You’ve got hold of a BBC micro:bit, but maybe the compact embedded computer is just sitting there gathering dust. It’s time to clean it up and use it again!
A great selection of accessories have been released for this device, letting you extend functionality in ways you would never have imagined.
Here are some of the best micro:bit add-ons that let you do something new with the device. Note that none of these kits ship with the micro:bit itself, which is available separately.
If your BBC micro:bit has been sat gathering dust due to a lack of compatible (or easily connected) components, then this Electronic Starter Kit from Monk Makes is a great option.
Featuring a speaker, relay, sensor board, a motor with a fan, a light bulb, 10 alligator clip leads, a single AA battery and a 30 page instruction guide, this kit is ideal for working through a number of great projects.
The guide includes a bunch of projects, with Blocks editor and MicroPython options. Among the projects you’ll find a motion alarm, a “shout-o-meter”, a number of ways to manipulate the fan, and a Theramin-like magic instrument.
Once you’ve completed our recommended BBC micro:bit beginner’s projects, this is a great way to keep using your device.
One of the most popular ways to use a BBC micro:bit is as a wearable device, using the LED array to display text, or an image. But attaching the device to your clothing can be a bit tricky. While you might like the idea of a homemade cotton pouch, this protective silicon case is a much better solution.
Designed to provide full access to the pins, A and B buttons, USB ports and other connectors, these cat-like micro:bit sheaths come in blue, yellow, red, or amber.
Looking for a way to connect your micro:bit to servos, with a built in battery case? Something ideal for, say, building a micro:bit powered car? The Ring:bit extension board is the answer, which comes with a function select switch, power switch, and two sets of pins. Capable of running up to three servos, this board has space for three AA batteries.
A micro:bit is attached to this board via the five pole holes. Program this peripheral with the usual micro:bit languages, including Microsoft Blocks and MicroPython (a compact version of Python, one of the simplest programming languages).
Once you’ve done everything in the starter kit, the only way is up. The micro:bit Inventor’s Kit from Kitronic features the Edge Connector Board, designed for use with breadboards, one of which is included. Also included is a collection of LEDs, LDRs, capacitors, a fan, motor, switches, wires, and a tutorial book.
No soldering is required, but by the end of the book you should know how to dim an LED using a potentiometer, use a transistor to drive a motor, and more.
If you like the look of the inventor’s kit, but don’t have the budget, or just don’t need most of the items, the Edge Connector breakout board can be bought separately.
This is a basic breakout board that you can use to easily connect your micro:bit to a range of hardware via a breadboard.
If the Edge Connector breakout board doesn’t give you enough to play with, the Octopus:bit surely will. Simply slot the micro:bit into the socket and gain access to a collection of GPIO pins, providing a wealth of connection options.
The device includes a UART port, I2C port, and SPI port, and two devices, complete with connected micro:bits, can be connected together for serial communication.
If you’re looking for breakout options, this is as good as it gets for the micro:bit.
Ever thought about bringing a color display into the mix with your BBC micro:bit? Not just an LED display, but a real, live, LCD capable of 65,000 colors, with 160×128 pixel resolution and SPI interface? The MakerFocus 1.8-inch LCD fits the bill perfectly, and includes onboard SRAM cache.
Simply plug your micro:bit into the connector, and get started. The display also includes reserved solder pads for use with Arduino/Nucleo boards.
Meanwhile, if you want something more in keeping with the micro:bit’s low-fi, 8-bit aesthetic, the scroll:bit from Pimoroni might be more suitable. Essentially extending the 5 x 5 LED matrix to 17 x 77, the 119 new LED pixels can be individually controlled. As with the main matrix, the LEDs can be programmed with Microsoft MakeCode and MicroPython.
Attach this to your micro:bit and create animations, graphs, even video games and complex wearable messages!
If wearables are your thing, then you’ve probably struggled to keep your BBC micro:bit powered up. Perhaps you’ve tried a portable USB smartphone charger, keeping the battery hidden in your backpack or pocket. Not very practical, but this MI:power Board is a lightweight and compact solution to your problem.
With a built-in buzzer, and 3V coin cell holder, the MI:power Board is designed to fit snugly against the micro:bit. It uses the GND and 3V connectors for power and P0 for the buzzer; these connectors are also employed to secure the MI:power Board to your BBC micro:bit. There’s also a useful on/off switch!
Extend Your BBC Micro:bit’s Functionality
Each of these peripherals naturally requires you to first have a BBC micro:bit computer. If you don’t already own one, or have access via your school, you can order one off Amazon.
Want to find out more about this versatile little computer? Check our review of the BBC micro:bit.