Maker Toolkit and Circuit Playground Support

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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 Physical Computing unit 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.

Windows:

Chrome OS v89 and below:

Chrome OS v90 and above:

Mac OS:

  • Standalone Code.org 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 Using the Maker App:

  1. Install the standalone Code.org Maker app. Get the latest download link for the app from here
  2. Open up the Code.org Maker app and sign in to Code.org 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 Code.org Maker App.
  4. Not working? Check out our section on "Debugging common issues" below. 

Windows / Mac OS Using Chrome or Edge Browsers:

The Circuit Playground can connect directly to computers using Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers released after 2021.

  1. Connect your circuit playground to your computer
  2. Press the “Connect to Board” button below
  3. A window should pop up with a row that says “Circuit Playground”. Select that row, then click Connect
  4. The circuit playground should beep and you should see several green checkmarks below

If you have any issues, please refer to our WebSerial Support Article.

Chrome OS v89 and below on Chromebooks:

  1. Install the Code.org 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."

Chrome OS v90 and above on Chromebooks:

The Circuit Playground can connect directly to these Chromebooks without any additional software.

  1. Connect your circuit playground to your computer
  2. Press the “Connect to Board” button below
  3. A window should pop up with a row that says “Circuit Playground”. Select that row, then click Connect
  4. The circuit playground should beep and you should see several green checkmarks below

If you have any issues, please refer to our WebSerial Support Article.

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

Please see Installing the Code.org Maker App to a Group of Computers

How do I enable Maker Toolkit in App Lab?

Maker Toolkit should already be enabled on relevant Code.org 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."
    Screen_Shot_2021-04-02_at_8.34.04_AM.png
  4. Click "Enable" in the warning dialog that pops up:
    Screen_Shot_2021-04-02_at_8.33.57_AM.png
  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. 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.
  2. 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 Code.org 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:

Screen_Shot_2021-04-02_at_9.20.05_AM.png

  • 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:

Screen_Shot_2021-04-02_at_9.17.56_AM.png

If Prompted to Connect to a Serial Port

If a popup appears when you click "Run" that says "studio.code.org wants to connect to a serial port", this is due to a new feature that allows certain browsers to connect to Circuit Playground boards without requiring any additional installations. If you see this popup, it's prompting you to select a board to connect to. If you select a board from the list and click “Connect”, that browser tab will be connected to the board.

circuit-playground.gif

If you are still running into problems, email us at support@code.org!

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