Adafruit's Latest QT Py BFF Offers CAN Bus Connectivity in a Compact Form Factor

Built around a Microchip MCP25625, this all-in-one add-on provides CAN connectivity at up to 1Mbps.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month agoHW101

Adafruit has launched its latest QT Py BFF add-on board, bringing the CAN bus to the company's compact microcontroller development boards — thanks to a Microchip MCP25625 CAN controller and transceiver chip.

"Our QT Py boards are a great way to make very small microcontroller projects that pack a ton of power — and now we have a way for you to turn many QT Py boards into powerful CAN bus devices that are super small," the company writes of its latest launch.

"CAN Bus is a small-scale networking standard," the company continues by way of background, "originally designed for cars and, yes, busses, but is now used for many robotics or sensor networks that need better range and addressing than I2C, and don't have the pins or computational ability to talk on Ethernet."

Adafruit unveiled its range of BFF add-ons for the QT Py boards back in January 2022, unveiling carrier boards that included a compact lithium polymer battery charging system and a less-compact handheld games console host. The CAN Bus BFF is on the smaller side of the spectrum, designed to offer CAN bus connectivity up to 1Mbps without bulking out the QT Py footprint too much.

The CAN Bus BFF can be used with QT Py or Seeed XIAO format boards, or with anything that can talk SPI. (📹: Adafruit)

The primary use of the CAN Bus BFF is, as you'd expect, as a backpack-style add-on to a QT Py development board — but that's not the only use-case. The board includes unpopulated 0.1" castellated pin headers for breadboard or surface-mount installation and can talk to almost any host microcontroller over an SPI interface. A JST PH socket provides solderless connectivity to the CAN bus itself.

The Adafruit CAN Bus BFF is available on the company store for $8.95 before volume discounts; more information is available in Liz Clark's guide to the board.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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