Send your littleBits circuits out into the world wearing SHOES! Now you can hold your circuits together and place them on any surface. Try magnet shoes on your refrigerator, hook & loop shoes on your dog’s collar, or adhesive shoes for more permanent installations. Check out the projects below for inspiration and be sure to visit our Shoes Tips & Tricks Page for more ideas.
Magnet Shoes in Action
Make a mailbox indicator light. This circuit sits directly on your metal mailbox (due to magnet shoes) and signifies when mail is placed inside. When letters are placed on top of the roller switch, the long LED on the exterior of the box shines bright. Out with the flag and in with the long LED! littleBits circuit: power + roller switch + wire + bright LED.
Hook & Loop Shoes in Action
Shoes on shoes — secure your circuit to a pair of sneakers to make these Stomping Shoes. The light wire lights up whenever you stomp down due to a sound trigger. All you need to do is stick an adhesive velcro adhesive strip to the sneaker, add hook & loop shoes to your circuit, lace up the light wire and start dancing.
Make a light-up dog collar! Design your circuit (we used a power module, a sound trigger, wires, and bargraphs) and lock it together with hook & loop shoes. Sew parts sections of a velcro strip to the collar, position the circuit, and watch the collar light up when your dog barks.
Adhesive Shoes in Action
Using adhesive shoes, secure your synth circuit to any material and make an instrument. We made a Keytar! The adhesive on the shoes sticks nicely to the acrylic surface of our keytar and holds the modules snugly in place.
Need some littleBits shoes in your life? Click here
Hit the streets with littleBits. Check out projects featuring our newest accessory, the mounting board. The mounting board allows you to keep your circuit intact and move it around with ease! Simply snap together your littleBits circuit and press the feet of your modules into the holes of the mounting board. Here are a few examples of what you can make!
Skateboard – Trick out your ride with littleBits light effects. This sound-activated skateboard lights up the streets with LEDs and a light wire as you ride along. Simply attach your modules to the bottom of the skateboard with mounting boards! Hit the road and never look back.
Boombox –This portable mini boombox is great for carrying around town. Just place a synth circuit (with 2 speakers) on two sandwiched mounting boards and add an exterior casing. Then spread some music love to the streets.
Mounting Board Puppy Robot –This little puppy bot has two mounting boards for a body. Just add littleBits and some sturdy legs to get him walking. Control his stride by adjusting the pulse and slide dimmers that connect to his servo-activated legs. Activate the sound and motion triggers and he will happily come over and greet you.
Want to add a set of mounting boards to your littleBits collection? Click here.
Try your luck with the littleBits Lucky Slot Machine and win a handful of candy hearts for your special someone. This slot machine operates just like the real thing. Pull the lever to start the graphics spinning on three DC motors. As they stop spinning in succession, win big when three hearts line up. When the hearts align, so do three bright LEDs and three corresponding light triggers. This signals the servo-activated trapdoor to release a candy jackpot. Find more Valentine’s Day projects made with littleBits here.
Last week we had the pleasure of hosting Bilal Ghalib, a hacker aficionado and founder of both GEMSI (Global Entrepreneurship and Maker Space Initiative) and pocketfactory.org, at our offices in New York City. We asked Bilal to come spend time with us at littleBits and make the craziest project he could think of.
Not only did Bilal create a mind-blowing project with interesting interfaces that challenge the way we think about littleBits in combination with the physical and digital realms, his process truly showcased the power of littleBits as a prototyping tool.
Bilal was interested in how he could create an interface between the littleBits synth modules and his own music making tools (apps like Alchemy on the iPad) to make a more robust musical experience. His project has a number of physical and digital components that make up a multi-channel music-making machine.
“Piano Roll” Sequencer
The entire project is controlled by a “piano roll” sequencer that operates under similar principles to a player piano and is triggered by light. Bilal created a scrolling musical score by filling in dark spaces on an Excel spreadsheet and running it in between a series of 4 bright LEDs and 4 light triggers. When a dark square moves between a bright LED and a light trigger, a corresponding oscillator plays a note. This “piano roll” sequencer has four output channels and plays three notes. These sounds can be modified by adjusting the oscillators, but also by adding and mixing in other synth modules. The fourth channel, rather than producing a note, is connected to a long LED which lights up to the pattern of black squares on the scroll. The squares on this fourth channel are spaced at regular intervals and produce a pulse of light.
The light pulse put out by the long LED is read by a light trigger in a subsequent circuit that activates a drum beat in time to the “piano roll” sequencer. A normal pulse module could have been used to control the drum beat (the 2nd circuit), but with the light pulse, the drum beat corresponds with the speed of the DC motor that spins the scroll of notes, keeping the two circuits in sync with one another. The transfer of electrical signals between two isolated circuits via light is called opto-coupling. Not only is this a great way to sync up the two circuits, and it also helps the project to run more smoothly as each circuit has a separate power source. The larger and more complex a circuit gets, the more power it needs. This project also uses power adapters vs. batteries.
Conductive Servo Arms
The drum beat circuit is all based off a single pulse, but it produces three different rhythms simultaneously. This is done with a branch, a series of logic modules, and three servos. The servos are positioned on top of an iPad that has the Alchemy app open. Alchemy is a synthesizer app with a variety of sound sets and modification features (drum sounds were selected for this demo). The servo arms are dressed in conductive foam and wired to a copper pipe. When they are activated by the pulse signal, the conductive foam arms move up and down and touch certain spots on the iPad, creating different sounds of a drum rhythm. This conductive setup takes the place of a finger tap.
Logic-Based Drum Beat
This drum circuit, though controlled by one pulse, creates three different rhythms. The pulse goes into a branch where the three servos are connected. Before each servo are a series of logic modules (latches and inverters) that switch up the beats.
What’s great about this project is that you can modify the sounds and the rhythms by making physical changes (no programming is needed whatsoever). Switch up the rhythms by filling in squares on an Excel sheet, speed up the tempo by adjusting the speed of the dc motor scroll, add and subtract logic modules to mix up the drum beat, and change the quality of sound by experimenting with various synth modules.
A zoetrope is a device that produces the illusion of motion by rapidly spinning a series of static images. It is a classic invention with ancient roots and has gone through many iterations over the years. We thought we would put our own “spin” on the zoetrope using littleBits and 3d printed parts.
For this project, our circuit was relatively simple. It has a DC motor and three bright LEDs controlled by a pulse. We also used a button in combination with a latch in order to be able to turn it off and on.
If you don’t have a 3d-printer, but would still like to be able to use these parts, you can 3d-print our files via Shapeways. Shapeways is a 3d-printing marketplace and community. If you don’t want to go the 3d-printing route, try creating figures using Lego or clay.
You can also find all the 3d files for this project on Thingiverse.
We are very excited about some of the new projects that we’ve been working on as well as the projects that the littleBits community members are coming up with. In this post, we will showcase robots that react to their environments in a variety of ways and rely on no programming whatsoever. The following robots are able to navigate a space and each depends on a different set of sensors to do so.
Through a combination of LEGO and littleBits, we were able to create a super smart cockroach that reacts to its environment just like a real one would. It is able to navigate tricky spaces and it scurries when it is exposed to light. When it finds a dark place to hide, it lays low and stays put.
How it works:
Navigation – The two bend sensors act as sensing antennas to help the cockroach navigate its surroundings. When the cockroach approaches a wall, the closest bend sensor will be activated. This will cause the opposite wheel to stop spinning due to the inverter before the dc motor, steering the cockroach away from the wall.
Shadow Seeking – The cockroach has two light triggers. The light trigger is set on light mode, so when each of the sensors sees light, the wheels spin. When a light trigger sees darkness, it’s corresponding wheel stops spinning, making it so the cockroach turns toward the darkness. If both light sensors are in the darkness, the cockroach stops moving completely.
This smart little creature roams the table on a central wheel that is connected to a dc motor. Little plastic arms activate three roller switches on the side as they bump into cups and bowls, causing the robot to turn and try elsewhere. This happens because there is an inverter in between the first dc motor and a second dc motor positioned on the edge. More info about the circuit here.
This project, submitted by one of our community members, is a vehicle that is able to follow the twists and turns of a line made from black tape. It has two bright LEDs, two light sensors, and two dc motors. It works by illuminating the floor’s surface with the bright LEDs. The light sensors then pick up the reflected light from the floor. Lighter-colored surfaces (the floor) reflect more light than dark surfaces (the black tape). When one of the light sensors senses the lower reflectivity of the black tape, its corresponding dc motor slows down, thus turning the vehicle and keeping it on track.
Unable to watch the ball drop in Times Square or on TV? Worry not, celebrate at home with this DIY version made with littleBits. You will be in for a surprise when the ball hits a roller switch and triggers the servo. Confetti may or may not be involved. Learn how to make it!
Countdown to midnight with this voice-changing microphone. You can modify your voice by experimenting with the delay and filter modules from the littleBits Synth Kit.
He sees you when you are sleeping… He knows when you’re awake. Santa watches your every move, just like Great Uncle Edward. This creepy portrait has motion triggers that sense when you are near and eyes controlled by a servo that watch you wherever you go. The double AND, double OR, inverter, and latch make up the logic behind Santa’s eye movement.
Add some fun to your ensemble and surprise your guests with this quirky, sound-reactive bow tie. It moves on a servo and is activated by the sound of your voice! Control how it moves with a pulse and a dimmer.
Time to get fancy! This animated hat will surely impress your guests. Bright LEDs project a spinning image of Santa and his reindeer flying through the night on the wall of the hat. Just touch the pressure sensor at the top of the hat to activate the dc motor.
Time for a sing-a-long! Forget the words to Frosty the Snowman? The Caroler’s Helperis scrolling sheet music that you can use to follow along. Two dc motors turn the scroll of music when you press the pressure sensor on the frame.
This holiday season, let the littleBits Robot Butler pass the food around the table for you. This smart little creature roams the table on a central wheel that is connected to a dc motor. Little plastic laser-cut arms activate three roller switches on the side as they bump into cups and bowls, causing the robot to turn and try elsewhere. This happens because there is an inverter in between the first dc motor and a second dc motor positioned on the edge. For more information about the circuit, click here. To make your own, follow these instructions.
Music, like making, is universal. No matter how far you travel, either in distance or time, you’ll find people creating, and whether it’s things or sound, the act of creating is a constant that connects us all. With that, we are extremely excited to announce the littleBits Synth Kit . Developed with Korg, the world-renowned electronic instrument company, we have successfully combined music and making to provide an experience that has never been seen before. Taking our goal of making an electronic design platform accessible for all, now anyone can dream up new sounds or songs and make them a reality as fast as their mind will allow. We think this could be the start of a new chapter in the history of music technology and we hope you’ll join us for the ride.
-Paul Rothman, Product Development
Developed in partnership with Korg, a pioneer of electronic musical equipment, the littleBits Synth Kit is an infinitely customizable and expandable analog modular instrument. The littleBits Synth Kit includes an assortment of 12 electronic Bits modules that instantly snap together with magnets to create circuits like those used in Korg’s famous analog synthesizers (like the MS-20). The Synth Kit also includes a project booklet outlining step-by-step instructions for 10 projects.
The Synth Kit was developed over the course of 9 months and is a collaboration between two seemingly different companies that share very similar ideals and principles. We embarked on creating a kit that would behave as a modular analog synthesizer but was accessible to anyone with an interest in sound. We started by ideating the different modules that might be possible and picked the ones that would offer the most complete and varied experience.
After several modules for the kit were selected, a MAX/MSP patch was created to simulate the behavior between them. This simulation informed a lot of the features and interactions the modules now possess.
When thinking about the hardware layouts, the original sketches included trim pots for controls. This ensured the modules would remain small and there was no current precedent for a module to contain more than one potentiometer. After some reflection, it was realized that creating an instrument that required a screwdriver to adjust the controls would not be useful in a performance setting. We then decided to take the step to replace the trim pots with potentiometers, breaking a current convention but making the kit much more playable.
Each module has a story behind how it came about. Find out more about how each module developed here.
You know that kid that’s so smart she is consistently impressing you? The one who always says things like, “D’you know that the human head weighs 8 pounds?” Here’s some gift ideas that will have those kids saying, “You had me at educational electronics kits.” SHOW ME THE GIFT GUIDE!
Gifts from Adafruit!
Adafruit ARDX – v1.3 Experimentation Kit for Arduino (Uno R3) – v1.3 – Interested in making neat stuff with an Arduino but not sure where to start? This kit includes all the pieces needed to complete 11 different circuits, along with a experimenter’s guide booklet & breadboard layout sheets. Basically everything you need to be playing within minutes of its arrival. No soldering required!
The Laser Game: KHET 2.0 – Card games? LAME! Board games? BORING! Add some frickin’ lasers to your game-night with the game that combines lasers with classic strategy. Players alternate turns moving Egyptian-themed pieces having two, one or no mirrored surfaces. All four types of pieces (pharaoh, anubis, pyramid and scarab) can either move one square forward, back, left, right, or diagonal, or stay in the same square and rotate by a quarter twist. Each turn ends by firing the real laser diode built into each player’s Sphinx piece. The laser beam bounces from mirror to mirror; if the beam strikes a non-mirrored surface on any piece, it is immediately removed from play. The ultimate goal is to illuminate your opponent’s pharaoh, while shielding yours from harm!
Bigshot Camera – DIY Digital Camera Kit – Build your very own digital camera with the Bigshot camera kit. It’s a no-solder clip-together kit to help anyone understand the electronic and mechanical systems required to build a digital camera. From Bigshot: “The enormous appeal of the camera can be used to turn it into a compelling tool for learning. We believe that a camera designed for education must have three features. First, it should be designed as a kit for assembly – putting the kit together should expose the user to a wide range of science concepts. Second, it should include features that cannot be found in other cameras, allowing the user to explore new creative dimensions. Finally, it should be low-cost, making it accessible to the less privileged. Bigshot has been designed with these goals in mind. There is another important feature that sets Bigshot apart from virtually all educational kits – once you have built it, it is a fully functioning digital camera that you can use everyday!”
MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between. MaKey MaKey was invented by Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum & Made by JoyLabz. Find out more details at makeymakey.com or watch the video.
Drawdio is an electronic pencil that lets you make music while you draw! It’s great project for beginners: An easy soldering kit with instant gratification. Essentially, its a very simple musical synthesizer that uses the conductive properties of pencil graphite to create different sounds. The result is a fun toy that lets you draw musical instruments on any piece of paper. We also sell a pre-assembled version for all the fun without the soldering!
OWI Robotic Arm Edge – Robot arm – OWI-535 – Riding the wings of the award winning Robotic Arm Trainer, OWI has made robotic arm technology more affordable without compromising quality. With Robotic Arm Edge, command the gripper to open and close, wrist motion of 120 degrees, an extensive elbow range of 300 degrees, base rotation of 270 degrees, base motion of 180 degrees, vertical reach of 15 inches, horizontal reach of 12.6 inches, and lifting capacity of 100g. This is a pretty complicated arm to build, but we’re happy with the quality and the arm. Many hackers and makers have used it with our Adafruit Motorshield.
A National Historic Landmark named the “best all-time work of American architecture” by the American Institute of Architects in 2007, Fallingwater in Western Pennsylvania is a paragon of organically harmonious architecture. Now you can try your hand at constructing Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece with this amazing 811-piece Lego set. Including instructions as well as an informative booklet about the house’s design and history, this educational and challenging activity kit will delight and confound architecture fans ages 16 and up. Finished model measures 10″ long. (Not for children under 10.)
Program the ReCon Rover 6.0 to tell a knock-knock joke, guard your room, deliver a snack, demolish a Lego structure, and more. The full-color, 48-page manual includes instructions for 10 “missions,” plus illustrations, maps, tips, troubleshooting, and random facts. This robot allows kids to understand programming basics, likes sequencing and loops, while introducing more advanced concepts like Boolean logic, the Pythagorean theorem, and artificial intelligence (AI).
The ReCon Rover robot comes fully assembled and doesn’t require a computer. You supply three C batteries and help for young kids. Beginner level: Ages 8 and up.
Solar Power Vehicles Kit – Thames & Kosmos makes great kid for kids. We sell their Electronics Experiment Kit here, but are big fans of all their products including this Solor Power Vehicles Kit.
Explore engineering and vehicle mechanics as you build models like a helicopter, steam locomotive, or bulldozer. Then experiment with one or more photovoltaic cells to energize them outdoors in bright sun (or indoors with a AA battery). You can even design your own solar vehicles with the 177 pieces included in this set! It also includes a 24-page manual with step-by-step instructions for six models, plus scientific information on solar power and photovoltaic cells. Three solar cells are included that produce 1.5 volts in bright sun (not suitable for indoor use). You provide a AA rechargeable battery, which can be recharged with materials in this kit. Ages 10 & up.
Here are your 2013 shipping deadlines for ordering from Adafruit. Please review our shipping section if you have specific questions on how and where we ship worldwide for this holiday season.
UPS ground (USA orders): Place orders by Friday 11am ET – December 13, 2013 – There is no guarantee that UPS Ground packages will arrive in time for Christmas.
UPS 3-day (USA orders): Place orders by Thursday 11am ET – December 19, 2013 – Arrive on 12/24/2013.
UPS 2-day (USA orders): Place orders by Friday 11am ET – December 20, 2013 – Arrive on 12/24/2013.
UPS overnight (USA orders): Place orders by Monday 11am ET – December 23, 2013 – Arrive on 12/24/2013.
UPS International: Place orders by Monday 11am ET – December 16, 2013. Can take up extra time due to worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/24/2013 or sooner.
Please note: We do not offer Saturday service for UPS.
Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, Christmas, no UPS pickup or delivery service.
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, New Year’s Day, no UPS pickup or delivery service.
United States Postal Service, First Class and Priority (USA orders): Place orders by Friday – December 13, 2013 – Arrive by 12/24/2012 or sooner.
USPS First class mail international (International orders): Place orders by Friday – November 22, 2013. Can take up to 30 days ore more with worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/24/2013 or sooner, but not a trackable service cannot be guaranteed to arrive by 12/24/13.
USPS Express mail international(International orders): Place orders by Friday – December 13, 2013. Can take up to 15 days or more with worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/24/2013 or sooner.
One of our favorite things to sell here at Adafruit are experimentation/beginners kits. We know that with every one of these kits that we sell, we are introducing someone to a new hobby or skill. Thankfully, Adafruit stocks a huge variety of experimentation kits for all age levels. Here are our favorites:
We also offer a great starter pack for the Arduino. This pack includes everything you need to follow along with Ladyada’s fantastic Arduino tutorial. Once you have completed the online tutorials you will have some great gear to get you started on your first project. We also have a budget Arduino pack that will allow you to finish Ladyada’s tutorial as well.
mbed is another really powerful microcontroller that is also super easy to use thanks to the mbed online IDE. We have this neat mbed RFID/NFC starter kit that will not only introduce you to the mbed, but also teach you how to incorporate RFID/NFC into your projects.
This is the first of a series of posts looking at software that teaches kids about electronics. We will start by booting up the earliest electronics game that I know of called “Rocky’s Boots”. This was released by the Learning Company in 1982 and later followed up with “Robot Odyssey” in 1984. The same game engine was used by a number of other educational games at that time.
Rocky’s Boots teaches the user how to connect logic gates, flip flops, clocks and sensors to accomplish simple tasks. While I appreciate the game the logic gate tutorial section was more enjoyable for me to go through. Within minutes of following the logic gate tutorial you will see fascinating things. My favorite was connecting a not gate to itself and watching it become a oscillator.
There are two ways that I’ve played Rocky’s Boots.
1. The Easy Way – Web based using virtualapple. This is a little slow and takes away from the gaming experience.
2. The Cool Way - Local emulation on OS/X using Virtual ][. This was way more fun booting up a Apple //E disk and having a full screen retro gaming experience. I'm sure if you fired this emulator up in a public space any passer by would have to stop and comment.
Here is what I had to do to get the Apple II version of Rocky's Boots up and running on OS/X.
- download Virtual ][
- start virtualII
- download apple //e rom
* apple iie rom.zip
- Make sure rom file is unzipped and ends in .rom or .ROM
- Make sure rom file is in same folder as virtual][
- Start Virtual ][
- Press the Disks button and launch game.dsk
- Turn the speed dial to 3
- Use the caps lock key
What did I like about Rocky's Boots?
- The tutorials are focused. One room at a time
- Easy to learn key movements (i, j, k, m space bar)
- Excellent tutorials - logic gates, flip flops and clocks
What I do not like about Rocky's Boots.
- Devices like clackers and knives seemed too abstract when compared with modern electronics
- In game circuits seemed overly busy and complicated losing my attention