I make no secret that I think the micro:bit is the ideal device to get kids interested with technology.
It is cheap, can be used with multiple programming languages and it has crocodile clips to make firm connections. But there is an issue and this stems from the electronics ecosystem...there aren't that many cheap and readily compatible electronc components that can be used with the micro:bit. But why is this? Well electronic components fall into a few categories, but chiefly we have surface mount and through hole components. And the majority of us that hack with Raspberry Pi and Arduino wll have lots of through hole LEDs, buttons, wires etc which have been designed for breadboard and prototyping. So how can we use them with a micro:bit?
Well this is where Pinbetween helps!
Pinbetween has no fancy electronics or flashing lights, rather it is a breakout board that enables us to use crocodile clips AND jumper wires to connect traditional through hole electronics. With Pinbetween we can reuse the same components that we use with Pi and Arduino, all with our micro:bit.
So how easy is it to use?
Slot your micro:bit in and then you are good to go!
How many pins?
Errr all of them! We have access to every GPIO pin on a micro:bit, plus lots of connections to the 3V and GND pins. So we can control LEDs, connect to SPI and I2C devices, use analog electronics all from this single board! Oh and if we need to use the croc clip connections...we can!
Does it work with all programming languages?
Yes! As this is a simple breakout board, we can use it with any programming language that the micro:bit has to offer.
So how did I test?
I chose two tests, both with MicroPython using Mu
The first test was to control an LED bar graph (well the first three LEDs) using a simple code snippet to turn them on and off.
The next test was to control a neopixel ring in two ways. First I connected the neopixels using crocodile clips and it worked flawlessly! So I can still use croc clips in projects with this board.
The next neopixel test was to connect via the pins on Pinbetween, and again this worked perfectly.
So is it any good?
Short answer Yes this is an ideal piece of kit for makers and educators.
For £6 we have something that will enable us to reuse components, and expand our projects with very cheap components.
Anything else that can do the same job?
Pimoroni also make pin:bit which performs a similar job, but we only get a small selection of GPIO pins, and there is no croc clip connections.
Kitronik Edge Connector
Kitronik offer their edge connector which gives us all the pins the micro:bit has to offer, but no croc clips.
For £6 this is a really clever and easy to use board that will extend the life of micro:bit in the classroom.