The BBC Micro: Bit is, to say the least, an outstanding product. Designed to give the youth of Great Britain a headstart in the world of computing, the device made its way outside of the UK and has been available in the US for a time now. I decided to give it a spin and, boy, talked about impressed. It’s very small, very simple and very powerful. For under twenty US dollars, you get a micro that contains two buttons, a 5×5 LED matrix, ample RAM and EPROM, a simple but effective bus, battery power as an option via a built in connector, accelerometer, Bluetooth and more. This thing is super simple to program as well (which was the goal.) You can use Microsoft’s MakeCode IDE, the MakeCode website, A micro Python development IDE (via the WEB) and even Arduino IDE. MakeCode is, perhaps, the easiest to use. It appears to work and look like the Scratch environment where you, literally, drag and drop controls to connect them together and form your program. You can get surprisingly sophisticated with this. Each Micro: Bit is capable of communicating with other Micro: Bits, which allows for multiuser games or other uses.
There is also a fair amount of third party support for Micro: Bit. Add on LCD screens (which I have purchased one), controllers, cases, etc. I am in the process of reviewing a few and will write about them later.
I am using these (I bought three, one for each of my younger children and one for myself—naturally.) Both of my young ones seem to have taken to the device, with my youngest, who is six, being the most fascinated with the device.
The pricing for the device, under twenty US dollars, is perfect and the accessories are inexpensive as well. Getting into hardware and software is easier and cheaper than ever. This is a great way to enter the field.
Stay tuned for code, more photos and other tidbits on this terrific little device.