CircuitPython Examples: A Comprehensive Guide to Coding with CircuitPython [2023]

circuitpython examples

CircuitPython is an easy-to-use programming language based on Python that allows you to write code and control hardware with minimal effort. It is designed specifically for microcontrollers and provides a simplified interface for interacting with electronic components. With CircuitPython, you can quickly prototype and create projects without the need for complex setup or compilation steps.

In this guide, we will explore CircuitPython examples that demonstrate how to code with CircuitPython and interact with various components. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced programmer, this guide will provide valuable insights and practical examples to help you get started with CircuitPython.

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CircuitPython is a beginner-friendly programming language built on the foundations of Python. It provides an interactive and simplified approach to coding for microcontrollers, making it accessible to users of all skill levels. With CircuitPython, you can easily prototype and create projects without the need for complex setup or compilation steps.

Getting Started with CircuitPython

To get started with CircuitPython, you'll need a microcontroller board that supports CircuitPython. Popular boards such as Adafruit's CircuitPlayground Express and Feather M4 Express are great options for beginners. Once you have a compatible board, follow these steps:

  1. Download and install the latest version of the CircuitPython firmware for your board from the official CircuitPython website.

  2. Connect your microcontroller board to your computer using a USB cable. The board should appear as a USB drive.

  3. Locate the CircuitPython firmware file and drag it onto the USB drive. The firmware will automatically install on the board.

  4. After the firmware installation is complete, the board will reboot and CircuitPython will be ready to use.

CircuitPython Examples

Now that you have CircuitPython set up on your microcontroller board, let's explore some useful CircuitPython examples that demonstrate how to control various components.

LED Control

One of the simplest and most common examples in electronics is controlling an LED. CircuitPython makes it incredibly easy to control LEDs using just a few lines of code. Here's an example:

import board
import digitalio
import time

led = digitalio.DigitalInOut(board.D13)
led.direction = digitalio.Direction.OUTPUT

while True:
    led.value = True
    led.value = False

In this example, we import the necessary modules, set up a digital output pin for the LED, and toggle its value on and off with a delay of 0.5 seconds.

Button Input

Interacting with buttons is another common scenario in electronics projects. CircuitPython makes it easy to read button input and trigger actions accordingly. Here's an example:

import board
import digitalio

button = digitalio.DigitalInOut(board.D2)
button.direction = digitalio.Direction.INPUT
button.pull = digitalio.Pull.UP

while True:
    if not button.value:
        print("Button pressed!")

In this example, we set up a digital input pin for the button, enable an internal pull-up resistor, and continuously check the button's value. When the button is pressed, the message "Button pressed!" is printed.

Analog Input

CircuitPython supports analog input through its built-in analog-to-digital converter (ADC) module. This allows you to read values from analog sensors and perform actions based on the measured data. Here's an example:

import board
import analogio

analog_in = analogio.AnalogIn(board.A0)

while True:
    value = analog_in.value
    voltage = (value / 65535) * 3.3
    print("Analog value:", value)
    print("Voltage:", voltage)

In this example, we read the analog value from pin A0 and calculate the corresponding voltage based on the measured value. The analog value and voltage are then printed.

PWM Output

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is a technique for controlling the intensity of digital signals. In CircuitPython, you can easily generate PWM signals to control things like brightness of LEDs or motor speed. Here's an example:

import board
import pulseio

led = pulseio.PWMOut(board.D2, frequency=1000, duty_cycle=0)

while True:
    for i in range(0, 65535, 1024):
        led.duty_cycle = i

In this example, we set up a PWM output pin for an LED and gradually change its brightness by varying the duty cycle of the PWM signal.

Sensor Interaction

CircuitPython also provides libraries to interact with various sensors and modules. For example, you can use the Adafruit CircuitPython Library to interface with sensors like temperature sensors, humidity sensors, accelerometers, and more. Here's an example using the Adafruit BME280 library:

import board
import busio
import adafruit_bme280

i2c = busio.I2C(board.SCL, board.SDA)
bme280 = adafruit_bme280.Adafruit_BME280_I2C(i2c)

print("Temperature:", bme280.temperature)
print("Humidity:", bme280.humidity)
print("Pressure:", bme280.pressure)

In this example, we initialize the I2C interface and create an instance of the BME280 sensor. We then read and print the temperature, humidity, and pressure values from the sensor.


Should I use MicroPython or CircuitPython?

Both MicroPython and CircuitPython are great options for coding with microcontrollers. MicroPython is a more general-purpose implementation of Python for microcontrollers, while CircuitPython is a fork of MicroPython specifically designed for the Adafruit Circuit Playground boards. CircuitPython provides a simplified and beginner-friendly approach to programming with a focus on interactive development. If you are new to microcontrollers or prefer an easy-to-use platform, CircuitPython is a great choice.

How to code with CircuitPython?

To code with CircuitPython, you simply need a text editor to write your code. You can use any code editor of your choice, such as Mu or Thonny. Once you have written your code, save it with a .py extension and copy it to your CircuitPython-enabled board. The code will automatically run and start interacting with the connected components.

Is CircuitPython compatible with MicroPython?

Yes, CircuitPython is compatible with MicroPython. Since CircuitPython is based on MicroPython, most of the code written for MicroPython should work with CircuitPython as well. However, there might be slight differences and additional features in CircuitPython, so it's always a good idea to refer to the CircuitPython documentation when working with CircuitPython-specific functionality.

Can I use CircuitPython with Arduino?

CircuitPython and Arduino are two separate platforms with their own programming languages and ecosystems. While they both provide ways to interact with electronic components, CircuitPython uses Python while Arduino uses a C++-based language. If you are already familiar with Arduino and prefer to work with it, you can continue using Arduino. However, if you are new to microcontrollers or prefer an easier programming language, CircuitPython might be a better choice.

Quick Tips and Facts

  • CircuitPython provides a beginner-friendly and interactive approach to coding with microcontrollers.
  • CircuitPython is based on Python, making it easy to learn and understand.
  • CircuitPython supports a wide range of microcontroller boards, including those from Adafruit, Arduino, and SparkFun.
  • CircuitPython libraries provide simplified and convenient interfaces for controlling various components and sensors.
  • CircuitPython allows for rapid prototyping and iteration, making it ideal for experimenting and learning.

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