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BBC micro:bit Controlled Crane Step By Step

In January we were one of the three partners of the BBC showcasing the BBC microbit at the BETT Show 2016 with our BBC micro:bit controlled crane. Our BBC microbit controlled crane was a great draw and many of you have asked how to build your own. Now you can thanks to this easy to follow step by step guide!

BBC micro:bit controlled crane _stand_870

We'll guide you through customising a toy crane so that it can be controlled with a BBC microbit, using the Kitronik Motor Driver Board for the BBC microbit and the BBC microbit's built-in accelerometer to detect tilt and turn motions.

BBC micro:bit controlled crane _crane_built_870

Using the accelerometer in the BBC microbit to detect in which direction it is being tilted (x or y axis) we can feed that information back to the motors within the crane. If the BBC microbit is held flat with the LEDs facing upwards it will read X and Y as zero as shown in the diagram below: X and Y become larger or smaller (negative), depending on in which direction it is tilted.

BBC micro:bit controlled crane tilt to control_crane graphic_870

Learn how to:

  • Code the BBC microbit to control a crane via the built-in accelerometer.
  • Convert a toy crane into a BBC microbit controlled crane.

 

Parts List:

BBC micro:bit controlled crane _crane_parts_870

To make the BBC micro:bit controlled crane you will need the following electronic components:

For the casing options for the controller you can either use our laser cut template:

Or alternatively for an off the shelf solution:

You will also require the following equipment:

 

Step by Step Guide to building the BBC micro:bit controlled crane

Step 1

Build the toy crane as described in the instructions that are supplied with it.

BBC micro:bit controlled crane _crane_step_1_870

Step 2

Remove the supplier controller by cutting the cable. Do this near to the controller to leave as much cable as possible.

BBC micro:bit controlled crane _step_2_870

Step 3:

Strip away a section of the black insulation and then strip the insulation off the end of each of the four internal wires, leaving the copper internal wire exposed.

BBC micro:bit controlled crane _step_3_870

Step 4

Connect the blue and yellow wire to the ‘Motor 1’ input on the Kitronik Motor Driver board and the red and white wire into the ‘Motor 2’ input (see below).

BBC micro:bit controlled crane _step_4_870

Step 5

Insert the batteries into the battery holder and connect it to the power terminal on the Motor Driver Board for the BBC microbit. The battery pack has as on/off switch to turn on the power.

 

Step 6 Coding The BBC micro:bit controlled crane

 

You can download from the embedded MakeCode editor above. The code can then be dropped onto you microbit in File Explorer or drag and dropped into the MakeCode editor.

 

Step 7

Insert your coded BBC microbit into the connector on the Kitronik Motor Driver board and tilt the Motor Driver Board to try it out!

BBC micro:bit controlled crane _step_6_870

Casing (Optional)

We housed our BBC microbit in a simple laser cut case (see below) but there are many suitable casing options or it could be used without one at all. You can download a zipped copy of the .dxf files here.

BBC micro:bit controlled crane powered_crane_built_870

Customise an existing enclosure

In this example we used a Hammond Blue Translucent Box 193mm x 113mm x 61mm (pictured below) as a case.

BBC micro:bit controlled crane _casing_870

Simply drill 5 holes in the box (4 in the side of the box for mounting the Motor Driver Board for the BBC microbit on to the side of the box) and one hole for inserting the wire from the crane (see below). Mark the five holes using a whiteboard pen on the outside of the box so you know where to drill (see below). Make sure the hole for the wire is on a different side of the box than to where you are mounting the Motor Driver Board for the BBC microbit.

BBC micro:bit controlled crane _marking_870

Next, push the wire through the hole you have made in the middle of the box so you can screw the wires into the Motor Driver Board for the BBC microbit.

BBC micro:bit controlled crane hammond_box_wire_870

Mount the Motor Driver Board for the BBC microbit on the side of the box using 8mm Plastic Spacers and 6mm M3 Machine Screws (see below).

BBC micro:bit controlled crane _mounting_holes_870

Connect the battery box, and plug in the BBC microbit and away you go!

BBC micro:bit controlled crane _contents_870

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2 thoughts on “BBC micro:bit Controlled Crane Step By Step”

  • This looks like such a fun project. The crane looks identical to the one in Argos marketed as "Chad Valley Crane" :)

    Awesome stuff, looking to maybe do it with small group of Year 8s using their micro bits. Hmmmm!

    Reply
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