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.
If you are using a new micro:bit for the first time, make sure that it contains the latest software. This has to be done by connecting the micro:bit to a computer with a USB cable and downloading the hex file from this site:
Make sure that your micro:bit is powered up and within easy reach of the iPad or iPhone running this app.
Make sure that your iPad or iPhone has Bluetooth switched on. You can check this from the Settings 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’
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.
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:
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.
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.)
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.
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
Adding the Bluetooth package: Find 'Add package' in the 'Advanced' section of the menu.
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.
© 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.