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Although the BBC MicroBit is a good educational product for learning MicroPython, we don't use it in our MicroPython courses for the following reason:

  1. Price - The current price on sites like Amazon is around $22. We can get the Raspberry Pi Pico for $4.
  2. Availability - MicroBits have not been available due to shortages of chips that it needs.
  3. Memory - The MicroBit only has 32KB of RAM. The Pico has 256K. We need this extra RAM for our OLED display labs.
  4. Breadboard - We use simple, standardized, easy-to-upgrade breadboards in our classes. This makes it easy to upgrade our microcontrollers and promotes higher sustainability. We also believe that teaching breadboarding skills is critical for future projects.
  5. Expandability - we like the ability to expand our base labs to include many low costs sensors
  6. Multi-Core - we want to be able to teach multi-core coding in our classrooms. Because the MicroBit only has a single core this is not possible on the MicroBit. The Raspberry Pi Pico has two cores. Many projects use one core for monitoring the sensors and another core for doing analysis and updating the display.
  7. Pulse Width Modulation Channels - The MicroBit only has 3 PWM channels. We need a minimum of 4 to drive our robots.

Side-By-Side Comparision

Feature Name MicroBit v2 Raspberry Pi Pico Notes
Price $22 $4 The Pico "W" with wireless is $6
Breadboard No Yes Allows us to teach breadboarding skills
RAM 32MB 256MB We need around 100MB to support our 128x64 OLED frame buffers
Flash 2MB 512MB We use extra flash to store hundreds of programs, images and sounds
Sensors Temp,Accelerometers,Compass,Light,Touch Temp For about $5 we can add these sensors to the Pico
Processor ARM Cortex-M4 Dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+ The M4 has better support for DSP and floating point
LEDs 25 1 We use 8X8 LEDs and NeoPixels in our labs to create similar displays
Block Programming Microsoft MakeCode BIPES Block coding is great for younger students that don't have strong keyboarding skills
GPIOs 20 26 This has not been a concern. None of our labs need over 20 GPIOs
ADCs 5 3 Also not a concern. None of our labs need more that 3 Analog to Digital converters that run concurrently
Serial Bus 1 I2C, 1 SPI 2x UART, 2x I2C, 2x SPI, up to 16 PWM channels
Pulse Width Modulation 3 16 We need 4 PWM to drive our robots (a forward and back for each motor)

Sample Sources