ll start my search for a small pot. I’m sure Nikki has one.
  7. I did some additional research on the CLUE. Recommended projects include a morse code chat box via Bluetooth between two CLUEs and a wrist mounted step counter (that would work will with another glove). Adafruit also provides instructions for a 3D printed CLUE case. That will happen with my Creality Ender 3.

Have Questions?

Have questions about the ADA BOX 015? Post them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what’s in store for box #016. It’s like Christmas four times a year!

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