Thursday, July 28, 2022

Jacdac and Micro:Bit 2.0–First Look

Learning about Jacdac devices was my incentive to buy a Micro:Bit 2.0 The Micro:Bit 2.0 has a number of upgrades and new features from the original. These include a microphone and a speaker among others. That is probably justification enough to get an upgrade but being curious about the Jacdac devices, which requires the newer model, was the deciding factor. I am really enjoying spending time with external devices and the Jacdac devices are really easy to use.

I purchased the Micro:Bit from AdaFruit (micro:bit v2 Go Bundle - Batteries and USB Cable Included) Actually I bought two  because, well, why not? I bought the Kittenbot Jacdac Kit for micro:bit V2 from KittenBot My hope is that more manufacturers and suppliers will be offering Jacdac over time.

The kit comes with:

  • Jacdac Adapter – connects with Micro:Bit
  • Slider
  • Rotary Button
  • RGB Ring
  • 2 Keycap buttons
  • Magnetic Sensor
  • Light Sensor
  • Hub – for connecting even more devices
  • 5 cables of different lengths

Each part is labeled and has a QR code that will take you to documentation for that device. I took full advantage of that. One thing I learned the hard way but would have learned if I read the documentation is that the adapter has a switch that determines if the Micro:Bit powers the Jacdac devices or if the Jacdac (and some external power supply TBD) powers the Micro:Bit. Things worked much better with the switch in the right direction.

Once I got everything out and read some documentation I had to try something out. I started with the RGB Ring and the Rotary Button.  I started with individual example programs and then created my own. I had the rotor determine which LEDs were lit. Going backwards (negative numbers) had some issues of course. I might leave solving that to students if I were doing this in class.

I recommend starting at MakeCode Integration before you get to far on your own. It will step you though adding the Jacdac extensions to MakeCode, connecting to your Micro:Bit, and  other helpful information.

BTW, from MakeCode you can program using blocks (very easy) as well as either JavaScript or Python. You can move back and forth between languages as well. A lot of potential for learners there.

Next up I will be trying to think of some larger projects as well as experimenting with other sensors and gadgets.  I may even cut some boxes with my laser engraver for some projects. Making boxes with 3D printers is also an obvious thing to do.

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