beanz Magazine

What’s a micro:bit?

micro:bit Foundation

The micro:bit is a not too expensive board that lets you easily build projects to learn about computing.

What will you need for this project?

  • Any computer with an Internet connection
  • A micro:bit (http://microbit.org/resellers/)
  • Some headphones
  • 5 x Crocodile clips
  • A 10k potentiometer
  • An LED

All of the code for this project as well as circuit diagrams can be found at https://github.com/lesp/KidsCodeCS-microbit/archive/master.zip

Introduction

The micro:bit was released in 2016 as a low cost micro-controller board for children in the United Kingdom to learn the basics of coding. Over 1 million units were given to children starting their first year of high school, and teachers were encouraged to use the boards to open up new possibilities in lessons.

The board is nowhere near as powerful as a Raspberry Pi, not even the Pi Zero. Rather this is a small board akin to an Arduino. It has a 16Mhz ARM processor, 16Kb of RAM and 256Kb of flash memory to store your code. Code is written using an online editor, in various languages more on that later, and then copied to the micro:bit which appears as a USB flash drive.

So while the micro:bit may not be a powerhouse, it has a built in range of sensors and connectivity that we can use in our projects. It comes with Bluetooth and a radio to send packets of data over a short range radio network. There is also a built in accelerometer to determine how the micro:bit is being held enabling basic gesture control. We have a compass, a temperature sensor, a 5 x 5 LED matrix and 2 buttons.

The GPIO, General Purpose Input Output pins are a series of 5 holes in the lower part of the board. Number 0,1,2 and 3V, GND these pins can be connected using crocodile clips. The smaller pins between each hole are further GPIO pins which require an adapter board.

In this tutorial we shall create 3 projects that utilise the different sensors and inputs of the micro:bit.

 

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