Make: "It's New to You" Bit

Welcome to the Hardware Track for #InventAnything. Today we will dig into the Hardware Development Kit , and work together to build your very first bit and get you familiar with bitLab.

Getting Started with Hardware

Welcome to the Hardware Track for #InventAnything. If you’re looking to dig in to your Hardware Development Kit, you’ve come to the right place. We know that digging in to a new hardware project can be a bit intimidating, so here are a few friendly resources to get you on your way.

Meet your new friend, the Proto module.

The proto module is what littleBits engineers use to build and prototype new modules. Hack into existing modules or invent a brand new one by connecting to printed circuit boards or solderless breadboards. With the proto module, you have direct access to power, ground and signal lines needed to take measurements and connect to other instruments.

Watch the video below for some ideas on how to get started with the proto module.

Getting Started littleBits Proto Module

HDK Tips and Tricks. Step-by-step instructions on using the Proto module, the Perf board and bitSnaps. Fashion input & output modules, best practices for using breadboards and measuring the draw of your circuit.

Design Challenge

What is your favorite bit made of?

  1. Take your favorite littleBit (@chloeatplay’s is the wire, @vanessa’s is random) and re-create it using materials from your Hardware Development Kit: your nifty Proto bit, breadboard and bitSnaps.
  2. Shoot a short video walking us through:
  • which steps you took
  • what surprised you
  • your finished product :smile:
  1. Post your project-in-process below!

The bitLab

The bitLab™ is putting the power of making electronics in the hands of everyone. If you have an idea you can submit a module. If you see a module you like, you can vote for it.

Ideas, Inspiration and Support

The Touch Sensor

The touch sensor is a powerful capacitive proximity sensor that sends a signal to the attached Bits as you physically approach it. The closer you get, the higher the voltage it sends out. Use an alligator lead with one end attached to the gold electrode on the touch sensor, then connect the other end to something conductive like tin foil, conductive foam, or even paint a square of Electric Paint. Once turned on, the touch sensor will automatically calibrate the material to create a custom capacitive sensor off of the module. Fine tune your proximity range using the included screwdriver and use it to detect a cookie thief with the Buzzer or have hands-free control of the Oscillator from the Synth Kit to drive some sweet audio!


This module is a 3-axis accelerometer and gyroscope. There is a 2 position slide switch to change between modes. For now, the design has “slope mode” and “tap mode” which are both shown in the YouTube video. I plan on implementing a “revolve” mode and “E=mgh” mode as well.

The Oscilloscope

The Oscilloscope Module (or ScopeBit) is a small output module that displays the waveform of the signal going through it. It is based on the popular Xprotolab oscilloscope:
The Oscilloscope Module is a one-channel oscilloscope with an input range of 0 to 5V and a maximum sampling rate of 2 Mega Samples / second.

Adafruit’s Tasty Hardware for bit’Spiration

Your Fellow bitsters

Maddy Maxey and Mari Kussman, The Crated

Maddy Maxey and Mari Kussman of The Crated love a good excuse to play with technology. They focus on developing wearable tech and enhanced apparel at The Crated, a New York-based product design studio.

They made the Tilt bit which we love!

Jude, @JackANDJude

Make bits react to color! Put red candy in YOUR bowl. Make sweet synth-tastic sounds with COLOR. Yeah, you can do that without any programming. The color sensor works great with crayons AND craft paint, plus a whole bunch of other stuff you already have around the house. Jack and I both make paintings, and this color sensor the result of a mash-up of our interests in color and technology.

@JackANDJude’s project is open for voting now–give it some lovesauce!

Share your Project

Post photos or video of your bit-in-progress below. Make sure in your upload, you model a “reflective design process” and include:

  • The specific bits you used in the project
  • Reflect on what did you do 1st, 2nd and 3rd
  • List the resources you consulted to help others in the future

Remember this is a community who loves sharing work in progress :slight_smile: Don’t be shy to share your piece even if it is not finished yet and ask in the Project Buzz category in the forum for help.

Next Steps

1.2 Discuss: Does Open Source Cramp the Imagination?
1.3 Join the Weekly Community Call

Hi, everyone! During today’s 12EST unhangout (and at the unofficial afterhangout) @anmol1771 and @ludvikherrera expressed some interest in inventing new bits, and I am encouraging them and anyone else interested to begin with simple bits that already exist before moving on to complex bits. Keep making the simple bits on your breadboard or perfboard until you are ready for more difficult bits, and then keep learning and inventing. You can make slight alterations to simple bits right away, as you like. It’s all up to you!

To begin, @anmol1771 has chosen to recreate the long led. Start by looking at the published littleBits schematics , and drill down through OUTPUT > Long LED > (rev 2) > *.pdf > click on “View Raw”. That will help you get used to the github environment so you can find other bits’ pdf schematics. The .brd and .sch files are for Eagle CAD users, which you can download for free if you like. Eagle CAD is not necessary for you yet, @anmol1771 to learn how to read a schematic. For now let’s just keep it simple.

For anyone who is still with me after that, please show that you are following along by replying with a zoomed in screen shot of the long led schematic. Once the first person has done that, next people can chime in by replying with what discrete component they can identify in the schematic. Here is a Wiki guide to electronic symbols.

We’re all in this together, so jump in at any time!


Long LED schematics

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O2R1 is a 1k resister

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@Kadin907 Super! If you have (or anyone else has) a 1k resistor, please take a picture of it close up so everyone can see the colors. You might need to Google “Resistor color code guide” to figure it out, and maybe a crafty somebody can make a resistor color code guide for us to use in house. Maybe a wheel you spin like the color wheel from art class… Anybody wanna partner with me to design a crafty color wheel?

The pinout numbers are different for the LM741, so I sketched up a new diagram.


So there are two main types of resistors that I work with.

-The first is a standard resistor that can be soldered onto perf board or used in a breadboard.

-The second is a surface mounted resistor that I use when cutting and soldering my own circuits at the Anchorage Fab Lab.

The two types of resisters do the same exact thing, the only difference is mounting style.

I’d love to try etching at home and using smd components to make my color sensor as small as a bit.

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Ya I’ve cut a few boards that were designed in eagle, they are really something but very difficult to solder. The latest board I made is a FabISP

I made this “Resistor Color Wheel” with cardstock, crayons, pencil, compass, protractor, hole punch, a paperclip, a bead, and a staple.

It’s fun and helpful. :smile: :rainbow:


Hi there. I will join as soon as I get my HDK.


Sweet, need more people. :smiley:

Okey dokey, folks. I put together a video showing how to assemble a long led module on a breadboard with the following parts:

741 op amp chip, 1K Resistor, 1M Resistor, jumper wires, breadboard, 5mm high brightness white LED (Radio Shack part # 276-0017), proto Module


Anybody want to make another bit (vicariously or yourself or with the group)?

@anmol1771, @Kadin907, @ludvikherrera, @alexpikkert, @matthiasmwolf, @joey, @ClanScorpia

What bit do want to make or explore?

Do you have any tips or tools you want to share for bit-makers?


Hey Jude,

It’s funny you should ask this question as I’m working on something that I think is pretty cool and making progress. It’s not quite ready for showtime yet but when it is (fairly soon I think) I would love to talk to you about a bit possibility as it relates to my project. Are YOU interested in creating another bit? Or to ask another way, are you chomping at the bit to make another bit? (sorry…)

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Yes, @joey I always want to make another bit (blame @ayah_littleBits :slight_smile: ) , and I’d be happy to learn more about your idea when you’re ready. :racehorse: :bitstar:

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Ok. Give me another week to complete some stuff on my end and then I’ll show you what I’ve been working on. It would be fun to explore this with you and see if its something that you would like to work on with me. Working on prototypes now :smile:

Thanks @JackANDJude for the invitation to the forums and for the idea to share my bit that’s up for voting in the BitLab. If anyone is interested in a water detection module check out the WaterBit in the Bitlab.

Here’s a Project showing how you can use the WaterBit to Detect water and automatically trigger the FanBit to dry itself.


Hi, thanks for the invitation to think about new bits !
I am currently working on a funny project where the pressure sensor plays a major role.
I will publish this project as soon as it is fully operational.
I designed it step by step and I found out that the pressure sensor was not accurate enough in my project. I wanted to use it as a weight sensor, connected to the Arduino.
The output voltage varies a lot when placing the same objects on its surface, it looks to me it depends on the time of day and the weather…
Do you maybe have some suggestions how to make this pressure sensor more accurate?
I tried the following already:

. Putting a liitle metal ring on the sensor so it bends a little more
. On the Arduino it gives an output from 0 to 1023, I divided the outcome by 10 before using it further in the program
. I put a “preweight” on the sensor before actually using it

So maybe I need a real stable weight sensor with a linear output from grams to volt…
I really hope you can help me on this subject…

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