There are lots of robot platforms on the market. Many cater for the beginner, and some cater for the advanced maker. But what about those of us in between? We want a board that will enable us to create sophisticated robots, but we also need a little help. Well, the All-in-one Robotics Board for BBC micro:bit from Kitronik offers plenty for every level of maker! So let’s take a look!
This board looks very similar to other robot boards from Kitronik, and that is for a good reason, because it is exceptional! Providing a slot into which we can insert the micro:bit, we see a series of breakout connections around the board. Starting with four screw terminals, each is used to control an individual motor. Yes, we can build four-wheel drive robots thanks to two dual H-bridge motor controllers (DRV8833 a popular choice in hobbyist robotics) which are supplied power from an external source, up to 10.8V which is then regulated to 3.3V to power the micro:bit in the slot, handy! But these motor connections can also be used to control two stepper motors, precise if slow motors that enable consistently reproducible movement. So this means we can build robots to emulate Mars rovers in class!
But the board has another treasure trove of outputs and these come in a column of 24 2.54mm pitch pins which break out connections for up to eight servos. These can be continuous or standard servos and they attach directly to the board using their female header connections. So easy!
But there is one last surprise on this board. A thin column of gold pads are on the right side of the board and these breakout the full GPIO (General Purpose Input Output) of the micro:bit. Which means that we can use this board to connect our micro:bit to a breadboard project, enabling access to a vast number of components. These pads require a little soldering, but that is not something to fear. To use the pins we need to insert the micro:bit so that it is facing the pins. But this does not affect the other functions of the board.
Programming the all in one board is simple thanks to Kitronik creating an extension package for use with Makecode. Simply install using the Advanced > Extensions menu and search for ‘Kitronik-robotics-board’ and away you go! The Makecode blocks library has blocks covering standard DC motors, steppers and servos.
Kitronik has also provided a MicroPython library that again offers a simple and accessible way to control every element of the board. So Pythonistas are well catered for! Just head over to https://github.com/KitronikLtd/micropython-microbit-kitronik-robotics and grab the files.
So why should you buy this board? In a word ‘simplicity’. This single board offers a vast amount of connections that can bring movement both simple and precise to our projects. This simplicity extends to how we connect, use and write code for the board. We can build a robotics project with great ease and the Makecode extension enables anyone to write the code that will power their project. If your project is Python-based, then the MicroPython library is a joy to use and simple to copy to the micro:bit.
This is a great board and it deserves to power your robots! It will serve you well when creating motorised projects and for breadboarding! Great value for money!