BBC admits to micro:bit delay, power problems

September 18, 2015 // 11:12 a.m.

Tags: #bbc #bbc-micro #codebug #coding #education #make-it-digital #microbit-micro-bit #microcontroller #programming

The BBC has admitted that it will miss the October launch for its micro:bit educational microcontroller, following problems with the device's power circuitry.

Unveiled back in March, the micro:bit - then known as the Micro Bit - forms the central core of the BBC's new Make It Digital educational initiative. Inspired by the Computer Literacy Project of the 1980s, the broadcaster intends to provide every Year 7 pupil in the UK with a free micro:bit of their own, which they can program to light up an on-board grid of LEDs or interface with external hardware through clip-friendly pads.

The broadcaster had originally intended to release the micro:bit in October, unveiling a revised design back in July. Sadly, that revision appears to be responsible for a hiccough in the roll-out, and the October date has now been scrapped. 'We've decided to make some minor revisions to the way power is supplied around the board, as this was affecting a few devices in rare and isolated instances,' explained the BBC's head of learning Sinead Rocks in a blog post this week. 'This will have an impact on our timings for distribution but we are working hard to make sure you get your micro:bits as quickly as possible.'

That impact means that the promised free devices won't be arriving in schools until the new year, although Rocks has indicated that Year 7 teachers will be receiving hardware pre-Christmas to allow them time to familiarise themselves with the micro:bit. To that end, a website featuring embedded code editors and a simulator which allows users to write programs for the device prior to launch is also being made available.

The micro:bit has been beaten to market by the CodeBug, the original design of which acted as inspiration for the BBC's device, following a successful Kickstarter campaign.
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