Arducam Mini Is the First to Add Machine Vision to the BBC micro:bit

2MP Arducam Mini adds drag-and-drop pictures to MakeCode projects.

James Lewis
a year agoHW101

Until now, micro:bit projects involving cameras were limited to servo control for positioning a wireless camera module. Arducam wrote a library to add support for their Arducam Mini to the BBC micro:bit. The platform dedicated to teaching programming now has support for machine vision.

"This means you can feed the image data directly into Micro:bit’s MCU and preview the output in your browser, in layman’s terms, the Micro:bit has an eye now." — Arducam

Anyone looking to add a camera to their Arduino project probably knows about the Arducam Mini. Despite its name, the two-megapixel camera module communicates with many microcontrollers over its I2C or SPI interface. The maker of the module, Arducam, is the first manufacturer to extend camera (vision) support to the micro:bit! Arducam mini uses the SPI pins available on the micro:bit's expansion board.

The BBC micro:bit is a card-sized microcontroller platform that has LEDs, sensors, and buttons. While you can program it with C/C++ or Python, there is significant support for the visually-based MakeCode from Microsoft.

Drag-and-drop programming combined with an unassuming form factor makes the micro:bit an excellent electronics and programming teaching tool. Until now, however, there were no vision options for micro:bit projects. We did a quick search and only found projects that could position a camera module with servos.

Connecting Arducam Mini to the micro:bit requires the additional expansion header board and a couple of solder joints. Once connected, an extension for MakeCode adds support for the module. After you drop the block into the workspace, you only need to select the image format and resolution. With that, the micro:bit can now take pictures!

Teachers using the micro:bit today can add the Arducam Mini module, enabling them to add machine vision to their curriculum. As of today, only still images are supported in MakeCode. Arducam says they are working on adding support for video in the future.

The software plugin is available now, and various outlets sell the Arducam Mini module for around 26 USD. For more information, head over to this Arducam Mini for micro:bit tutorial.

James Lewis
Fan of making things that blink, fly, or beep. Host on element14 Presents, baldengineer.com, AddOhms, and KN6FGY.
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