What’s the most popular development board among makers recently? Of course, it must be micro:bit board. Under the cooperation of technic giant companies such as BBC, Microsoft, Samsung and NXP, micro:bit board is endowed a halo of noble class since its birth. Last year, British government had delivered 1 million pieces of micro:bit board to students at grade 7. This has even put the explosive trend of micro:bit into a climax. Then will the popularity of micro:bit be a phenomenon continues or a flower withered in next minute? Or there will be another board in the same important level as Arduino board? With these questions in mind, I am going to make a comparison between micro:bit and Arduino from the aspects of hardware and software.
Because Arduino board has multiple model numbers, here we use theofficial UNO board to make comparison.
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Step 1: Outlook of Micro:bit：
Micro:bit board presents a round chamfering outllook with small size. In the front side, there are two buttons and a 5*5 LED dot matrix; while in the back side, there are USB port, reset button, battery socket and various chips. The most intuitive feeling is the welding and silk-screen of the whole circuit board is very exquisite. Usually in our impression, development board is spead with all kinds of components and pins in the surface. But the whole micro:bit board do not have any pins. All IO ports are led out from the connector in its board edge.
There are 5 circles in the connetor. They are P0, P1, P2, VCC and GND separately.
Step 2: Outlook of Arduino:
Arduino has a quite different characteristics. Its outlook is more closing to development board in our impressions. On the board, there are a master chip, a USB port and an AC power connector. On the rim of the board, there are full of female headers.
We can see from its outlook that the design conception of micro:bit and Arduino are quite different. Micro:bit values small more about size and security, then its extension ability. While Arduino focus on fully dig out the extension ability of the board, which makes it look more geek style.
Step 3: Performance
|Processor||32 bit ARM Cortex M0||8 bit AVR|
|Display||5*5 LED dot matrix||1 LED|
|Button||2 undefined buttons||none|
|Powered By||UAB/ Battery Case||USB/AC power|
From the above form, we can see that micro:bit has almost succeeded in all aspects than Arduino. It can be called a small board contains huge power. Of course, the birth of micro:bit board is several years late than Arduino UNO. So it is no wonder that micro:bit has succeeded in its CPU performance. What amazing is micro:bit has integrated Bluetooth, digital compass, accelerometer, LED dot matrix on its small body. No matter it is the official Arduino board or from the third party, they do not carry so much sensors on its board. Even if micro:bit do not connect any sensor, we can complete lots of cases with various sensors carried on its board only.
Step 4: Software
Support online simulation
Reserve the program is as convenient as U disk.
Besides, micro:bit support the surrent main-stream Python language too.
To program for Arduino, you have to download an IDE into your computer. Arduino supports C language.
There also has graphic program language based on scratch that developed by other third party companies.
The threshold for using Arduino programming software is much higher. But IDEis just a tool. The software extension ability is more important. Through years of development, under the hard work of both open hardware companies and Arduino fans, it has accumulated a lot of library files. In the aspect of software extension, Arduino is much better than micro:bit.
Step 5: Conclusion
From the above comparison, we can see that no matter in the aspect of hardware or software, micro:bit has succeeded Arduino. Powerful hardware platform and friendly programming interface make this small board obtain an advantage that surpass Arduino. However, wether a development board has a long life span does not depend on how powerful hardware it has, nor how beautiful software it owns, but more importantly about whether its ecological environment is thriving. Throught about 10 years of accumulation and the co-work of technical companies and open source fans, the rich extension of the whole Arduino system can be said to have reached an almost complete degree.
Of course, micro:bit do not willing to admit its weakness. Born with British official blood, micro:bit is currently promoted by British non-profit organizations in the global areas. Under the promotion of British government, more and more primary or middle school students start their trial to use micro:bit as an entry programming education tool. More and more teachers, developers, or even artists have uploaded their projects to micro:bit communities. The present ecological system, although it is weaker than Arduino, the growing trend is fierce that you might not look down upon it.
Micro:bit is much smaller, beautiful and easy to handle. While Arduino is more geek style with more extensions. We migth be able to say that they have supplimentary relationship rather than compition. The target users of Micro:bit are the people who enters maker area at the first time or entry level players. They are mostly the beginners to study micro:bit, while Arduino is facing higher level players, which are mostly developers.
Both micro:bit and Arduino have cut down the threshold of program and hardware development, which enable more students to realize their groundless project ideas and make the word “maker” no longer be the pronoun of few people.
Step 6: Source
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