July 8th, 2015, 22:16 Posted By: wraggster
Back in the 1980s the BBC Micro spawned a whole generation of bedroom coders. The aim of the project was to provide a rugged, simple to use computer that was cheap enough for most schools to own at least one. The Micro was a huge success, with 80 per cent of state schools buying one of the machines, introducing many children to programming for the first time.
The BBC is trying to do something similar with the BBC Micro Bit. The organisation is giving away a Raspberry Pi-like micro computer to every Year 7 child in the UK. The Micro Bit's main feature is a panel of 25 LEDs which can be programmed to light up in animated patterns. The BBC has now revealed the full specifications of the micro computer and it's a little bit awesome.
Along with its LED panel, the Micro Bit has an accelerometer, compass, and Bluetooth transmitter. It also has two on-board buttons and a micro USB port.
In theory, this means that you can use the Micro Bit as a simple two-button game controller, one that you can connect to a device either by USB or with Bluetooth. You could also program a game where you control it by shaking the Micro Bit.
The BBC is putting together a full set of tutorials and lesson plans that will launch with the Micro Bit in October.
“It’s an entry-level device that will enable kids to code and program, and if they enjoy that, clearly they’ll move on to devices like the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi,” industry verteran Ian Livingstone told the Guardian.
You could connect the Micro Bit to a Raspberry Pi and use it as a controller, light up score board, or any number of canny things.
The first prototype of the Micro Bit had a built in watch battery making it easy for the device to be pinned to your clothes. Unfortunately, the BBC worried that someone might end up swallowing the battery so it's now powered by a separate AAA battery pack but that can be discretely hidden away.
For those of us who aren't in Year 7, the Micro Bit will go on sale at the end of the year. I, for one, am definitely going to pick on up. The idea of being able to code a little piece of hardware makes me feel all tingly inside.
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