Meet the New Micro:bit

The new micro:bit
(Image credit: micro:bit Education Foundation)

Today, October 13, the Micro:bit Educational Foundation released their latest version of the micro:bit board. This is the first major revision since the original micro:bit which first came out in 2015 and it adds a number of enhancements and refinements to the board. Yet it will retail for the same price, around $20 when it launches in November.

The micro:bit is a micro-controller board, similar in concept to an Arduino but aimed primarily at younger makers who have never worked with electronics or code. The original micro:bit came with onboard sensors for temperature, compass direction and orientation. It also featured five crocodile clip compatible GPIO connections, two buttons and an LED matrix of 25 LEDs used to output messages, pictures and icons. Bluetooth and radio communication are also present for wireless communication in projects.

For the new micro:bit there are a number of extra features added to enhance those found on the original.

  • On board speaker
  • MEMs Microphone with LED indicator
  • Touch sensitive logo 
  • Built-in sleep/off mode that means the board can be powered-down with batteries connected
  • Discrete regulator that can supply up to 200mA of current to external accessories

The new micro:bit comes with a built in microphone and speaker enabling the learner to quickly and easily build projects that react to sound without the need for external connections. 

To write code for the micro:bit we can use a block based editor, MakeCode or a version of Python for micro-controllers, MicroPython. New micro:bit is backwards compatible with the previous version, including code, accessories and educator lesson plans.

We went hands on with the new micro:bit and found the experience to be fun. The first demo that you see on the board is one that demonstrates all of the functionality via a series of games. We further tested the new micro:bit by connecting it to Pimoroni’s enviro:bit, a weather station board. After loading the MakeCode extension and creating a simple project to get the current temperature and scroll the data across the screen.

The new micro:bit, sometimes referred to as micro:bit V2 will be released for general sale in November.

Les Pounder

Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".