BBC Micro:bit: Raspberry Pi alternative is available to order in the UK from £13

The BBC partnered with companies like ARM, Samsung, and Microsoft to develop the Micro:bit embedded system. The tiny programmable computers have already been sent out to most year seven students in the UK, and now they’re available for pre-order online with shipping expected in a few weeks. A single Micro:bit costs a mere £13 (about $19), but you’ll have to spend a bit more if you want extras like batteries and a USB cable.

The Micro:bit has a lot in common with the hugely popular Raspberry Pi micro-computer, but it’s designed to be simpler to start using and includes some useful hardware and sensors on the board. Before you get started, the Micro:bit comes with an accelerometer, multiple I/O rings, magnetometer, Bluetooth, USB, an array of 25 LEDs, and two programmable buttons. It’s powered by a 32-bit ARM Cortex M0 CPU and has a 20-pin edge connector that allows it to be docked with more powerful modules like an Arduino.

BBC Microbit Raspberry Pi alternative is available to order in the UK from £1

This device is aimed at getting kids more interested in technology and programming. The BBC has a site with suggestions for projects you could make with the Micro:bit like a scoreboard, a musical instrument, and more. Some of the projects just require a little light electronics work, but most of it includes creating code. The Micro:bit supports a simple graphical block editor by Microsoft as well as Microsoft Touch Develop, JavaScript (graphical and text), and Python. There are also apps for Android and iOS that can flash software to the board over Bluetooth.

The Micro:bit is available from the manufacturer Element14 in bulk, but other resellers have listings live for single purchases. In addition to the lone board, you can get kits with extra hardware like breadboards and tutorials for £15 to£40 (about $21 to $56). If you’re looking for a US supplier of the Micro:bit, there isn’t one right now. You’ll probably be able to import one eventually, but it’ll end up more expensive.


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