exhi:bit Pedestrian Crossing experiment board
Friday, 23 December 2016 | John
I have previously reviewed Proto-Pic's exhi:bit Prototyping System for the BBC micro:bit to which I awarded 5 stars. Shortly after receiving this the first of the new exhi:bit Pedestrian Crossing experiment boards were made available on their website. This is a purpose made printed circuit board to enable its users to write programs to replicate the sequence of events of a Pedestrian Crossing. The board is designed to plug into the ten terminals at either side of the exhi:bit prototyping system and also the four 5 volt and Ground supply pins adjacent to the micro:bit's main socket.
On board there are 10mm Red, Amber and Green LEDs to represent the traffic lights, a further two 10mm Red and Green LEDs to indicate the little red and green men. Beneath the latter are a Wait Button and 3mm Yellow LED indicator and at the bottom there is a small circular Buzzer to replicate the 'beeps' that sound when it is safe to cross. The pins to which these components are linked to the BBC micro:bit are also clearly marked and, as in the prototyping board, there is no need to have a drawing of these connections nearby to be able to program the sequence.
I have downloaded Proto-Pic's Micro Python example from the link on their website within this product's information and it runs the lights and button sequence as in a real crossing. I then attempted to program the sequence using the Microsoft Block Editor from the micro:bit.org website and found that only six of the data pins could be written to, Pins 0, 1, 2, 8, 12 and 16. There are components on the Pedestrian Crossing experiment board that are also connected to the micro:bit's Pin13 (Wait LED) and Pin 16 (Red Traffic Light). This is no problem at all when using Micro Python but there would appear to be a snag when using the basic Microsoft Block Editor. Although I had not had a close look at it before I then tried using the Microsoft PXT (Beta) Block Editor from the same micro:bit.org website and, lo and behold, all digital output pins are available in this package. Being a seasoned user of the original Block Editor I was very quickly able to put together a sequence of blocks to replicate the events of a Pedestrian Crossing. I assume that this Beta version of the Block Editor will eventually replace the original one. So far I have found no problems when using this Beta version, it has many extra and useful blocks which are equally suitable for more advanced users and they certainly work very well with Proto-Pic's exhi:bit Pedestrian Crossing experiment board.
Another winner from Proto-Pic and I am now looking forward to using it with my 5 and 6 year old 'techie' grandsons during the Christmas holiday period.
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