How to use a micro:bit

The micro:bit is more powerful than the original BBC Micro but it’s easier to program. You can even code on your phone and send the program to the micro:bit by Bluetooth. Here’s how to use a micro:bit

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  • how to use a microbit main Intro
  • how to use microbit mipower board First use
  • how to use a microbit app Pair
  • how to use a microbit app 1 Pattern
  • how to use a microbit app 3a Code on phone
  • how to use a microbit app 3 Block editor
  • how to use a microbit app 2 Flash
  • how to use a microbit website usb Website
  • how to use a microbit block editor web Tutorial
  • how to use a microbit compile Compile
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How to use a micro:bit

A million Year 7s are getting their own micro:bit this year, and the hope is that it will inspire them to learn to code. The tiny computer has an LED ‘screen’, Bluetooth, sensors and buttons so you can do a surprising amount with it.

For some inspiration, see 8 fun projects you can do with a micro:bit

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Next Prev how to use a microbit main

A million Year 7s are getting their own micro:bit this year, and the hope is that it will inspire them to learn to code. The tiny computer has an LED ‘screen’, Bluetooth, sensors and buttons so you can do a surprising amount with it.

For some inspiration, see 8 fun projects you can do with a micro:bit

Step 2 of 10: How to use a micro:bit

When you get a micro:bit it should come with a micro USB cable and a battery pack that lets you power it on the move (the USB cable will also provide power). When you first turn it on it will tell you the button on the left is A and on the right is B. It then runs a basic ‘catch the dot’ game which uses the accelerometer to move your dot to the position of the static dot by tilting the micro:bit.

The included battery pack takes two AAA batteries and is pretty inconvenient. However, Kitronik has come up with a fix: a £4.98 MI:Power board which screws to the micro:bit and powers it by a 3V coin battery. It also has a cutout for the reset button on the back.

Step 3 of 10: How to use a micro:bit

What you do next is up to you. If you have an Android phone with version 4.4 or later, or an iPhone with iOS 8.4 or newer, you can install the official micro:bit apps (the Android one is developed by Samsung). Launch the app and then tap ‘Connections’, then ‘Pair a new micro:bit’. Then press and hold buttons A and B while pressing and releasing the reset button which is on the back.

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Step 4 of 10: How to use a micro:bit

Now draw the pattern you see on the micro:bit’s screen to start the pairing process. If it fails, tap the ‘i’ button to see why. In our case, it was because the board had an old version of the firmware. To fix that, you need to go to the micro:bit website, create a quick bit of code and transfer it to the micro:bit. The latest software will be copied over in the process. For more see the slide ’Website’ later in this guide.

Press the A button when you see an arrow flashing left and then enter the six-digit code when you get a pairing request on your phone. You’ll then see a pairing successful message on the screen, and a tick symbol on the micro:bit

Step 5 of 10: How to use a micro:bit

To code on your phone, tap Create Code and then when the website loads, scroll down to the Microsoft Touch Develop section: this is a coding language made with phones and touchscreens in mind. Tap on ‘Follow Tutorial’. 

Step 6 of 10: How to use a micro:bit

Tap on ‘let’s get started’ and follow the instructions on screen to build your code. Once done, you can tap ‘run main’ to check your program is working as expected, then tap Microsoft Block editor to go back (in the web browser) and tap ‘compile’.

You’ll need to save the file, which is easier on an Android phone. On an iPhone you’ll have to have a cloud storage app installed such as Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive and save it to that. To do it, tap Open in… and then choose the cloud storage app.

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Step 7 of 10: How to use a micro:bit

Go back to the main menu and tap Flash, then My Scripts, then choose the script you just created. It will look for the micro:bit and begin transferring the program and this will run once it's done.

Step 8 of 10: How to use a micro:bit

You might find it easier to program the micro:bit using the official website from a laptop or PC. Head there in a browser and connect your micro:bit to your computer using the USB cable. It should appear like a USB flash drive. If not, check in My Computer for a removable drive called MICROBIT.

Step 9 of 10: How to use a micro:bit

On the website, click Create Code from the menu at the top and choose Follow Tutorial in the Microsoft Block Editor section. It should open a window with some simple code called “astonishing script” or something similar - all scripts are automatically named for you. 

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Step 10 of 10: How to use a micro:bit

Click Compile, then save the resulting .hex file to your micro:bit, just as you would a file to a USB thumb drive. Don’t worry if you don’t see the file appear alongside the two existing files as this is normal: the micro:bit will reboot and start running the program.

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