Meet the BBC micro:bit
What is a micro:bit?
The BBC Micro Bit Initiative
In an effort to encourage children to get more involved in technology, not just as consumers, but as creators, and building on the legacy of the BBC Micro, BBC's Make It Digital campaign announced the Micro Bit (stylized to micro:bit) on March 12 2015 to be delivered to 1 million year 7 (11 and 12 year old) UK students.
On March 22 2016, the micro:bit was released commercially with a cost of around £12.6.
The micro:bit Board
This pocket-size programmable computer is intentionally limited in performance, but great in functionality and fun, and it comes packed with sensors and other cool features!
Let’s take a look at it’s specs:
Processor: 16MHz 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller
The ARM core has the capability to switch between 16 MHz or 32.768 kHz (this is the speed at witch the micro:bit runs).
Flash Memory: 256KB (this is the max size that a program can be)
- 2.4 GHz Bluetooth low energy (to interact with other Bluetooth devices)
- Radio (this allows you to connect multiple micro:bits and make them interact with each other!)
- MicroUSB connector (just like the one on your phone)
- Battery connector
Input and Output (I/O):
- 2 tactile pushbuttons + 1 reset button
- 5×5 red LED display
- 3 ring connectors + 1 power and 1 ground, which accept crocodile clips or 4mm banana plugs
- 23-pin edge connector
- 3-axis accelerometer sensor via I²C-bus (measures rotation and acceleration)
- 3-axis magnetometer sensor via I²C-bus (compass and metal detector)
- Temperature sensor (via the integrated CPU temperature sensor)
- Light sensor (by using the LEDs on the front as input)
What can I do with it?
Due to it being originally designed for education, it is mostly used in the classroom for science and engineering related projects.
With the micro:bit you can teach and learn electronics and coding (among other subjects), do electronics projects and experiments, such as home automation, an alarm system, build robots, control Bluetooth devices, make music, make art, and much, much more.
Check out these awesome projects:
Your imagination really is the limit here!
How do I use it?
Step 1 - Connect to computer via USB
If your project requires additional components, now is the moment to connect them to the board.
Don’t forget to plug the board to power (this includes USB) only AFTER you connect all the components to the board, otherwise, you might run into problems.
Step 2 - Combine some blocks to form a program
This step is also quite simple.
Open Microsoft MakeCode on your browser and create a new project.
Drag some blocks into the program space (that big empty area with a grayish background) to form a program.
Step 3 - Save the program to the micro:bit drive
When you plug the micro:bit to the computer, it will be recognized just like a pen-drive or an SD card.
When you finish building your program, click on the save button and save the .hex file to the MICROBIT drive.
Step 4 - Enjoy!
When the code finishes uploading, it will run immediately so you can see the results right away. How cool is that!?
The best part about this workflow is that we don’t need to install or configure anything!
How can I code it?
Officially, there are two code editors that you can use:
In addition to these two, there are other compatible third party code editors and IDEs:
There are other available editors that you can check out if you are interested in exploring the full ecosystem.
Some mobile apps also allow you to code a micro:bit from your phone. Pretty neat right!?
If you feel adventurous, there are other compatible programming languages you can try:
That’s all for this one 😉.
I hope you feel inspired to try out this awesome little board and have as much fun exploring it as I did.
Now get your micro:bit and Get Making!!!
If you enjoyed this article, make sure to share it with fellow makers and comment bellow what you think about this cute little microcontroller 👇.