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Transferring a Program to the BBC micro:bit

microbit Getting started with the BBC micro:bit

This Kitronik University Resource is a part of the BBC microbit partnership and is a guide to getting a program onto the BBC microbit.



Transferring a Program to the BBC microbit:

After you've created your first program you'll need to compile it and transfer it to the BBC microbit. This process is very simple, and if you follow our guide you'll be up and running in no time.

Learn how to:

  • Compile a program and transfer it the BBC microbit.

Compiling the program.

It is very easy to transfer a finished program to the BBC microbit. Firstly you have to compile it. This is a function that converts your script into a format that the BBC microbit can understand. This is known as a '.hex' file. The compile button is in a slightly different place depending upon which code editor you are using. If you are using Block Editor or Touch Develop it is in the top left corner. If you are using JavaScript it is in the bottom left corner.


Press the 'compile' button. If your script has compiled successfully, it will return the message 'Your .hex file is ready. Drag and drop it onto your BBC microbit device here'.

microbit bbc_micro_bit_hex_file_ready_870

The download process will depend on the internet browser you are using:

  • If you are using Internet Explorer: the message 'Do you want to open or save microbit-script.hex from' will appear. Click 'Save As' to save it into your 'Downloads' folder.
  • If you are using Google Chrome: the .hex file will appear at the bottom of the browser screen.
  • If you are using Mozilla Firefox: the message 'You have chosen to open: microbit-script.hex. What should Firefox do with this file?' will appear. Make sure 'Save File' is selected and click 'OK' to save the file into your 'Downloads' folder,

Next, plug a BBC microbit into the computer via the USB cable. The BBC microbit will appear as a removable drive on the computer something like this:


To download the .hex file to the BBC microbit. 'Drag' the .hex file from the folder where it was saved and 'Drop' it onto the 'MICROBIT' removable drive. A message will appear saying 'Copying 1 item to MICROBIT'. At the same time, the yellow LED on the back of the BBC microbit will flash. After a few seconds, the download will complete and the BBC microbit should now be running the program. If the LED doesn't flash during this process; you may need to press the 'reset' button which is located next to the Status LED on the back of the BBC microbit.


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