Bloke launches twinkly range of BBC Micro:bit accessory boards

zbit:connect, as built by one-time Nexsan man

The zbit:connect stand at IoT Tech Expo 2017
The zbit:connect stand at IoT Tech Expo

Pics A one-time storage hardware designer has launched a range of add-on boards for the BBC Micro:bit.

Nevil Hunt – formerly a hardware designer for enterprise storage stuff firm Nexsan – was exhibiting his wares at the IoT Tech Expo, which took place in London’s Olympia conference centre earlier this week.

“Kids are turned off by doing PowerPoints and Word documents at school,” Hunt told The Register. “We need to get them coding.”

Hunt’s zbit:connect range slots into a standard off-the-BBC’s-shelves Micro:bit, as the photos below show.

The idea is to allow expansion of the Micro:bit in the X, Y and Z axes. "It's like giving children Lego blocks. This is how they bolt together, off you go,” said Hunt.

“Modern computers don’t have a qwerty keyboard and monitor. They look like this,” he continued, gesturing at his smartphone. “We need to teach kids to program modern computers.”

A zbit:microbit, designed by Nevil Hunt

Modern computer: A BBC Micro:bit with a zbit:connect board attached

The zbit:connect range includes, and is not limited to, the vibrating zbit:shaker*, a proximity sensor, a light sensor, and various wireless connectivity options.

A chain of zbit: family boards, designed by Nevil Hunt

A chain of zbit:connect boards on top of a Raspberry Pi

Crafty use of the attached options allows the creation of a passable mobile phone concept demonstrator, complete with speaker, vibrate function and display, of which there's a picture here.

“I’ve designed my own custom elastometric connector,“ said Hunt. This allows the zbit device to talk to its associated Micro:bit.

zbit:pidapter, designed by Nevil Hunt

zbit:pidapter, designed by Nevil Hunt of Innovations in Education

The boards are supplied unsoldered - Hunt pointed out that this makes them both cheaper and "more flexible for the end user" and the special show sale price of £10. Keep an eye on the zbit:connect website for more information. ®

Bootnote

* As in “small electric motor rotating an asymmetric weight to make your phone vibrate”, not “intimate massager”, you dirty-minded people.

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