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Disco Lights controlled by a Micro:Bit running Micro Python

I've been playing around with a BBC Micro:Bit for the last few days. You can see my first adventures in programming MicroPython on the Micro:Bit using a Raspberry Pi 2.

One of the first things that you normally do when learning electronics is to light up an LED. It gives an immediate output and adds a bit of a wow factor as the student feels they've accomplished something. All well and good, but a little red LED is not that impressive. So I thought what about a bigger LED, what above a bright LED would that be a bit more impressive? What if they were mini-theatre lights bright enough to make an impact at your school disco!

Here they are - PAR16 mini-theatre lights controlled by a Micro:Bit.

LED PAR 16 disco lights controlled by a micro:bit programmed using MicroPython from a Raspberry Pi

Warning

A quick word of warning. If you create this the way that I have then these are pretty safe, but if you try and do something silly (like use mains powered lights) then you could cause serious injury or cause a fire.

Video of Disco Lights in action

Circuit

Below is the circuit showing one of the connections (on PIN 2). This would be repeated for each light.

Micro:Bit disco light circuit on a breadboard

There are 3 connectors on the micro:bit that can be connected directly using crocodile clips. If you need more than 3 lights then you will need to use a microbit breakout board to access more of the pins on the micro:bit. The breakout board is also included in the micro:bit inventors kit.

MicroPython code

The following is the code to make 4 lights flash in sequence. This uses pins 0 to 2 which are the ones that can be connected using a crocodile clip and pin 3 which is the left-most connector on the edge connector. You will likely need a breakout board to access that connection.

To use just three lights then you can delete the lines referring to pin 3.



from microbit import *



while True:

    pin0.write_digital(1)

    pin1.write_digital(0)

    pin2.write_digital(0)

    pin3.write_digital(0)

    sleep(500)

    pin0.write_digital(0)

    pin1.write_digital(1)

    pin2.write_digital(0)

    pin3.write_digital(0)

    sleep(500)

    pin0.write_digital(0)

    pin1.write_digital(0)

    pin2.write_digital(1)

    pin3.write_digital(0)

    sleep(500)

    pin0.write_digital(0)

    pin1.write_digital(0)

    pin2.write_digital(0)

    pin3.write_digital(1)

    sleep(500)

Note that this code is pretty long for just turning for lights on and off - imagine if there were 8 lights instead. Can you think of a way to simplify it?

Summary

This is a simple circuit that can have a big impact. The code is very basic and there are lots of ways it can be improved and to add different sequences etc. A good point to start experimenting.


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