The Circuit Playground Express is a fine little board for prototyping your coolest ideas in Python! From wearable e-textiles, through to robots and displays, simple setup and transfer of your code gets you started quickly.
Previously, the Circuit Playground Classic was programmed with Arduino, which is based on C programming, and although very capable, is not quite as quick and easy as Python. Well, the Circuit Playground Express is the same idea, but with a faster (48MHz) SAMD ARM M0 microcontroller that offers enough grunt to be able to comfortably run Adafruit’s Circuit Python (a fork of microPython that is well-supported by Adafruit and contributors).
For younger budding engineers, there’s also support for Microsoft’s MakeCode, which allows drag and drop programming much like the BBC micro:bit. And you can still program it in Arduino for those projects that require more low-level hacking and control.
With features that include a build-in speaker and microphone, multi-coloured programmable LEDs, capacitive touch, buttons, slider switch, infrared, and the ability and support to connect to loads of other devices, the Circuit Playground Express is a great start for bringing your ideas to life.
You can find more information about Circuit Python, and devices that run it, here: https://github.com/adafruit/circuitpython
There’s also Circuit Python programming documentation here: http://circuitpython.readthedocs.io/en/latest/index.html
You can see lots of the supported external device drivers here: https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit_CircuitPython_Bundle/tree/master/libraries/drivers
See Adafruit's fantastic showcase of Circuit Playground projects here: https://learn.adafruit.com/category/circuit-playground
On top of running Circuit Python, it comes with a great bootloader running on the device, that makes transferring your Circuit Python scripts, audio or image files, as easy as dragging them across to the device.
Need some new firmware? Just press a button to put the device into a different mode, and drag that across too.
Since the Circuit Playground Express doesn’t run a full operating system, it’s still quite quick and snappy, and Circuit Python has lots of libraries to interface with other devices. You can start writing Python right away, without having to worry about setting up an operating system or storage media.
Adafruit has created an excellent diagram to show all the interfaces:
There’s other devices from Adafruit that use the SAMD microcontroller, and so allow CircuitPython to run; most have ‘M0’ at the end of their names. For smaller wearable/sewable e-textiles projects, the Gemma M0, is a smaller, compact version that also runs Circuit Python.