This guide will show you how to get started with coding on a BBC micro:bit.
You can print or download this BBC micro:bit helpsheet [622 KB].
What is a BBC micro:bit?
The micro:bit is a tiny computer that can be programmed to do many different things, from displaying a flashing heart to playing a game of Rock Paper Scissors.
There is no special software required – the micro:bit can be programmed on a laptop or PC running Windows 7 or later, or a Mac running OS X 10.6 or later, via the micro:bit website. It can also be programmed on a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or tablet via the official micro:bit app for Android or Apple from the relevant app store.
IMPORTANT! Safety first!
Before getting started with your micro:bit, please read the safety advice on the micro:bit website.
It is recommended that children under 8 years are supervised by an adult when using the micro:bit Starter Kit.
Handle the micro:bit with care - its electronics are exposed!
Only handle the micro:bit by its edges and avoid touching the components.
Do not use portable battery chargers or USB charging ports (often marked with a lightning bolt or 'SS') to power your micro:bit.
Only use zinc-carbon or alkaline batteries, and do not mix different types of battery or leave spent batteries in the case.
To remove the battery pack, pinch the white plug with your fingers (do not remove by pulling the wire).
Your micro:bit Starter Kit includes the following:
- BBC micro:bit
- Battery case (x2 AAA batteries not included)
- Micro USB cable
- Help with BBC micro:bit user guide
BBC micro:bit foundation’s official website
You'll also find useful information on our coding and micro:bits webpage, including micro:bit projects like the one shown - from the basics to the more advanced!
The micro:bit can be programmed with simple 'block-based coding'. The illustration below is what you might see if you use the MakeCode Editor on the micro:bit website or app. On the left-hand side is the block menu. Each block is pre-set with an individual command. When you slot these together (a bit like a jigsaw), they form a sequence of instructions telling the micro:bit what to do.
In this example, the pink block runs the program when button 'A' on the micro:bit is pressed. The green block tells everything inside it to repeat four times. The blue blocks tell the micro:bit's LEDs to display a smiley face followed by nothing. With the repeat loop, this means the face shape will flash on and off four times.
Using the micro:bit with PCs and laptops
To use your micro:bit with a PC or laptop, you will need to connect it using the micro USB cable provided in the Starter Kit. It will show up as a removable drive. Once you have created your code on the micro:bit website, here's how to download it to your micro:bit:
1) Click the purple Download button on the bottom left.
2) Ignore the Download to your micro:bit pop-up. At the bottom left of the screen in your Downloads bar, you'll see a .hex file - click the up arrow and select Show in folder
3) You should now see your .hex file in the Downloads window that appears.
4) Click and drag the .hex file onto the MICROBIT (D:) drive in your Quick Access toolbar on the left.
5) You will see a progress bar on-screen and a flashing light on the back of the micro:bit during the transfer.
These instructions apply to downloading from Google Chrome. For other browsers, and to see screenshots of the download process, visit our more detailed guide on our micro:bit web page.
Using the micro:bit with mobile devices
To use your micro:bit with a smartphone or tablet, you will need to download the micro:bit app from the relevant app store.
Once you have installed and opened the app, it’s time to ‘pair’ the two devices: make sure Bluetooth on your smartphone/tablet is switched on and connect your micro:bit to the battery pack provided in the Starter Kit, with x2 AAA batteries inserted. From the app’s home menu, select Connections (Android) or Choose micro:bit (Apple), then Pair a new micro:bit. Follow the instructions on-screen to pair the devices. Next, select Create Code from the app’s home menu to create your program using blockbased coding. When you are ready to transfer the program to your micro:bit, press the purple Download button on the bottom left. Your device will search for the micro:bit and may ask you to repair it. Follow the instructions on-screen until you see the image on the left. Your program will now ‘flash’ to the micro:bit, indicated by a blue progress bar.
You can find more information about using the micro:bit with a Kindle Fire, on our micro:bit webpage.
The Micro:bit website
The West Sussex Libraries coding web page
Contact the Library Service
This guide has been produced by West Sussex County Council Library Service © 2020.