Sunday, January 13, 2019

Roger Wagner's MakerBit and Robo:Bunny

Roger Wagner's MakerBit is an impressive board for micro:bit projects with tons of very well thought through connectivity options, all of which are plug and play, leaving my soldering iron looking sad and neglected on its shelf!

You can buy MakerBit in several forms. As a standalone product, there are two variants. I used the MakerBit R which has additional features for robotics projects compared to the standard MakerBit. You can also get MakerBit in various kits with a wealth of additional components included for you to use in your maker projects.

You can of course invent your own projects, but MakerBit comes with several activity ideas to get you started. They're really well documented and I opted to follow the one for making a "smart car".

Interestingly, there's no chassis provided for the smart car project. Instead, you're encouraged to improvise and reuse a handy cardboard box, perhaps the one your MakerBit came in! I really like this idea. Anything which encourages kids to consider reuse and recycling is good in my book.

I built a "robot bunny" with interchangeable stick on face and programmed the micro:bit so I could control it from either the D-Pad UI or the touchpad UI of Bitty Controller.

My micro:bit code is available for you to use or adapt for your own Bitty Controller projects, as you see fit. See http://www.bittysoftware.com/tutorials.html#controller

MakerBit is highly recommended. I expect I'll be using it for other projects in the future, not just bunny related ones!

Here's a video to close this post with. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Bitty Controller 2.2.0

A new version of Bitty Controller was released today. A great start to 2019!

The new version offers a 5th user interface variant which is designed to let you drive a machine of some sort *and* control ancillary features of the machine like LEDs and servos. From the options screen you can enable up to 12 buttons and give each a short text label. These buttons will then appear either side of the main touchpad control.

Pressing a button sends a Bluetooth event with ID=9016 and a value equal to the button number in the range 1 - 12 inclusive.

I transformed a GiggleBot into my very own robot dog and used the new UI to take it for a spin. At times... literally. As you'll see, it's very evident from the enthusiastically wagging tail that robodog is a happy dog :-)


Full source code for a MakeCode project is available from the Bitty Software web site as well as a ready made hex file.

Go on! Have a giggle with Bitty Controller and GiggleBot!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

No more DRAW A CIRCLE

Bitty Data Logger users will probably have played with the micro:bit's magnetometer (AKA digital compass) at some point, as will many other micro:bit users, with or without the involvement of Bluetooth.

The magnetometer needs to be calibrated in the environment in which it is to be used, for accurate data to be acquired from it. Originally, simply including the MakeCode "Bluetooth magnetometer service" block was enough to both make the magnetometer data available over Bluetooth *and* initiate the calibration procedure automatically when the micro:bit code started. If you've seen this happen, you'll know that the old procedure starts with the text "DRAW A CIRCLE" scrolling across the micro:bit screen. A single LED then appears and by rotating the microbit with its edge facing upwards, you light each LED on the outer edge of the display. Once a complete "circle" has been drawn, calibration is complete and your micro:bit will continue starting up.

Here's a very simple MakeCode project that could be used with Bitty Data Logger to log magnetometer data:



Things changed in the latest release of the micro:bit firmware (known as the DAL). Now, calibration does not happen automatically. To calibrate your micro:bit's magnetometer you must now explicitly request this in code. There's a block available for just this purpose so you could, for example initiate magnetometer calibration when button A is pressed, like this:


This change may affect Bitty Data Logger users. Magnetometer data will not stream into the micro:bit, even with the right code on the micro:bit until you have calibrated it. Luckily it's possible to initiate calibration from within the Settings screen of Bitty Data Logger:


That's it! Happy data logging!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

GiggleBot and Bitty Controller

GiggleBot is a wheeled "bot" from Dexter Industries which you control with a BBC micro:bit.



There are quite a few bots available for micro:bit enthusiasts now, but this one does have a certain je ne sais qoi. Perhaps it's the integral line following and light level sensors or maybe it's the neopixels mounted on its surface. Or maybe it's the expansion possibilities, with multiple points to connect external sensors and dedicated connectors for up to two servos. Or perhaps its the slot through which you can drop a marker pen so that your GiggleBot can draw as you drive. Either way, GiggleBot is full featured, full of potential for some very exciting educational projects and on the whole, tres, tres cool. Oui. Le GiggleBot, c'est bon (with apologies to French speakers everywhere!).

It's also a tough little bot. I drove mine right off the top of a table and it landing with a sickening "crunch" on a hard, wooden floor. Not a problem. GiggleBot shrugged off the impact and got right back to work.

And giggling GiggleBots, Batman! GiggleBot has the best name too :-)

But enough of my thoughts on GiggleBot, already. What's this?

GiggleBot and Bitty Controller work together!


"Really? Oh wow!" I hear you say! Well, yes kind reader, it is indeed true. With the right code on your micro:bit, you can use the GiggleBot's I2C interface to take full control, driving your GiggleBot from your phone using the Bitty Controller app or web browser using BittyWeb. You can also collect sensor data and display it on Bitty Controller's enhanced touchpad controller UI.

C'est magnifique! And it really is :-)


Here's a video demonstration for your viewing pleasure.



You'll find code and information about using Bitty Controller with a GiggleBot right here.

And more information on GiggleBot itself at https://www.gigglebot.io/


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Bitty Event Monitor V1.0 now available

BittyWeb now has a new application called Bitty Event Monitor.

Monitor anything you like using your micro:bit and report significant events to this BittyWeb application and it will indicate whatever is going on with the colour and text that you choose. Suitable for a huge range of classroom and maker projects, you could monitor temperature bands, atmospheric pressure ranges or motion. If you can measure it on a micro:bit using the right code, you can report different states to Bitty Event Monitor for it to indicate visually on your screen.

Watch this video of Bitty Event Monitor working with a micro:bit running some simple temperature monitoring code:




Code for the temperature monitor is available here:

http://www.bittysoftware.com/tutorials/event_monitoring_temperature.html

Sign up to use BittyWeb today and get everyone in class involved!

https://www.bittysoftware.com/bittyweb/signup.php


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Bitty Polyhedra V1.0 now available in BittyWeb

BittyWeb has a new application. It's called Bitty Polyhedra and it's designed to help teach and learn about 3D geometric shapes known as polyhedra. Start by loading our hex file onto your micro:bit or follow the Bitty Software tutorial to make your own. Then, in BittyWeb go into the Bitty Polyhedra application, scan for your micro:bit, select and connect to it.

From there you can explore shapes in the shape library, rotating 3D images of the selected shape on screen using your micro:bit as a controller, tilting or rotating to control the shape on screen.

Test your knowledge by taking a quiz!

Lots of fun and educational too.

Sign up for a BittyWeb account at https://www.bittysoftware.com/bittyweb/signup.php

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Changes to Bitty Controller, Bitty Blue and micro:bit blue

This week sees some important changes made to Bitty Blue, Bitty Controller and micro:bit blue. The d-pad controller in micro:bit blue has been removed and similarly, the on/off switch control has been removed from Bitty Blue. The on/off controller is now available in Bitty Controller, where logically, it belongs. Bitty Blue and micro:bit blue are both free of charge but Bitty Controller is a paid for application, albeit with a very low price. This change has been made to rationalise the functionality in each application and eliminate duplication. Commercial pressures also play a part and it is hoped that users of Bitty Software applications will not object to helping to fund the running of Bitty Software so that applications for micro:bit can continue to be offered.