bbc microbit

What is the BBC micro:bit Programmable Computer?

The original BBC Micro was a "micro" computer designed in the 80s with an emphasis on education and was known for the ability to expand peripherals and had a quality operating system running a new BBC Basic (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) programming language. Fast forward to today where the redesigned micro:bit is about 18 times faster and 70 times smaller going from a table-top machine to a tiny board that fits in the palm of your hand. You should appreciate tech miniaturization because of the variety of features and performance packed into this pocket-size computer.

The new microcontroller sports a 32-bit ARM Cortex CPU with 16K RAM running at 16 MHz and has built-in Bluetooth Low Energy module with Bluetooth Smart Technology, so you can connect your micro:bit to other micro:bits, phones, tablets, cameras and other everyday devices and objects. But wait, there's more! There is an on-board 3-axis digital accelerometer to detect motions like a shake, tilt or free-fall. A 3D magnetometer, or compass, allows you to sense direction and show your movement in degrees.

The micro:bit has 2 programmable buttons and a 5x5 matrix of 25 individually-programmable RED surface mount LEDs. It has a USB micro-B connector to connect it to your computer for programming, and it has a battery socket for connecting optional battery packs to make your projects truly wireless. Finally, the golden piano-key-looking side of the micro:bit is called the edge connector and has 25 "pins". Use these pins to connect to motors, LEDs, and other electrical components. Some pins are analog inputs, some are for programming and others provide redundant access to electrical +3v3 power and ground.

Microcontroller Comparison

micro:bit
Arduino
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
CPU
nRF51822
ATmega328P
BCM2837
Processor
32-bit ARM Cortex M0
8-Bit AVR
64-Bit ARM Cortex A53
RAM
16KB
2KB
1 GB
Flash ROM
256KB
32KB
External Via microSD
Clock Speed
16MHz
16MHz
1200MHz
LEDs
5x5 LED Dot Matrix
1 (PIN 13)
None
GPIO
19
13
40
Buttons
2 Programmable
None
None
Accelerometer
Built-In
None
None
Digital Compass
Built-In
None
None
Bluetooth
Built-In
None
Built-In
WiFi
None
None
Built-In + Ethernet
Power
USB or Battery Case
USB or AC Power
AC Power
Programming Language
blockly, Python, C++
C Based
Debian-Based OS's
Price
$
$$
$$$


microbit

While there are many "brains" to choose from to learn programming and create gadgets, none are as robust out-of-the-box as the micro:bit to be able to show off its capabilities and let you start making gadgets without requiring additional components. Some sample projects you can try are light sensing, make a temperature sensor, code a Rock, Paper, Scissors game, or send a message to other micro:bits. You can even use apps to program your micro:bit from mobile devices using Bluetooth. It can be programmed on both desktop (Windows PCs, Macs, Chromebooks, Linux including Raspberry Pi) and mobile devices running iOS, Android or Windows 10.

Accessorize!


Alligator Clips - Easily attach to the five large pins on the edge connector.

Banana Plugs - Can be inserted into the five large pins on the edge connector.

Edge Connector Breakout Board - A must have accessory that converts the edge connector to a more user-friendly 2x20 pin male header so you can use female-to-female or female-to-male jumper wires to connect sensors, LEDs, motors and other accessories.

bit:booster - micro:bit Educator Board - Designed by educators to optimize the micro:bit in the classroom. It can power up to 4 sensors and comes with a built-in piezo buzzer and 10 Neopixel RGB LEDs. Add inputs/outputs easily using alligator clips, wires, probes, conductive thread, Grove clips, jumpers and even Lego®.

USB micro-B cable - For connecting to your computer for programming purposes.

Get started with project ideas and lessons, or view more resources, guides and advice on using the micro:bit. You can also check out more ideas from the maker community.
If for some reason you can't find what you need, write us at [email protected], and we'll do our best to source it.