Category: microbit

Choosing your Python editing weapon

Well a few days passed since I got a micro:bit… Started out with MakeCode to play around with it, but the goal was python. For this I switched to mu-editor at first. A great editor… I like the check en tidy function. But I missed the simulator I had in MakeCode. Of course you can (and must) run your code on the physical micro:bit but a simulator is great for testing and trying little pieces of code. But I accepted the fact that mu-editor and python coding didn’t had a simulator.

Then I picked up a “old” tool from the shed on my Macbook, Visual Studio code. I started to use it again to edit shell scripts because brackets announced to stop service this coming summer. Why not pop in python script in there. This editor offered me to install python extensions. And I started exploring the nets of inter what was possible with VScode.

And I came across Device Simulator Express, an extension for VScode. Just the tool I needed to have my micro:bit simulated in VScode. Just open the extensions tab in VScode and look for “Device Simulator Express” and install the beast.

There is one pitfall in installing this extension. After installing the extension en pressing shift-command-p to open de command-pane : enter “device simulator express : New file”. This will install some more dependencies and you might run in the problem that you get a message “Device Simulator Express: Install Extension Dependencies”. Telling you the install failed.

When pressing shift-command-p and giving the command “Device Simulator Express: Install Extension Dependencies” as instructed, you will find that they will never get installed and you end up with a reoccurring error all the time. This seems to have something to do with python 3.9. You can fix this doing the following:

On Python 3.9:
Edit the file "\users\<user>\.vscode\extensions\ms-python.devicesimulatorexpress-2020.0.36321\out\requirements.txt" and changed the line


Restart VScode and press shift-command-p and give the command “Device Simulator Express: Install Extension Dependencies” again. Now the dependencies get installed nicely.

What I extra installed was a linter. Shift-command-p : Python: Select Linter and select “flake8”. Sometimes you need to restart VS-code to force install-popup for flake8. Now you have error-highting in the editor as you go.

And what I also installed was code formatter for python. Press shift-option-f: install formatter : install autopep8. This little baby formats your code. Cut the extra white-space. Correct the indenting. All kind of stuff.

I stopped using Windows at home for more than 11 years and left everything from Microsoft alone, switching to Apple and got the complete fruitbasket with all it’s products. But VScode has surprised me and it’s gonna stay for python editing……


Twitter: @marc0janssen

Starbit Commander II

Well on my quest to learn python, I poked and peeked around on the web of inters. And came across some nice sites about the micro:bits, projects and coding.

One site inspired me to create a python version of Starbit Commander. This site is home to a lot of projects of Derek Graham. Next to Micro:bit bits, he has a lot of other stuff too on his site.

But why remake of Starbit Commander? Derek has this nice example of “Tiny Astroids”, which resembled a lot like Starbit Commander. And he created it in Python… sooo.. mine Starbit Commander should get a python version too… In this little gem from Derek, he created a really really nice piece of code that animated an explosion on this 5×5 led display. I loved it. And although I wanted to create Starbit from scratch in OO, I really wanted to adopt this nice little tiny explosion.. So I contacted Derek via twitter, asked if he agreed me borrowing his explosion-code. we had a short but very nice chat on twitter and he agreed for the code to be reuse in Starbit Commander. Thanks Derek!

Well, I wanted to test and learn more python and also OO in python. So I decided to try to make Starbit Commander in an OO-style. I have no experience in this but I think (as far as I can tell) this is an OO-version of the game now. Derek mentioned on micro:bit V1’s coding OO would let you ran into out of memory errors. I haven’t seen them on the microbit V2 with Starbit Commander. (Now I’m worried if I did a proper OO-coding style ;-0)

I differed a bit from the original Starbit code. While de MakeCode version has power-ups to collect, in this python-version I decided to skip that and make the astroidfield a bit more challenging by starting slow and easy and ending fast and astroid-crowded. Giving you more and more bonus score along the way you go.

This code can by found here. And watch that explosion… Thanks again Derek Graham!


Twitter: @marc0janssen

Micro:bit Fireflies

My first attempt to write some (micro)Python code. Fireflies. This leds simulate fireflies in the air…

btw. I found that display.get_pixel does not return the correct value for the brightness of a led on a micro:bit. I created this function to correct this behavior in the code (fixPixelBug).

from microbit import *
import random

# This fucntions fixes the "display.get_pixel" bug.
# a full bright led does not return a "9" but a "255".
def fixPixelBug(brightness):
    if brightness == 4:
        return 3
    elif brightness == 8:
        return 4
    elif brightness == 16:
        return 5
    elif brightness == 32:
        return 6
    elif brightness == 64:
        return 7
    elif brightness == 128:
        return 8
    elif brightness == 255:
        return 9
        return brightness

while True:

    brightness = random.randint(1, 9)
    x = random.randint(0, 4)
    y = random.randint(0, 4)
    if display.get_pixel(x, y) == 0:
        display.set_pixel(x, y, brightness)

    for fireflies in range(0, 5):
        x = random.randint(0, 4)
        y = random.randint(0, 4)

        if fixPixelBug(display.get_pixel(x, y)) > 0:
            display.set_pixel(x, y, fixPixelBug(display.get_pixel(x, y)) - 1)


Twitter: @marc0janssen

Simple Simon Says

The game Simon in the late 70’s was maybe the first “computer” game I played. Well maybe it was a real computer. I was just a kid, but the game stayed always with me. In my mind that is. The game was from a friend and we played it for ages.

Now with the Micro:bit I wanted to revive this memory and use the Micro:bit as a vehicle to get this to life again. Below is my make code attempt. I used an Micro:bit version2 for this.

This Simon listens to Buton A, Button B, Button C (the touch sensitive logo), Button D (= Button A+B).

It was fun to create and a good way to set me off with the possibilities of the Micro:bit…

To edit this repository in MakeCode.


Twitter: @marc0janssen

Starbit Commander

This game is my first coding for The BBC Micro:bit. The goal is to have a nice target to practice and learn microPython on this device. But first I wanted to have a go on the makeCode editor for the Micro:bit.

I made this simple little game. Flying a spaceship through an astroidfield. Sometimes a blinking power-up will appear. This gives a the advance to survive an astroid collision. Catching two power-ups will destroy all astroids in the field. Astroids will speed up in time but slow down if a double power-up is acquired.

To edit this repository in MakeCode.


Twitter: @marc0janssen