[CentralOH] [Central OH] Additional details concerning the Circuit Playground Express

Damien Calloway damiencalloway at fastmail.com
Wed Aug 1 00:04:58 EDT 2018

Hello all !

Monday, we had a really cool demonstration and overview of the Adafruit
Circuit Playground Express by Neil. For those of you who did not make it
to the PyOhio class, his presentation was distilled from that. I had
some trouble getting my board to cooperate, but there was some time
earlier today where I was able to figure it out.
Some details I learned : 

1) Are you a Windows enthusiast ? You must install drivers first.

That is a  bundle of all of the drivers needed for Adafruit boards - run
it as Administrator.
The installer will have the first three of five checkboxes checked by
default. On a Windows device I was able to confirm that the default
choices are correct - do not uncheck the middle two boxes, or serial and
bootloading will not totally work.
2) Are you a Linux enthusiast ? Make sure your account is added to the
   uucp group (Debian/Linux Mint; other distros use dialup for the same
   thing). Otherwise, you will not be able to totally get into the board
3) I mistakenly thought that serial communication was needed to load
   programs onto the board. That is true for the BBC Microbit, but not
   for the Circuit Playground Express. You can literally drag and drop
   things onto the board, and save them from your editor of choice.
4) Speaking of which : I understand why Kattni told everyone to use Mu -
   it is super basic and goof-proof - but it does not remove hard tabs.
   Obviously, it would not have mattered if people were typing along
   with her during the class, but it does account for the root cause of
   the difficulty I had Monday night.
When following her instructions to update the firmware, the code.py file
that executes is replaced by a main.py - this does not run the demo,
even after you change the name to code.py, because at some point in the
process, hard tabs were introduced into the code listing, and Mu could
not strip them out.
Thonny can, however, and I was able to get the demo running again by
loading it then saving it back out. https://thonny.org/
Remember, even if hard tabs are set to four spaces, they are still tabs,
and the extra invisible characters will cause Python to fail/throw
exceptions/generally misbehave - even though you see the right amount of
4a) If you want your code to run on the board, you must rename the
Python file to code.py - this will autoexecute on boot.
5) Literally today, in the wee hours of the morning, the Circuit Express
   Playground library was updated to match the firmware version 3.0 :

https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit_CircuitPython_Bundle/releases/tag/20180731 <-- this has the bundles containing all of the things - if you followed the firmware update instructions given at the presentation, the link you want is the "3.x" link :
Once unzipped, you can literally just drag and drop this folder onto the
existing lib folder on the board and overwrite everything - there will
still be ~1.2 MB of free space left over.
I really appreciate learning that the board had both wav playback and
two buttons - now I can finish my Pomodoro timer project !
6) In case I forget - there is a dojo meeting every Thursday night from
   ~6p-9p at the Smokehouse Brewing Company :

1130 Dublin Road Columbus, Ohio 43215

Thanks again to Neil, Kattni, and Pillar for hosting. 

Oh, and RSVP here for the next monthly meeting - but only if you like
pizza : https://www.meetup.com/Central-Ohio-Python-Users-Group/
- Damien Calloway

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