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Party Light with Adafruit’s Circuit Playground

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The party light project is a simplified version of another project I have been working on that uses Adafruit’s Circuit Playground and its capacitive touch feature. This project has a number of features that make it well suited for new as well as seasoned hackers:

  • No soldering
  • Easy assembly
  • Open source (available on GitHub)

Perhaps the most unique feature of this project is the touch interface. Control of the light is done entirely by touching the top or bottom metal frame of the paper lantern. Turning the party light on and off, changing the party light’s color and dimming are all done by touch. The touch interface consists of either a short touch or long touch. When the light is off, a short touch will turn the light on. Repeated short touches will change the color. Six colors plus white can be selected in this manner. A long touch (touching the metal frame for several seconds) will either change the brightness of the light or turn it off. Letting go of the frame while the light is dimming will hold the light’s current brightness when switching colors using a short touch. A long touch when the light is dim will increase the brightness until it is full strength. To turn off the light, perform a long touch when the light is at full brightness until the light turns off.

Required Parts

These parts will be needed for the project:

The USB cable should be long enough to reach a wall outlet to the ceiling and down enough to hang the paper lantern. You can find long USB cables sold for Nest thermostats that will work well for this. A 15 foot or longer cable should be sufficient for most if you have an 8 or 10 foot ceiling height.

The source code for the party light is available on GitHub.

Warning: This project is for demonstration purposes only. Do not leave the party light turned on inside the lantern unattended. The Circuit Playground can get warm inside the paper lantern, and paper lanterns do not like heat.


  1. Download and compile the code on GitHub to the Circuit Playground.
  2. Assemble the paper lantern (see the instructions that came with the lantern).
  3. Plug the Circuit Playground into the end of the long USB cable.
  4. Attach an alligator clip to pin 0 of the Circuit Playground. If the alligator clip wire is too long, you can loop the wire around itself to keep it from hanging out from the bottom of the lantern.
  5. Attach the USB cable with the Circuit Playground to the lantern like you would a light cord. Warning: Make sure the Circuit Playground is in the center of the lantern and not touching the sides, as the Circuit Playground can get warm.
  6. Attach the other end of the alligator clip anywhere on the lantern’s interior frame so that it is hidden from view.
  7. Hang up the light, plugin the USB cord to a wall USB brick and get ready to party!

Other Ideas

Here are some ideas that I thought would be nice to incorporate at some point in the future.

  • Create a party light with changing colors ( use long touch to increase/decrease the speed of the color change).
  • Create a party light with a strobe effect ( use long touch to increase/decrease the strobe light effect).
  • Add double touch to turn off the light instead of needing a long touch to turn it off.