This help document is available in the micro:bit iOS app and is developed by Insight Resources. It is published here to aid searching for help when using the app.


This app works on most models of iPad and iPhone running iOS 9.0 or above, except for some older models which do not have Bluetooth low energy capability.


Using the Home page buttons

 

  • Choose micro:bit is where you choose which micro:bit you want to use or pair a micro:bit with your iPhone or iPad.
  •  Create Code takes you to the website where you can write some code or go back and edit some code that you have already created.
  •  Flash is where you send a code file (.HEX) to your micro:bit.  You can also store and share your HEX files.
  • Monitor & control is where you can see the data detected by the sensors on the micro:bit.  You can also send messages to the LEDs and simple control instructions to the buttons and pins.  For the Monitor page to connect with the micro:bit, the HEX file in the micro:bit needs to include Bluetooth services for the types of data to be viewed.  Instructions for doing this are shown below.
  • Ideas takes you to the website where you can get ideas for micro:bit activities and examples of work from other people.

 

Using the app for the first time – Choose ‘Choose micro:bit’

To establish contact with your micro:bit, the app must perform a ‘pairing’ process with the micro:bit.  This involves the app searching for a signal from the micro:bit and exchanging a unique code by which the micro:bit can be identified and have exclusive communication with your iPad or iPhone.  You can store pairing data from any number of micro:bits and later choose one for connecting and flashing.

N.B. If you are using a brand new micro:bit for the very first time, the factory settings may have an old version of the software.  In this case you need to use a computer to visit the website www.microbit.org/ble-ios, download the latest hex file and transfer it to the micro:bit via a USB cable.

 

 Creating a program for the micro:bit – Choose ‘Create Code’

Use the ‘Create Code’ link to the micro:bit website where you can use a code editor to create your program. With JavaScript Blocks (formerly PXT) you can store program scripts in 'Projects' and use them later for editing or downloading.

When your program code is ready, the code editor has to compile the code to make a ‘HEX’ file.  This is a compact form of your program which you will send to your micro:bit.

   Tap the  ‘Download’ button in the JavaScript Blocks editor.  (If a blank page appears, close it to reveal the 'Open this page' box.)

When your HEX file is ready, open it in “micro:bit”.  You will soon return to the ‘Flash’ page. The name of your file will appear in the grey selector panel.

 

 Sending your program to the micro:bit – Choose ‘Flash’

 ‘Flashing’ is when you send a .HEX code file to the micro:bit.  The code gets stored in flash memory in one of the chips on the micro:bit, overwriting the previous code.  From a computer, a file is usually flashed by connecting a USB cable to the micro:bit, but with iPads and iPhones this app uses Bluetooth wireless to send the file.

Before the file can be sent, you may need to reset the micro:bit into "pairing mode".  (Whilst holding down buttons A and B, press and release the RESET button.) See Advice below.

Then tap the ‘Flash’ button to send the selected file to the micro:bit.

In this example ‘My file’ then downloads to the micro:bit.  When complete, the micro:bit runs your program immediately.  If you press RESET at any stage, this will force the program to run from the beginning again.

 

 View data from the micro:bit – Choose ‘Monitor & Control’

Use ‘Monitor & Control’ to detect the states of the A & B buttons, the LEDs display and the input pins, and to see the data detected by the sensors in the micro:bit:

  • acceleration

  • tilt angle

  • compass direction

  • temperature

NB The Monitor & Control panels only work when your micro:bit contains settings for the Bluetooth services.  The easiest way of ensuring this is to flash the sample file 'monitor-services' as described below.  You can monitor the data while your own program is running in your micro:bit, provided the Bluetooth services are set in the resident HEX file.


Setting the Bluetooth services:  When you create your code script with the 'JavaScript Blocks' editor, you need to include blocks for the Bluetooth services that will report each type of data.  (If 'Bluetooth' does not appear on the menu, tap 'Advanced', select 'Add package' then 'Bluetooth'.)  The available services are:

Place your selected services inside the 'On start' block. 

The sample HEX file 'monitor-services' on the Flash page of this app shows these settings.  If you flash this file to your micro:bit, it sets all the services needed for the Monitor panels to work.  (Flash 'All services' if you want to use the magnetometer.) 

You can view the sample file by tapping the 'Edit' button, which imports the file into the 'JavaScript Blocks' editor.  You can then edit the code and create your own script alongside these services.

Select the micro:bit data button to check available Bluetooth services and installed software version.

 

 Sending control commands to the micro:bit – Choose ‘Monitor & Control’

Use ‘Monitor & Control’ to send simple control commands to the micro:bit.  As with Monitor, you need to include the Bluetooth services in the resident HEX file for the types of data involved.  The available control actions are:

  • Display messages on the LEDs directly or when A or B buttons are pressed

  • Switch individual LEDs on and off to create grid patterns in real-time

  • Set the states of output pins to switch on and off external devices connected to the micro:bit 

  • Activate the micro:bit A & B buttons from a panel

  • Gamepad panel for sending gamepad commands to the micro:bit

 

 Pairing with a micro:bit

Before you can use a micro:bit with Bluetooth, it needs to be 'paired' with your iPad or iPhone.  This involves the app searching for a signal from the micro:bit and exchanging a unique code by which the micro:bit can be identified and have exclusive communication with your iPad or iPhone.  You can store pairing data from any number of micro:bits and later choose one for connecting and flashing.  The 'Choose micro:bit' page gives instructions for performing pairing.

There are two versions of the pairing process used by the micro:bit:

  • 'JustWorks Pairing' is the default version: pairing is complete as soon as you have entered the grid pattern name of your micro:bit.

  • 'Passkey Pairing' is a version with additional security: after you have entered the grid pattern name of your micro:bit, an arrow on the LEDs prompts you to press button A.  On doing this, a six-digit passcode scrolls across the LEDs; you have to memorize this and enter it in the passcode box on the screen.

The version of pairing used in your micro:bit depends upon the HEX file resident in the micro:bit (i.e. the file that was previously flashed to the micro:bit).  The choice of version is made in the 'Project settings' in the 'JavaScript Blocks' code editor before the HEX file is downloaded.

 

Removing a paired micro:bit

In normal operation pairing information is stored in both the micro:bit and your iPad or iPhone.  If you want to stop your iPad or iPhone from working with a micro:bit, you will need it to ‘forget’  the micro:bit (i.e. delete its pairing information).  To do this, open the Settings app and find the  Bluetooth section which shows a list of paired devices.  

For your micro:bit, tap and select Forget This Device.

Also, if an error occurs during the normal pairing process, an error message might ask you to make your iPad or iPhone ‘forget’  the micro:bit as above.

See FAQs for more about pairing.

 

 Advice: Flashing may require pairing mode

If your BBC micro:bit has been previously flashed with a HEX file created in the 'JavaScript Blocks' editor, you might need to reset the micro:bit into "pairing mode" before flashing a new file.  This may be avoided if the 'Bluetooth' package or the 'Devices' package was added to the editor menu when creating the script for the HEX file. 

 

Adding the Bluetooth package: Find 'Add package' in the 'Advanced' section of the menu.

   

 

 Troubleshooting Checklist

1.    If the micro:bit appears not to respond, check that it has power and that your iPad or iPhone has Bluetooth switched on.

2.    If you can’t get access to the website and code editors, check that you have an Internet connection.

3.    If flashing doesn’t work, set the micro:bit to 'pairing mode' and try again.

4.    If flashing still doesn't work, try re-pairing (Go to ‘Choose micro:bit’).

5.    If re-pairing doesn’t work, try making the iPad ‘forget’ the micro:bit

6.    If re-pairing still doesn’t work, connect the micro:bit to a computer with a USB cable and download the hex file from this site: www.microbit.org/ble-ios.   This will ensure that the micro:bit has the latest software.

 

 Acknowledgements

Version 3.0

© 2016-2017 Insight Resources.  www.insightresources.co.uk

© 2017 Micro:bit Educational Foundation.  www.microbit.org


The micro:bit iOS app has been sponsored and developed by Insight Resources in collaboration with ScienceScope Ltd.