Circuit Playground Button

Announcing Microsoft MakeCode for Circuit Playground Express

Posted May 19th, 2017

The Microsoft MakeCode team is proud to announce a great partnership with our good friends over at Adafruit Industries. Over the last several months we have been working together on a new Educational physical computing experience using Microsoft MakeCode with a new version of the Circuit Playground board, called Circuit Playground Express.

This new board carries over all the goodness of Circuit Playground Classic – small size, round shape, colored NeoPixels, etc. but packs in even more sensors (as if that were possible?! Ladyada is a genius), a more powerful processor, and uses the MakeCode magic to allow easy drag and drop programming from a browser.

Using either the visual block-based editor, or the JavaScript editor in Microsoft MakeCode, students can build programs to create custom animations, sounds, and use sensor events like “On Shake” to react to external stimulus.

Here are a few of the cool features available:


The Circuit Playground Express is a beautiful board, mostly due to those 10 gorgeous, brightly colored NeoPixels. Using Microsoft MakeCode, students can use the built-in animations like Rainbow or Sparkle to animate their Circuit Playground Express. Or, they can design their own animations using the Show Ring block to select colors.

Animation screenshot

Logo on Circuit Playground

The Logo programming language) was one of the first educational tools for Computer Science and gained popularity for its “Turtle graphics” which allowed students to program designs using an on-screen cursor. The Photon blocks in Microsoft MakeCode allows students to create similar designs an animations using the Circuit Playground Express NeoPixels.

Photon screenshot

Beep, Buzz, Bing!

One of the most engaging things for students doing physical computing is using audio and sounds. With the on-board speaker and microphone on the Circuit Playground Express, students will have a blast programming their own music, or using some of the built-in sounds – and they’ll enjoy annoying grownups and siblings everywhere!

Music screenshot

Sensors, Sensors everywhere

One of the great things about Microsoft MakeCode is the event-driven programming model, which provides built-in events for sensor data, so students don’t have to worry about constantly polling for information. The Magic Wand project is 5 blocks of code – it uses the Circuit Playground Express’s motion sensor to detect movement an then plays a sound and animation.

Wand screenshot

Look Ma, no drivers!

One of the things teachers will appreciate the most about this solution is that no installation is required. Students can program in the browser, plug in their Circuit Playground Express to the USB port, and drag and drop their program files. No muss, no fuss.

Download screenshot


Students can share their programs with each other or with their Teachers via an anonymous URL.

Share screenshot

More info

For more information, or to order the Circuit Playground Express, please see Adafruit’s website –

To start programming your Circuit Playground, jump into

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more project walkthroughs using Microsoft MakeCode for Circuit Playground Express.

And please let us know your thoughts by filling out our feedback form.

Have fun Making Code for Minecraft!

- MakeCode Team

PS - This is a Beta release, there are some features that we are still working on which will be coming shortly, such as support for for the Infrared receiver and transmitter.

PPS - We will be down at Maker Faire Bay Area this weekend building Circuit Playground Express Magic Wands, and raffling off some Circuit Playground Express boards with our friends at Hackster. Please come by and say Hi if you’ll be there, and follow us on Twitter for the giveaway details!