What is the BBC micro:bit – The BBC MicroBit (also referred to as BBC micro:bit) is an open source hardware ARM-based embedded system designed by the BBC for use in computer education in the UK. The BBC micro:bit was first announced on the launch of BBC’s Make It Digital campaign on 12 March 2015 with the intent of delivering 1 million devices to pupils in the UK.
Here’s some of what’s packed into micro:bit –
- The micro:bit is half the size of a credit card and has an ARM Cortex-M0 processor
- The micro:bit comes along with an accelerometer and magnetometer sensors
- The micro:bit offers Bluetooth and USB connectivity
- Also embedded into the micro:bit front face is a display consisting of 25 LEDs and two programmable buttons
The micro:bit can be powered by either USB or an external battery pack. The device inputs and outputs are through five ring connectors that form part of a larger 23-pin edge connector. As a pocket-sized computer the BBC micro:bit is approximately 70 times smaller and 18 times faster than the original BBC Micro computers used in schools. It has 25 red LED lights that can flash eye catching messages and be used to create challenging games. The two programmable buttons on the micro:bit can be used to control games or pause and skip songs on a playlist. The accelerometer on the micro:bit can detect motion and knows when you’re on the move so you can use it to create a pedometer or even an interactive game that detects motion. The built-in compass knows which direction you’re heading in and it can use a low energy Bluetooth connection to interact with other devices and the Internet.
Playing music with the BBC micro:bit – Bring your projects to life with the Speaker Module for the BBC micro:bit from Waveshare. This speaker expansion module designed for micro:bit, allows you to add music player functionality and listen to the music either using a headphone or through the speaker on the board. This is a nifty little board that can be used to bring your micro:bit games, projects to life. Furthermore, this board can also be used for Arduino development. This board is compatible with other 3.3V/5V Arduino boards.
Let’s have a brief look at the specifications for the speaker board for the BBC micro:bit –
- Operating Voltage: 2.0V~5.5V
- On-board Speaker
- Dial for Volume adjustment
- Audio Earphone jack
There board is designed to allow you to connect the BBC micro:bit to the speaker in two different ways –
- Using off the shelf DuPont wires to connect the micro:bit to the speaker board
- Using alligator clip wires to connect the micro:bit to the speaker board
You should choose one of the options depending on what works best for you. So go ahead, follow one of the connection options and get your BBC micro:bit connected to the speaker board. Connections are to be made as follows –
- Ground from the BBC micro:bit connected to Ground on the speaker board
- 3V3 from the BBC micro:bit connected to 3V3 on the speaker board
- Pin 0 from the BBC micro:bit connected to Pin 0 on the speaker board
Let’s write some code – It’s time now to test out the capabilities of the speaker board for the BBC micro:bit. We have a few different options here and the choice of coding platform would depend on where you are with your STEM learning journey including what programming language, platform you are comfortable with.
Once you’ve put together the code using the Makecode Block based editor use the “Download” option to copy the Hex file to your micro:bit. All you need to do is just drag the Hex file onto the drive your BBC micro:bit shows up as. Once you’ve copied the code onto the BBC micro:bit reboot the micro:bit and press the buttons to play the music.
Creating music with the BBC micro:bit and playing music with the speaker board for BBC micro:bit is super easy. From the examples above you would have seen that programming the BBC micro:bit to play sound through the external speaker board is both easy and lots of fun. We encourage you to try out many other tunes and play them through the speaker board.
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Hopefully you have enjoyed the tutorials. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for future tutorials drop us a note at – learning at hack2 dot live.