micro:bit Ready: getting started

Thanks to Richard Smith (@AmazingICT) for the inspiring video

With XinaBox and your BBC micro:bit you don’t need any hardware knowledge to quickly and easily build all sorts of digital instruments: 

Getting started in 3 steps...

Getting started with XinaBox and micro:bit involves 3 simple steps:

  1. Choosing the hardware
  2. Connecting the hardware
  3. Coding the micro:bit

1: Choose the hardware:

You will need the following to get started with XinaBox and micro:bit:

A BBC micro:bit with USB cable.

We use this to run the code which controls the instruments that we build. The USB connects the micro:bit to a computer so you can flash code onto it

An XinaBox / micro:bit bridge.

Your micro:bit slides into the bridge. xChips connect to the bridge and to each other.

Some xChips.

Look for xChips that are micro:bit ready - they are listed on this page

Some xBus connectors.

xBus connectors are used to join xChips together and to join them to a bridge

2: Connect the hardware:

xChips clip together using the xBus connectors:

The connectors and the spaces on the xChips they fit in to are not symmetrical, so check that the connector aligns properly to the space when trying to fit it:

  • With new connectors especially you may need to use a bit of force to fit it in.  xChips have lived for days in space and have survived a fall from 30km, so don't worry about pushing hard!
  • Push them in as far as they will go. This ensures all the right contacts are made, and also makes for a strong circuit.

xChips also connect to the bridge using the xBus connectors:

The micro:bit slides smoothly into the bridge:

It is simple enough for young learners to pick up very easily and so quick that building hardware consumes very little valuable lesson time.

There is 1 core rule that you need to follow when connecting xChips to your micro:bit:

The xChip IDs (circled in red below) should always face the same direction as the micro:bit logo (also circled):

 More detailed instructions on how to connect xChips are available on this page 

3: Coding the micro:bit:

Once you have connected up your micro:bit and XinaBox components you will need to write some code to control it all:

  • With xChips attached, code your micro:bit as normal using your favourite code editor.
  • XinaBox xChips work like any peripheral that you add to your micro:bit in that you will need to use an add-on (or ‘library’ or ‘extension’) in MakeCode or MicroPython to code it.
  • For each xChip that is micro:bit-ready we have produced a series of simple how-to guides showing you how to load the extensions into MakeCode and then how to use the extension. Look for your xChip on this page for links to the how-to guides, and other useful materials.

But engaging with technology doesn't always HAVE to involve coding!  We have provided some pre-compiled code in case you just want to get busy without coding first. 

  • The IM01 bridge has an on-board microSD card which turns your micro:bit into a powerful data logger that is capable of saving gigabyte-sized csv files.  Everything you need to build and use your data logger can be found on this webpage.
  • There are a few pre-compiled apps for the XK04 STEM kit for micro:bit - a weather station, light sensor and even a game of pong: look for the 'no-code' options on the XK04 resources page 

Learn more about XinaBox and micro:bit:

Our range is quite extensive, and most of the xChips will work with a micro:bit (if you know how).  We're building MakeCode libraries and publishing how-to guides to make it as easy to code our xChips as it is to build with them.  A list of all the xChips that are ready to use with micro:bit is on our micro:bit ready page.

We've launched 2 great kits for the BBC micro:bit:

  • The XK04 STEM kit includes sensors, an OLED screen, a servo motor and a battery pack. Take your micro:bit into the environment with this great kit, or use it to build automation projects. The kit includes the IM01 interface, which connects your micro:bit to the xChips and turns your micro:bit into a data logger. And the weather and light sensors are compatible with the data logger app - plug them in, run the data logger and the sensor data is recorded onto the microSD card.
read more about the XK04 or purchase the XK04.  
  • The XK05 IoT kit for micro:bit provides the most simple way to use Wi-Fi to connect your micro:bit to the Internet of Things (IoT). We've partnered with ATT to help design an experience that is tailored to first time users.  You can also connect the kit to Azure and Ubidots easily with our tailored MakeCode blocks, or advanced users might prefer the generic MQTT blocks that allow you to connect to any MQTT platform. And you can use the IM01 interface for data logging too.
read more about the XK05 or purchase the XK05