We take a look at what’s new with the latest V2 board release.
All the way back in Issue 2 (August, 2017), we described the tiny but mighty micro:bit board, developed by a non-profit organisation in the UK, supported by the BBC.
Since early 2016, this palm-sized single-board microcontroller has been teaching digital skills and computational thinking to millions of young minds all over the world. An impressive five million boards are in use today in schools and homes.
Just recently, the new generation micro:bit V2 was released, and our friends at Pakronics send us one to test.
This is the same size as the original, however, now includes some great new features, without losing any from the original.
The built-in microphone enables your program to sense and react to sound, which could be when it’s quiet or when the noise reaches a certain level. A tiny LED onboard indicates when the microphone is in use.
The integrated speaker provides audible feedback instead of just visual feedback from the LED matrix. This speaker can play music or musical tones depending on your application. The volume and pitch can also be controlled.
Thanks to the addition of a capacitive touch sensor, which is the micro:bit logo above the LED matrix, you can now make your programs react by touch.
The edge connector now has notches to help keep any attached croc clips or conductive thread in place, and the USB cable in the GO pack is longer for added convenience.
A few other improvements include a power LED indicator, a power-saving/sleep mode without the need to remove the batteries, and a 190mA output to power accessories. Compared to the micro:bit v1.5, the new generation board has a CPU that is four times faster, twice the flash ROM, and eight times the RAM. We also read that the V2 is capable of AI and machine learning workloads.
Another nice touch is the eco-friendly packaging, which is made from recycled materials and printed using soy based ink. Part of the box also doubles as a stand.
Like the original, the V2 board can be programmed with C++, Microsoft MakeCode, Python, and Scratch. It is also fully backwards compatible, so you can still use any existing MakeCode blocks or MicroPython code that you used on your previous micro:bit. You will need to recompile it though.
If you have never used a micro:bit before, it is very easy to get running. A tutorial on the micro:bit website helps you setup the micro:bit and how to code and transfer programs from your Windows, MacOS, ChromeOS or Linux device. The micro:bit app is also available, which works with phones or tablets, and uses Bluetooth to communicate with your micro:bit.
The micro:bit website also has over 70 projects to get you started, and teachers and parents may be interested to use the various lesson plans prepared for kids between 7 to 16.
HANDS ON TEST
When you power up the micro:bit V2 for the first time, you get to hear the speaker in action, while a pattern of lights dances across the LED display. It then runs you through a series of steps so you can get familiar with its features.
Our first test was using the micro:bit app that we installed on our Android smartphone. Within just a few minutes we had a love heart flashing on the micro:bit V2. The step-by-step tutorial made it quite easy, although it was a little difficult to see it all come together on the small phone screen.
We performed the same flashing heart program using the Microsoft MakeCode online editor: https://makecode.microbit.org/#editor. Within about a minute, we had the heart program running on the editor simulator, and then successfully downloaded it to the micro:bit with the touch of a button.
Our final test used the online Python editor: https://python.microbit.org/v/2 to do the same thing. Again, this was a seamless experience, however, it is designed for people familiar with Python, of course.
The micro:bit v2 did impress us. For such a small board, and at just $30, there is so much to do with it, all supported with easy to use online editors and straightforward tutorials. The addition of the speaker and microphone certainly does add a lot more possibilities for maker’s projects, and we look forward to seeing what AI and ML applications are announced in the near future.
To learn more about the new micro:bit, visit:
For the technical stuff, visit: https://tech.microbit.org/
The micro:bit V2 boards, GO kits, and accessories (inc. classroom packs) are available in Australia from Pakronics and Core Electronics:
micro:bit V2 Single Board $25.95
- Pakronics PAKR-A0319
- Core Electronics CE07353
micro:bit V2 GO Starter Kit $27.95
- Pakronics PAKR-K1185
- Core Electronics CE07354