The BBC micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer that introduces you to how software and hardware work together. It has an LED light display, buttons, sensors and many input/output features that, when programmed, let it interact with you and your world.
The new micro:bit with sound adds a built-in microphone and speaker, as well as an extra touch input button and a power button. Find out more in this video:
How do they work ?
The micro:bit helps you understand how computers work. When you type on your laptop or touch the screen on your phone, you’re using an input device. Inputs allow computers to sense things happening in the real world, so they can act on this and make something happen, usually on an output like a screen or headphones.
In between the input and the output, there is the processor. This takes information from inputs like buttons, and makes something happen on outputs, like playing a song in your headphones.
These videos explain how the micro:bit’s inputs, outputs and processor work just like the ones on your phone or computer:
You tell computers like the micro:bit what to do by giving them instructions. Sets of instructions for computers are called programs. Programs are written in code, a language that both you and the computer can understand.
You can program your micro:bit in the online MakeCode block or Python text editors.
You’ll need either:
- a computer with a web browser and internet access
- a phone or tablet and the free micro:bit app for MakeCode coding on Android or iOS (iPhone and iPad) mobile devices
When you’ve written your code, you’ll want to connect and transfer it onto the micro:bit.
How do you connect it ?
Connect your micro:bit to your computer or mobile device.
- If you’re using a computer, you need a micro USB cable to connect to your micro:bit to your computer’s USB socket
- If you’re using a phone or tablet, use Bluetooth to connect your micro:bit wirelessly
Transfer from a computer
Transferring your program to your micro:bit is called flashing because it copies your program into the micro:bit’s flash memory.
Your micro:bit will pause and the yellow LED on the back will blink while your program is being transferred. Once it’s copied across, your program starts running on your micro:bit.
There are two ways to transfer your program from a computer:
- Drag and drop is like copying a downloaded file from your computer to a USB memory stick. It works on any computer.
- Direct flashing sends your program from the code editor direct to your micro:bit. It works on any computer in two popular web browsers
You can send programs direct from the online code editors to your micro:bit without the need to download and copy a .hex file. This is quick and easy.
To use direct flashing, you’ll need to use a recent Chrome or Edge web browser that supports webUSB.
Note: direct flashing is quick and easy, and is great for debugging, but it does not save a copy of your program on your computer. If keeping a copy of your code on your computer or local network drives is important to you, for example for assessing students’ work, you may want to use drag and drop instead, or remind students to download and save a .hex file when they have completed their project.
Mobile device flashing
The apps use Bluetooth to transfer your code to your micro:bit, so you need to enable Bluetooth on your phone or tablet.
These videos help you understand how the mobile apps work with your micro:bit.
Instructions last updated – 28/05/2021
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