Maker Toolkit and Circuit Playground Setup Support


This article is intended to help answer frequently asked questions about using Maker Toolkit!

What is the Maker Toolkit?

Maker Toolkit is an add-on on top of App Lab, our block-to-text app development environment. Maker Toolkit provides of a special set of commands that allow student apps to communicate with external hardware. Maker Toolkit is currently optimized to work with the Adafruit Circuit Playground. CS Discoveries Unit 6 involves the use of this Circuit Playground board, and the standalone Maker App

What is the Adafruit Circuit Playground?

The Circuit Playground is a small microcontroller board with LEDs, buttons, and sensors built in. Based on the popular Arduino platform, the Circuit Playground enables students to get up and running quickly with physical computing without many of the traditional barriers to entry. You can read more about it on our Circuit Playground page here.

What are the software requirements for Maker Toolkit?

The Maker Toolkit is currently supported on Windows, Chrome OS, and Mac OS. There are slightly different software requirements depending on which OS you are using.


Chrome OS:

Mac OS:

  • Standalone Maker App (Latest download link available here).

How do I set up Maker Toolkit or the Maker App on my computer?

You can find the streamlined instructions to set up Maker Toolkit for your browser on the Maker Toolkit setup page. We have also provided the instructions below.

Windows / Mac OS:

  1. Install the standalone Maker app. Get the latest download link for the app from here
  2. Open up the Maker app and sign in to as you normally would on your browser.
  3. Plug in your Circuit Playground board. You should now be ready to use Maker Toolkit with App Lab within the Maker App.
  4. Not working? Check out our section on "Debugging common issues" below. 

Chrome OS on Chromebooks:

  1. Install the Serial Connector Chrome App extension.
  2. Plug in your Circuit Playground board. You should now be ready to use Maker Toolkit with App Lab within Google Chrome.
  3. If a dialog asking for permission for Code Studio to connect to the Chrome App pops up, click Accept.
  4. Not working? Check out our section on "Debugging common issues."

How can I install Maker App for a group of school computers? 

We support a few approaches for installing Maker App to a group of computers on a school network.

Here's our MSI package. Windows network administrators may find this is the easiest approach to deploy to computers on a network. The Windows Installer can be used to install for all users. Please note that auto-updates are disabled when the app is installed via MSI.

Example Windows Installer Command:

msiexec /i "C:\example.msi" ALLUSERS=1 /qn
  • /i Specifies the .msi file that Setup.exe is to install
  • ALLUSERS property value of 1 specifies the per-machine installation context

Another approach is a silent install using the Nullsoft (NSIS) installer and the .exe we've provided on the Make App setup page.  You can read more about the installation options in the NullSoft manual in chapter 3 (Installer Usage), chapter 4 (Silent Installers), and has multi user environment info here

Example NSIS Installer Command:

example.exe /S /D="C:\Program Files\Example App"
  • /S puts the installer in "silent" mode for unattended install
  • /D=<directory> lets you specify an install directory from the command line

How do I enable Maker Toolkit in App Lab?

Maker Toolkit should already be enabled on relevant lessons. To enable it within a standalone App Lab project, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the App Lab project you want to use or create a new one.
  2. Click on the settings gear icon on the purple Toolbox header:
  3. Click "Enable Maker Toolkit."
  4. Click "Enable" in the warning dialog that pops up:
  5. You will know that Maker Toolkit is enabled if you two new categories in your toolbox called "Maker" and "Circuit." 

If you decide that you want to disable Maker Toolkit, follow steps 2-3 above (except that the menu will say "Disable Maker Toolkit" instead).

Debugging common issues

If something seems to not be working on the App Lab webpage, try the following steps to work around issues that come up:

  1. Try refreshing the App Lab webpage.
  2. Try un-plugging and re-plugging the board, and refreshing the webpage.
  3. Double check that you followed all of the computer setup steps.
  4. Visit the Maker Toolkit setup page and make sure all the steps are lighting up as green (e.g. your board is showing up as connectable). Here’s how to get to the page:
    • Windows / Mac OS: Click on the setup icon in the menu from the Maker Toolkit app:
    • Chrome OS: Navigate to this page.
  5. Check the list of common mistakes below.

Here are a list of common mistakes that lead to issues with connecting to Maker Toolkit:

  1. (Windows / Mac OS only): Make sure you are using CS Discoveries Unit 6 within the Maker App, not in a normal browser.
    • If you are using Windows / Mac OS, make sure you are not trying to use Maker Toolkit in your regular browser. We currently only support Maker Toolkit within the standalone Maker Toolkit app on these platforms.
  2. Having trouble connecting or having your board detected in the Maker App? Revisit the maker Setup page, and the 4-step connection test process (with up to 4 possible green checkmarks vs. red X's) 
    • If the first checkmark is green, but “Board plugged in” is red: they have a connection issue between the board and their computer. Try a different USB port, different USB cable, or different Circuit Playground board, or all of the above if possible.
    • If the first two checkmarks are green, but “Board connectable” is red: we’re able to identify the board, but the board isn’t responding like a Circuit Playground with the Firmata firmware. You will need update the board’s firmware, after determining whether you are using an Express or Classic model board.
  3. Not getting a code to enter when trying to Log in with Google
    • If you are clicking on the "Log in with Google" button in the top panel within the Maker App, make sure you first sign out completely from in whichever browser(s) you have open on your computer. Then, click on that Log in with Google button again within the Maker App. You should then see this screen:


  • Click on "Confirm", then you'll be asked to select and log in with a Google account of yours. You will then see a screen like this, with a code you can copy/paste to enter back on the Maker App:



If you are still running into problems, email us at!

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