Custom Android control of the BBC micro:bit
by Matthew Ford 15th January 2017
(original 6th October 2016)
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2017: Lancaster Uni is changing the micro:bit UART service (issue
pfodApp supports both the old and new style services so this change will not effect pfodApp users.
Update: 21st December 2106 – Fixing paring with Pixel
If you are having problems paring with Pixel or other Android 7.1 mobiles, implement the 500mS delay shown in this GitHub pull request #225
The BBC micro:bit has been distributed to every child in Year 7 (ages 11-12) across the UK, free. Commercial versions of the micro:bit are now becoming available. While the micro:bit as a lot of useful features, one significant drawback is that is used Bluetooth LE to communicate with mobiles. This means you usually have to be an experienced Android or IOS programmer to create a custom mobile interface.
pfodApp solves this problem by being a general purpose Android app that can connect via Bluetooth LE, Bluetooth Classic, Wifi/Ethernet or SMS. pfodApp lets you display custom menus/sub-menus charts etc all completely configured and controlled by small text strings sent by the micro:bit or other micro.
The free pfodDesignerV2 can be used to create these menus and charts and then generate the code required to load into the target card.
This covers an example of using pfodDesignerV2 to design a custom Android menu to control the BBC micro:bit's outputs and read and plot and log its inputs. pfodDesignerV2 generate the C++ code for the micro:bit to communicate with pfodApp to display your custom menu and charts.
The code generated by pfodDesignerV2 is C++ code so you will need to set up a C++ compiler for the micro:bit. Follow the steps here to set up Netbeans for off-line building of programs for the micro:bit.
Once you have set up the compiler you can try out some of the sample programs
There is also a page on Getting Started with micro:bit C++ which covers debugging, fibers and monitors and semaphores.
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