The BBC 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 PC or laptop via the website https://microbit.org.
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. See below for information on Kindle Fire compatability.
The micro:bit is a fun, accessible resource for children and adults taking their first steps into coding.
Before getting started with your micro:bit, please read the official safety advice from the Micro:bit Educational Foundation.
- 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).
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.
When you have created your code on the 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, see our more detailed guide.
To use your micro:bit with a smartphone or tablet, you will first 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 block-based 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 re-pair it. Follow the instructions on-screen until your program ‘flashes’ to the micro:bit, indicated by a blue progress bar.
The micro:bit can be programmed via a Kindle Fire using an app called BirdBlox. It isn’t quite as straightforward as the micro:bit app for Apple and Android – although it’s still block-based coding, what you see on-screen looks quite different from the MakeCode block editor.
Here is BirdBlox’s step-by-step guide (open in Chrome) to pairing a micro:bit with a Kindle Fire. You will need to download a .hex code, as supplied by BirdBlox within their guide, onto the micro:bit using a laptop/computer first! If you don't have a device like this at home, you can complete this initial step on a library computer.
BirdBlox only works with Kindle Fire tablets made since 2014, including Fire HD 6, Fire HD 7, and Fire HD 8. Older versions of the kindle are not compatible.