micro:bit BLE from the Raspberry Pi

microbit logo

Bluetooth logo

Raspberry Pi logo


This is an introduction on how you can exchange information between a micro:bit and a Raspberry Pi using Bluetooth Low Engergy (BLE).


Setting Up the micro:bit

We will use https://makecode.microbit.org to create our own hex file with the required Bluetooth services for this workshop.

Makecode to activity Bluetooth

If there are not the Bluetooth commands on the left hand side then click on the cog and choose Extentions. From the list of Extensions, choose Bluetooth and accept that radio will be replaced with Bluetooth.

Before saving the program to the micro:bit, click on the cog and select Project Settings. Choose the JustWorks pairing mode.

Makecode Bluetooth pairing modes

The micro:bit with this hex file will need to paired with the Raspberry Pi, more on that later. For now we are done with the micro:bit and can switch to setting up the Raspberry Pi.

Setting up the Raspberry Pi

You will need to install the Bluezero package from Python Package Index (PyPI). These instructions are targeted at a Raspberry Pi running an up-to-date Raspberry Pi OS release:
sudo pip3 install bluezero

Pairing with the micro:bit

If this is the first time this combination of Raspberry Pi and micro:bit have been used together then you will need to ensure the micro:bit is in the list of known Bluetooth devices that are paired with the Raspberry Pi. The pairing will be done using bluetoothctl.

Note: There is ‘tab’ command completion on commands and addresses available within the bluetoothctl tool.
Note: As Bluetooth addresses are unique, this workshop will representation the Raspberry Pi and micro:bit addresses as xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx and yy:yy:yy:yy:yy:yy respectively. Please replace these with the actual address of your devices

Using bluetoothctl

The command line tool “bluetoothctl” to discover the micro:bit.
On the terminal command line type:
$ bluetoothctl

The new prompt will be:

Type help to get a full list of the commands.
Check that the Bluetooth is switched on on the Raspberry Pi
Type show and check that you have Powered: yes.
For example:

Controller xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx
	Name: raspberrypi
	Alias: raspberrypi
	Class: 0x000000
	Powered: yes
	Discoverable: no
        Pairable: yes
	UUID: Generic Attribute Profile (00001801-0000-1000-8000-00805f9b34fb)
	UUID: A/V Remote Control        (0000110e-0000-1000-8000-00805f9b34fb)
	UUID: PnP Information           (00001200-0000-1000-8000-00805f9b34fb)
	UUID: Generic Access Profile    (00001800-0000-1000-8000-00805f9b34fb)
	UUID: A/V Remote Control Target (0000110c-0000-1000-8000-00805f9b34fb)
	Modalias: usb:v1D6Bp0246d052E
	Discovering: no

If "Powered" is not set to "yes" then type power on

Make a note of the controller address as you will need it later

Scan for micro:bit

You will need to get bluetoothctl to search for micro:bits that are nearby.
When you see your micro:bit you can stop the search.

[bluetooth]# scan on
Discovery started
[CHG] Controller xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx Discovering: yes
[NEW] Device yy:yy:yy:yy:yy:yy BBC micro:bit [?????]
[bluetooth]# scan off

Pair with micro:bit

Using the Bluetooth address of the micro:bit (found with the above command) to connect to it.
Because pairing is required with this hex file the micro:bit needs to be put into pairing mode. To do this, hold button A & B and then press and release the reset button on the back of the micro:bit. Once the Bluetooth logo is displayed on the micro:bit you can release all the buttons.

[bluetooth]# pair yy:yy:yy:yy:yy:yy
Attempting to pair with yy:yy:yy:yy:yy:yy
[CHG] Device yy:yy:yy:yy:yy:yy Connected: yes
[CHG] Device yy:yy:yy:yy:yy:yy Connected: no
[CHG] Device yy:yy:yy:yy:yy:yy Paired: yes
Pairing successful

If you want to check the micro:bit has been added to the devices list then type devices

You have finished with bluetoothctl so type exit

Using Python with Bluezero Library

Sending a message to the micro:bit

This first Python exercise is to send text to display on the micro:bit.

from bluezero import microbit
ubit = microbit.Microbit(adapter_addr='xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx',
my_text = 'Hello, world'

while my_text is not '':
    ubit.text = my_text
    my_text = input('Enter message: ')


Reading a button press

Display an image of which button needs pressing to break out of the loop

import time
from bluezero import microbit
ubit = microbit.Microbit(adapter_addr='xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx',
while ubit.button_a < 1:
    ubit.pixels = [0b00000, 0b01000, 0b11111, 0b01000, 0b00000]

while ubit.button_b < 1:
    ubit.pixels = [0b00000, 0b00010, 0b11111, 0b00010, 0b00000]



Reading values from the micro:bit

This last exercise uses information from the micro:bit sensors to be displayed ont he Raspberry Pi.

import time
from bluezero import microbit

ubit = microbit.Microbit(adapter_addr='xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx',
looping = True
print('Connected... Press a button to select mode')
mode = 0
while looping:
    if ubit.button_a > 0 and ubit.button_b > 0:
        mode = 3
        ubit.pixels = [0b10001, 0b01010, 0b00100, 0b01010, 0b10001]
    elif ubit.button_b > 0:
        mode = 2
        ubit.pixels = [0b11111, 0b00100, 0b00100, 0b00100, 0b00100]

    elif ubit.button_a > 0:
        mode = 1
        ubit.pixels = [0b11110, 0b10000, 0b11100, 0b10000, 0b10000]

    if mode == 1:
        x, y, z = ubit.accelerometer
        if z < 0:
            print('Face up')
            print('Face down')
    elif mode == 2:
        print('Temperature:', ubit.temperature)
    elif mode == 3:
        looping = False