The Power Platform Chap

Benjamin Crowe

First impressions of the BBC Micro:Bit

BBC - Micro:Bit

The BBC Micro:bit, the spiritual successor to the renowned BBC Micro from the 1980s, was jointly created by the British Broadcasting Corporation and Acorn Computers. Originally intended to provide British school children with resources to learn coding, the BBC Micro played a significant role in shaping a generation of coders and fostering the UK video game scene.

BBC Micro:bit
BBC Micro:bit board front face

Fast forward to today, and the BBC Micro:bit follows in its predecessor’s footsteps, aiming to offer an affordable entry point to programming education. But how does it differ from popular boards like the Raspberry Pi?

While both the BBC Micro:bit and Raspberry Pi cater to beginners, the Micro:bit stands out as an embedded system. Unlike the Raspberry Pi, it lacks USB, Ethernet, and HDMI ports, focusing instead on compactness and simplicity.

Measuring just 5cm by 4cm, the Micro:bit packs quite a punch despite its small size. On the front, you’ll find two programmable buttons, 25 individually addressable LEDs, and several I/O rings for connectivity. Flipping it over reveals a Bluetooth antenna, a micro USB port for code transfer and power, a reset button, and a battery pack connector. Additionally, there are 20 edge pin connections and integrated components like a compass, accelerometer, and a 32-bit ARM Cortex M0 CPU with 16k of RAM and Bluetooth low power support.

BBC Micro:bit board layout
BBC Micro:bit layout

Despite its minimal input ports, the Micro:bit’s integrated features make it versatile. With just a USB to Micro USB cable, you can transfer code and power the board. The LEDs serve as a built-in display, complementing the onboard buttons, accelerometer, and compass.


Back of BBC Mirco:bit
BBC Micro:bit board back face

Programming the Micro:bit is where its true potential shines. Supporting languages like BASIC and Python, it offers accessible coding environments via the website. Whether you prefer typing in Python or using block-based editors like Scratch, the Micro:bit’s intuitive interface accommodates various coding levels.

BBC Micro:bit Python IDE
Python programming environment.
BBBC Micro:bit Block Editor
Microsoft Block Editor
BBC Micro:bit Microsoft Touch Develop
My personal choice Microsoft Touch Develop

Beyond its programming capabilities, the Micro:bit Foundation provides an extensive library of tutorials, making it easy for beginners to start coding. From simple LED animations to interactive games, the possibilities are vast.

Considering its affordability at just £13, the BBC Micro:bit offers an enticing entry into the world of embedded systems. Whether you’re a novice coder or an enthusiast, its straightforward setup and versatile programming options make it a worthwhile investment.


In conclusion, if you’re looking to dive into coding with Python or BASIC, or if you’re new to programming altogether, the BBC Micro:bit is an excellent choice. Its user-friendly design and wealth of learning resources ensure an enjoyable experience for beginners and enthusiasts alike. So go ahead, embark on your coding adventure with the BBC Micro:bit – you won’t be disappointed.

BBC Micro:bit working
Please follow and like us:
Pin Share


Hello Ben, I just got a BBC micro:bit (for my 10 year old). What a wonderful device! I’m commenting here to check my understanding of how to work with it. Hope you don’t mind. There is of course the Microsoft web-interface to coding which (for now) I am not too fond of. I am far more interested in using microPython. As I understand it, there are two ways to use it.

1) use the Mu editor to write Python scripts and flash the resulting hex code to the micro:bit
2) uflash the microPython interpreter to the micro:bit device and work interactively (over the serial port).

Did I get this right?

Thanks for the comment. To be honest after having a quick look at the two options you have provided, it looks like both are a reasonable alternative to using the online IDEs. I personally would go for Mu editor, just because it looks like it would take less effort to get up and running. Unless you and your 10 year old would like to learn and understand how serial emulation and communication works.

Though I should point out that currently I have only used the online IDEs. Though thank you for bringing these to my attention.

[…] First impressions of the BBC Micro:Bit […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.