BBC Micro:Bit Board is Now Getting into the Hands of British Students

After several delays, BBC is now giving free Micro:Bit Bluetooth LE enabled boards to UK students with the goal of getting them interested in coding and electronics in a way that’s even easier and cheaper than using a Raspberry Pi board.

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Micro:bit specifications:

  • MCU – Nordic nRF51822 Bluetooth SoC based on Cortex M0 core @ 16MHz with 16KB RAM
  • 2x user buttons, 1x reset button
  • 25x red user LEDs  in a 5×5 matrix
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth LE
  • Sensors – Compass, magnetometer, accelerometer
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for port and programming
  • Expansion – 20-pin edge connector, 5x “rings” for 3V, GND, and 3 digital/analog I/Os
  • Power – 5V via USB or battery port to connect two AAA batteries
  • Dimensions – 4cm x 5cm

There are four ways to “code” the board: Code Kingdoms JavaScript  graphical ‘drag and drop’ and text-based programming, Microsoft Block Editor graphical, drag and drop code editor, Microsoft Touch Developer text-based programming language, and Python. I was unclear on how they’d use the rings, until I found this picture showing crocodile clips connected to the board, and Kitronic has made add-ons boards and kits using the 20-pin edge connector.

Micro-bit_crocodile_batteryThere’s currently now way to buy one of those yourself, but if you have kids in the UK, the BBC is giving the board directly to young students, i.e. they don’t belong to the schools, so you might be able to play with it at home. According to BBC News, some people have complained that the board can come to late for teachers to integrate them in the curriculum before the end of the school year, so we’ll have to see how it turns out. Some projects have already been showcased with a school sending a micro:bit at the edge of space.

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