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Announcing the New Micro:bit

 by matteo on 13 Oct 2020 |
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Announcing the New Micro:bit The Micro:bit Educational Foundation has announced the manufacturing and launch of the latest version of the micro:bit. The BBC micro:bit, a pocket-sized computer helping to inspire more than 25 million children to learn digital creativity and computing skills, will receive its first major updates since launching in 2016. Available from mid-November 2020, it will now include a built-in speaker and microphone, enabling people to learn through sound and to get creative with it straight out-of-the-box. The hardware also includes a number of technical upgrades to ensure that in the future the device is an ideal tool for exploring, understanding and experimenting with AI and ML, as these technologies begin to transform the planet. The new micro:bit continues to support all of the same features that teachers and students have come to love, and all the existing lessons and code for the original micro:bit will be compatible with the new device. In addition, as part of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation’s commitment to keeping the device as cost-effective and accessible as possible, the new device will be released in November at a similar price point to the original. What's New Sense sound and transform projects with the microphone Make sound and bring your micro:bit to life with the speaker  Program the gold micro:bit logo to respond to your touch More computing power  Handy power save button  Comparison Chart Feature Current (V1.5) Latest (v2) Processor Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822 Nordic Semiconductor nRF52833 Memory 256kB Flash, 16kB RAM 512kB Flash, 128kB RAM Interface NXP KL26Z, 16kB RAM NXP KL27Z, 32kB RAM Microphone N/A MEMS microphone and LED indicator Speaker N/A On board speaker Logo Touch N/A Touch sensitive logo pin Edge Connector 25 pins. 3 dedicated GPIO, PWM, i2c, SPI and ext. power. 3 ring pins for connecting crocodile clips/banana plugs. 25 pins. 4 dedicated GPIO, PWM, i2c, SPI and ext. power. 3 ring pins for connecting crocodile clips/banana plugs. Notched for easier connection I2C Shared I2C Bus Dedicated I2C Bus for peripherals Wireless 2.4Ghz Micro:bit Radio/BLE Bluetooth 4.0 2.4Ghz Micro:bit Radio/BLE Bluetooth 5.0 Power 5V via Micro USB port, 3V via edge connector or battery pack 5V via Micro USB port, 3V via edge connector or battery pack, LED power indicator, Power off (push and hold power button) Current Available 90mA available for accessories 200mA available for accessories Motion Sensor ST LSM 303 ST LSM 303 Software C++, MakeCode, Python, Scratch C++, MakeCode, Python, Scratch Size 5cm(w) x 4cm(h) 5cm(w) x 4cm(h) New Way to Connect Crocodile Clips Micro:bit Packaging * { box-sizing: border-box; } /* Create three equal columns that floats next to each other */ .column { float: left; width: 33.33%; padding: 10px; } /* Clear floats after the columns */ .row:after { content: ""; display: table; clear: both; } .product-subtitle, .RelatedProductsHeader, .SimilarProductsHeader{ background: #f2f2f2; font-size: 16px; line-height: 17px; color: black; font-weight: bold; padding: 10px 15px; position: relative; margin-bottom:7px; border:none; } .long-description, .reviews, .questions, .related-products table, .similar-products table{ margin-bottom:40px; padding:0 15px; } BBC micro:bit v2 Single Contents 1x Micro:bit Board & 1x User Guide. Purchase Here BBC micro:bit v2 GO Contents 1x Micro:bit Board, 1x User Guide, 1x USB Cable, 1x Battery Holder & 2x AAA Batteries. Purchase Here BBC micro:bit v2 Club Contents 10x Micro:bit Board, 10x User Guide, 10x USB Cable, 10x Battery Holder & 20x AAA Batteries. Purchase Here The micro:bit Go & Club now come with a 30cm USB cable and the latest micro:bit which can be powered off by pushing and holding the power button. Important Info Updating .hex files The editors and apps are being updated over the coming weeks and are currrently in beta. When they are released, you should update any compiled .hex files that you host as part of your resources. To do this, simply drag and drop them into the editor in which they were created and then download the .hex file. Universal Hex Note that the updated file will be ~1.8Mb as opposed to ~700Kb in size. This increase in size means that the hex file can be used on any board revision and is called a Universal Hex file. Bluetooth BLE A hex file that enables all micro:bit Bluetooth services is available to use for testing BLE. Download the updated version of the BLE all services hex. Code Editors The editors will support both versions simultaneously for features common to both boards,for example the motion sensor, LEDs, buttons etc. Makecode You can use the latest board revision in the beta editor https://makecode.microbit.org/beta An extension has been developed to include the microphone and logo touch features currently available. https://github.com/microbit-foundation/pxt-microbit-v2-extension Open https://makecode.microbit.org/beta Select Advanced > Add Extension and paste https://github.com/microbit-foundation/pxt-microbit-v2-extension into the search box. Click on the extension to add it to the toolbox. V2 MakeCode APIs The Microphone and Logo touch features can be found in the Input menu. The Speaker features can be found in the music menu. Python You can use the latest board revision and APIs in the Python beta editor: https://python.microbit.org/v/beta If you want to use a specific or custom build of MicroPython you can do this in Mu. Drag and drop the MicroPython binary on to the MICROBIT drive Open the Files tab in Mu and copy main.py from the Files on your computer to the Files on your micro:bit   More info on the micro:bit V2 here  

Makeblock Neuron Inventor Kit in the Classroom

 by matteo on 14 Sep 2018 |
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What is it? The Neuron Inventor Kit is a new range of programmable electronic blocks for students from the makers of the mBot range of robots. The packaging is tough and thoughtfully designed, with the cardboard box having magnetic catches to make it easy for students to open and close it. The two plastic trays show where items are meant to go which is important for ensuring that things are later put away correctly. The backs of the blocks are magnetic, so you can attach them to the whiteboard etc to better show your students how to connect blocks and form circuits. The Neuron Boards also have metals back to attach blocks to. They are also LEGO compatible. The blocks are nicely made, and they feel and look very durable. They snap together easily using magnetic 'pogo pins'. These are effective connectors as they don't easily fall apart while also being very easy to separate afterwards. The sides of the blocks are colour coded with the Bluetooth and Power blocks being green signifying energy or communications blocks. Input blocks are orange –these included the Funny Touch and Gyro blocks. Output blocks are blue and include the LED panel (containing 64 RGB LEDs), the Buzzer, the Dual Servo Driver and Servo. The included manual is clearly set out and quite useful. The cardboard case materials allow you to quickly construct some of the projects –full instructions were on the iOS app.  Software options There's a Makeblock Neuron app for iOS and Android which you'll need for programming or else you can use the Scratch-based mBlock software on a PC or Mac. I tried the recommended mBlock (version 3.4.11) which is the download from the site but found it couldn’t “talk” to the Neuron set. I contacted CD-Soft and they gave a link. Version 4 supports Neuron really well –you can even connect it with a USB so don’t need a Bluetooth PC. Version 5 is in Alpha release 9 (April 3, 2018) but the earlier release I tried before Easter only supported another product called Codey. I have run out of time to try the current version. Using the kit Neuron blocks have two modes: Online Mode and Offline Mode. When a chain of Neuron blocks is not connected to an iPad or a PC, it stays in the Offline Mode. If you connect the Power block to the Gyro Sensor block and then the LED block you can get the lights to light up by moving the group around or tapping the Gyro Sensor block. Similarly, if you have the LED block replaced with a Servo Driver and Servo, the Servo will move back and forward responding to motion or tapping. Online Mode  Now if you add the Bluetooth block you can connect it to the iPad or PC and program the blocks to respond to instructions. The Apps Neuron App Along the bottom of the screen are various tools (nodes) Basic which includes Compare, Number, Interval as well as NOT, AND, OR and a counter Controls which include Button, Switch, Slider, Indicator, Label, Curve, Number and Text Box Time has Delay, Hold, Average, Today, Now, Pulse and Sequence Advanced contains icons for Random, Scale, Filter, Function, ComputePlus, ComparePlus and Valve A lot of these nodes are for a wider range of blocks – the full set of more than 30 modules can be seen here. Programming on the PC with mBlock version 4 software My example has the Bluetooth, Power and LED panel blocks connected to the PC via USB plugged into the Bluetooth block. When clicked it shows a sad face, waits for 1second and changes to a happy face, waits for 1second and changes to a heart. The program repeats 10 times. The programming was simple and easy to debug (I originally forgot the wait commands and the whole thing was over before I knew it.) My Favourite Block The Funny Touch which has 4 leads with coloured alligator clips and another lead as a Ground. Holding the ground clip and touching any of the other four completes a circuit. It is fun to work with in the Offline mode. I see a possibility of making a race track with the Ground lead attached to a centre track of foil or copper tape and having two Funny leads attached to side strips of foil at the top (the Start line) and two attached to strips again on the side of the track at the bottom (the Finish line). In the Online mode these could possibly be programmed so that when a student-made car with suitable connectors (to touch both the Ground strip and side strips) is placed on it the time of its travel down the track can be measured. Once again I have run out of time to test my ideas. Offline Mode In offline mode I connected the Power block, the Funny Touch and the buzzer. When I touched any of the coloured plugs while holding the Ground plug a sound would play. I connected some fruits to the coloured plugs (an apple, banana, orange and lemon) and these became my musical instruments. By holding the Ground plug and touching each fruit I completed the circuit and made a different tone for each fruit. I experimented and tried to play simple tunes. My granddaughters thought it was wonderful. Still in Offline mode Using the guide on the iPad we were able to use the cardboard shapes and added hardware (Funny Touch connected to the Power block connected to the LED display) to make the light palette. It was a more sophisticated version of what we had been investigating and changed the coloured LED display depending on which plug was touched. Summary This package would fit well into the upper primary school where electrical circuits are part of the curriculum outcomes in the Physical Science strand. The offline mode allows easy connections making it virtually foolproof to complete a working circuit. This makes it a useful tool for introducing circuits. The real fun comes when it is connected to the computer as there is a wider range of things for the blocks to do while running the programs. The two programming options are easy to learn and Bluetooth allows the program to operate things remotely (the Internet of Things -IoT). Having the use of the USB as well means that schools without iPads or Smartphones can use existing non-Bluetooth hardware to program the kits. A great STEM teaching resource. Peter Hope

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