Learning to code can be fun, and with boards such as the Raspberry Pi and the upcoming BBC Doctor Who HiFive Inventor Coding Kit a collaboration between BBC Learning, Tynker and SiFive we can learn new skills and save the galaxy while traveling with Doctor Who. This $75 kit provides the equipment and story lead lessons to develop your own sci-fi themed projects.
The hand shaped board developed by SiFive is powered by a 150 MHz RISC-V SiFive RISC-V FE310-G003 processor, an open source alternative to x86_64 and ARM processors. This choice of processor is unusual, typically boards of this nature are powered by chips from Arm or Atmel. RISC-V has yet to enter the mainstream maker community, but could this be the first commercial board aimed at children?
The HiFive comes with onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabling creation of IoT projects. Onboard sensors for light, orientation and direction provide interesting ways to provide input for experiments. A 6 x 8 RGB LED matrix provides a colorful method of output.
The HiFive features an edge connector very similar to that used on the micro:bit, whether this is fully compatible remains to be seen and we shall be testing the board as soon as they are released.
Writing code for the HiFive is made possible using the Tynker block programming language and the child's learning is supported via a series of lessons told as stories in the Doctor Who franchise. The block language is aimed at children from seven years upwards, but an optional MicroPython library will enable older children to use the board for more advanced projects.
The kit will retail for $75 and will be available via Amazon from November 23, known to fans as Doctor Who Day.