Micro:bit V2 brings new features with an update to its popular platform.
The BBC launched the original micro:bit in 2015 as an educational tool for kids to inspire creativity while learning to code. The UK-based organization created an entire curriculum for teachers to build coding lessons through many different projects aimed at both beginners and experienced users alike. The Micro:Bit V1 was also designed to be user-friendly and came outfitted with a 25-pin edge connector with five ring connectors that can be used with alligator clips for connecting add-on devices.
At first, I thought the edge connector was a bit old-school. But, I soon came to love it. The wide variety of support devices that this can just plug into is exciting. Who doesn’t like cartridges?
The BBC updated the design for the Micro:Bit V2, which features the same 5 x 4 cm footprint. Base components see a 2x or greater performance boost between the V1 and V2. It has an upgraded Nordic nRF52833 SoC (over the older nRF51822) with an Arm Cortex-M4 MCU (powerful for the size of this board), 128 KB of RAM, 512 KB of Flash, and Bluetooth 5.1 LE for wireless connectivity.
This performance boost lets it handle far more complex and heavy tasks than its predecessor. A big selling point for the V2 is that it can run AI and machine learning. It’s true. Edge Impulse can run on it. I hope to see more in this area.
The V2 retains the 25X red LED 5 x 5 matrix display (I would have liked to see at least a higher resolution LED matrix, if not a full-blown display) and 25-pin edge connector from the V1, and a pair of programmable tactile buttons.
New additions include a touch-sensitive logo that can control games, play music, adjust lighting, and more. It’s also outfitted with several sensors, including temperature, accelerometer, and compass, and comes equipped with a new MEMS-based microphone and speaker, along with a Bluetooth Smart antenna. The BBC has also included a micro-USB port for power and programming via an NXP Kinetis KL27Z Cortex-M0+ microcontroller. Power is supplied using 5V via USB, 3V through the edge connector, or a pair of AAA batteries using the board’s battery connector.
(Side note about the micro-USB port. It’s a bit dated of a connector, to be honest. Some of my old Micro:Bit V1 boards have that “got to wiggle the cord and not touch it” stability to the connection. Like very old phones. My current Micro:Bit V2 has a fresh one… but for how long?)
The Micro:Bit V2 update is still utilized as an educational tool and allows students to program their projects using C++. MicroPython, MakeCode blocks, and Scratch. This also allows teachers to retain their original curriculum without any significant changes other than updating the hex files for the new board.
The board is cheap enough to shower in every classroom. It’s growing in popularity, but its widespread adoption isn’t quite at the levels of its competitors (Arduino, Pi). I’m surprised since it’s so easy to use and has so many simple ways of interacting with it. Perhaps in the UK, where the BBC is an everyday phrase, it may be popular… but elsewhere needs work. I’m doing my part to help, I just ported an old project from a V1 to this V2. I love it.