The Feather boards are the brains of your project, we took a closer look at the different models in our Birds of Feather article, check that out first (especially if you have no idea what the difference is between a feather and a wing). You can plug them straight into your breadboard and interface with all the features that come along with your microcontroller!
Arduino boards have Shields, modules that stack on top of the IO pins to add certain functionality to your microcontroller. They come in all different types; Wi-Fi shields, motor driver shields, servo shields, LCD shields. If it’s a typical circuit you build and attach to your Arduino, there’s likely a Shield for it that you can simply stack onto your Arduino. They use certain pins and provide the unused pins via the pin headers, allowing for you to interface with them. Well, the good news is, Adafruit have included this stackable option into ‘shields’ for the Feather boards. We call them FeatherWings.
There are over 50 different FeatherWings available at the time of writing this article, with Adafruit always adding more to the range. They have the same form factor as the Feather boards and come with some pin headers you’ll need to solder onto your wing. From there, Adafruit has provided every board with a library; enabling you to interface with and use the Wings in your project extremely easily! It’s quite simple, you stack it onto your Feather, import the library and get going with your project.
Although there are so many options to choose from, let’s look at some of the standout options when it comes to FeatherWings.
This wing from Adafruit gives you the option of adding a fully functional OLED display for data readings on top of your Feather. It only uses two wires for I2C, meaning all the other pins are available for you to use.
All you’ll need is to import the SSD1306 library which you can find on GitHub or through the Arduino Library manager. Once you have that, you can choose whatever you’d like to display and show it on your screen.
Almost any project you do will benefit from this added display; it only uses two pins too, so it will not limit your project in any way.
This Wing offers your Feather the capability to know exactly where in the world it is located! The module can also keep track of the time once it has synchronised with the satellites. Built on the MTK3339 GPS chip that can exchange location data with 22 satellites around the world. The module is a carefully considered option from Adafruit, providing you with a low-power, high-quality GPS module for your portable projects.
To get going with this wing, you’ll need to download Adafruit’s GPS library and import it at the beginning of your code. The library then manages to parse the NMEA sentences from the module in a background interrupt, so your main code won’t take a delay. You can just query the dataset passed from the module after it has begun parsing.
This wing from Adafruit gives you the ability to control high-load circuits with your Feather board! It has a non-latching relay that can control up to 250VAC (or DC) power loads, with this relay rated at 1200 Watts. If you teamed this relay up with the Bluefruit App and a Feather, you would have remote control of household appliances (if you know what you are doing with mains power!).
To select which of your pins control the relay, you will need to bridge two of the pads on the board with solder. The pad you solder will correlate to a certain pin; giving this Wing fantastic compatibility with existing Wings. A great addition for anyone looking to utilize the power of the Feather ecosystem for IoT inventions!
Wings go on top of Feathers, now what?
Now that we have gotten a good understanding of the Feather ecosystem and how it all meshes together; we are going to tackle a ‘Hello World” project using a Feather/Wing Combination. Check out that tutorial here!