Using Pico:ed V2 board as a replacement for BBC Micro:bit

Pico:ed V2 BBC Micro:bit Alternative

We’ve received a sample of the Pico:ed V2 board developed by ELECFREAKS and will show how to use it as a replacement for the BBC micro:bit in a project using CircuitPython. We’ve already covered the board in detail with specifications, block diagram, and pinout diagram before, and it’s basically a Raspberry Pi Pico RP2040 board with BBC Micro:bit form factor including a 17×7 Dot Matrix LED display, some buttons, a buzzer, but no wireless connectivity, relying only on USB instead. CircuitPython firmware installation on the Pico:ed V2 board The board supports C/C++, MicroPython, and CircuitPython programming languages, and for this review, we’ve decided to download the CircuitPython UF2 firmware. Press and hold the BOOTSEL button after having downloaded the firmware file… … and connect the board to your computer using a USB cable before releasing the BOOSEL button on the Pico:ed V2 board, which should then show up as the […]

Review of micro:bit XGO Robot Kit – An educational robot dog with a Bluetooth joystick

ELECFREAKS micro:bit XGO Robot Kit is a robotic dog designed for robotics education. It moves realistically and acts like a real pet dog, and can help teach various technology concepts related to mechanical engineering, electronics, programming, and artificial intelligence (AI). The kit support both the BBC Micro:bit V1 and V2 boards which can be programmed with Microsoft MakeCode, Python, the Arduino IDE, and other languages. The XGO robot is compact and can be easily used on a desk or table. The robot is made of aluminum metal coated with a beautiful anodized finish. Each leg has 12 high-quality digital servos moving each joint, 3 on each side, totaling 12, helping the robot dog to move smoothly and flexibly. The robot can be controlled with apps, a joystick, and up to 19 ready-made postures, such as holding hands, looking for food, sitting down, squatting, etc… Content of the XGO robot kit: […]

MicroBlocks is a visual programming IDE for 32-bit microcontrollers

MicroBlocks is a visual programming IDE for 32-bit microcontrollers currently supporting the BBC Micro:bit V1/V2, Calliope mini (aka the German Micro:bit), Adafruit Circuit Playground Express and Bluefruit, Raspberry Pi Pico and Pico W, and various other boards including ESP32 and ESP8266-based boards. I discovered MicroBlocks in the list of talks for FOSDEM 2023, and although it did not make it to my virtual schedule, I thought it was interesting to look into and write about it. In their upcoming FOSDEM talk, Bernat Romagosa and Kathy Giori refer to MicroBlocks as small, fast, and human-friendly with development guided by four guiding principles: liveness, parallelism, portability, and autonomy. The IDE is inspired by Scratch, and as such, looks very similar to other visual programming interfaces I have used over the years. You can launch MicroBlocks from Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge on a PC (not a mobile device) without having to install […]

Banana BPI-Bit-S2 BBC Micro:bit compatible board supports WiFi

Banana BPI-Bit-S2 is a board for the education market that’s compatible with the BBC Micro:bit V2, but offers WiFi connectivity instead of Bluetooth LE through an Espressif Systems ESP32-S2 wireless microcontroller. The BPI-Bit-S2 succeeds the earlier Banana Pi BPI-Bit with ESP32 WiFi & BLE microcontroller that was a closer match to the original BBC Micro:bit than the new ESP32-S2 board for which I see little benefit, except for the slightly lower price tag. Banana BPI-Bit-S2 specifications: Wireless MCU – Espressif Systems ESP32-S2FN4R2 single core LX7 microcontroller with 320 kB SRAM, 2MB PSRAM, 4MB flash, 2.4 GHz WiFi connectivity LEDs – 25x RGB LED matrix USB – 1x USB Type-C port for power and programming Sensors – 2x light sensors, 1x thermistor sensor Expansion – 3x I/O rings, 3V/GND rings, 20-pin edge connector (compatible with BBC Micro:bit V2 design) with up to 16x GPIO, I2C, SPI, 3.3V, and GND Misc – […]

Olimex AgonLight2 8-bit open-source hardware computer sells for 50 Euros

Olimex has started to take pre-orders for the AgonLight2, a customized version of the Agon Light 8-bit open-source hardware computer based on the Z80 family and running BBC Basic. Bernardo Kastrup and Dean Belfield created the Agon light 8-bit retro computer with VGA and PS2 keyboard port and programmable with BASIC earlier this year and released all hardware design files, the firmware, and documentation on GitHub, and Dean uploaded a one-hour-long video on YouTube. It was designed with EasyEDA, but Olimex re-captured the design in KiCad after getting customer requests, and the new cost-optimized board named AgonLight2 will start shipping by the end of January 2023. AgonLight2 specifications: MCU – Zilog eZ80F92 8-bit microcontroller @ 18.423 MHz with 128 KB flash, 256 bytes configuration Flash memory, 8 KB SRAM (See PDF datasheet for details) System Memory – 512KB, 10ns, parallel SRAM Storage – MicroSD card socket Terminal subsystem MCU – […]

UniHiker education platform teaches STEM with Mind+ and Jupyter (in China)

DFRobot UniHiker is a STEM education platform with a 2.8-inch touchscreen display, a Rockchip RK3308 quad-core Cortex-A35 processor, a GD32V RISC-V microcontroller, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as various headers for expansion, and a BBC Micro:bit compatible edge connector. The UniHiker runs Debian 10 Linux and can be used to teach programming using Mind+ visual programming IDE or Jupyter open-source interface, as well as IoT and AI basics thanks to tutorials and lessons available in Chinese only as the platform clearly targets the education market in mainland China at this point in time.   Unihiker specifications: SoC – Rockchip RK3308 Quad-core Arm Cortex-A35 processor @ 1.2GHz with MCU – Gigadevice GD32VF103C8T6 RISC-V microcontroller @ 108MHz with 64KB flash, 32KB SRAM System Memory – 512MB DDR3 Storage – 16GB eMMC flash, MicroSD card socket Display – 2.8-inch touchscreen color display with 320×240 resolution Connectivity – 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi & Bluetooth […]

The BBC has released a new web-based Python editor for the micro:bit board

There are already Python editors such as Thonny, but the BBC thought those were not good enough and released a new web-based Python editor specifically designed for the micro:bit education board targeting 11 to 14 years old pupils. The micro:bit Python editor includes drag and drop code examples, code structure & error highlighting, auto-complete feature, a simulator to test the code before uploading it to the micro:bit board, and a Quick ideas section to help pupils get started with projects. The BBC’s micro:bit Python editor works with both the micro:bit V1 and V2, but note the simulator shows a micro:bit V2, so if you are using the previous generation micro:bit, some code may work on the simulator but not on your micro:bit V2 board. For that reason, the BBC marked the code that only works on a micro:bit V2 with ‘V2’ in the Reference section.  While the BCC is a […]

Raspberry Pi RP2040 gets into BBC Micro:bit lookalike board

ELECFREAKS Pico:ed V2 is a Raspberry Pi RP2040 board heavily inspired by the BBC Micro:bit with an edge connector exposing rings suitable for crocodile clips, a 17×7 LED matrix display, and designed for the classroom. We’ve seen several BBC Micro:bit clones – or rather adaptations – over the years with boards such as the SiFive Learn Inventor, Elecrow Mbits, and  HiHope “Big Brother” board. The Pico:ed V2 adds to the list, and the main differences are that it is based on the Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller instead, and does not come with wireless connectivity relying on a USB interface only. ELECFREAKS Pico:ed V2 specifications: MCU – Raspberry Pi RP2040 dual-core Cortex-M0+ microcontroller @ up to 133Mhz with 264kB of SRAM Storage – 2MB QSPI flash Display – 17×7 dot-matrix display USB – 1x micro USB 1.1 port for power, data, and programming I/Os 25-pin notched “Wavy” connector with up to […]

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