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Micro:bit

The Micro:bit is a small programmable board from the BBC. This tiny device is designed to help teach coding to kids, and weighs in at an equally tiny £16 to buy the full stater kit available from Amazon HERE, with a case available from Amazon for just £3.50 HERE.

The Micro:bit has a number of sensors on board, including temperature, G sensor and audio sensor. There there are 25 LEDs in a 5×5 grid on the front, with 2 function buttons to interact with the programs you create.

There is a micro USB connector and Bluetooth which can both be used to download programs to the device. The micro USB can also be used for power, as well as there being a battery pack available (included in the starter kit), which uses 2x AAA batteries, to allow for projects such as a step counter.

Along the bottom of the board are a series of connectors, which can be used with a number of addon breakout boards, and connectors, which as well as being equally as low cost as the Micro:bit, add new features and abilities to the board, and increase the scope of projects that are available.

Now my interest in this little bit of kit comes from Scouting. One of the badges I am putting together activities for my Cubs to do is the Digital Maker badge. This badge is sponsored by the Raspberry Pi Foundation so, as you can imagine, is full of activities designed to get young minds engaged with coding. The best part of this, is that all of the projects can be done using a Raspberry Pi, so I also get to teach the Cubs how to use Linux, as well as coding.

So the Micro:bit uses hex code, which isn’t something I’m familiar with. However, the good people who created the Micro:bit have also provided a couple of ways to create code, either via an online Python editor HERE, or using a Scratch style Javascript editor HERE. In both cases they have a download button which will convert the code to .hex files, which can then simply be dragged and dropped onto the device, as the Micro:bits storage will show as a drive when connected to a computer. Along side these editors, there is also capability to use MU Editor (which has a specific mode for Micro:bit), and also Scratch, as well as other editors.

Below, I have compiled a .zip file with the original files on the Micro:bit, as well as a selection of .hex files I have collected from other sites, and a couple I have created myself using the online editors

If you find a .hex file doesn’t do much, or you want to reset the device, simply drag and drop the OutOfBoxExperience-v2.hex, and this will rest the device to factory settings. The .zip also includes 3 firmware files, the one that came on my device out of the box, and 2 upgrades. To do a firmware upgrade, simply hold the reset button on the back of the device and connect it to your computer, the MAINTENANCE drive will show, and simply drag and drop the firmware file into this drive, once the device resets itself, unplug it from the computer, and plug it back in again to return to normal mode. Again if this fails, put the device back into maintenance mode, and simply drag and drop a different firmware in to downgrade/upgrade. I currently have the latest version running perfectly on my device, so this should work OK for you.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Liv (Kaa)

    I am also a Cub leader, and always feared the Digital Maker badge, as I have no idea what I am doing with technical stuff. I had looked over the guide on the Scout Association website, but was lost when it mentioned coding. Now I know what a Micro Bit is, and see how simple it can be to work with, I am going to look at getting some for our group, and give this a try

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