Premier Farnell has officially launched CodeBug, a low-cost developer board that is designed to be easy to use and help beginners learn programming and electronics.
First unveiled as a Kickstarter project earlier this year, CodeBug is a relatively simple device costing just £12.50 that can be programmed by connecting it to a desktop computer and dragging and dropping blocks in a browser-based environment.
The device is based on an unspecified 8-bit microcontroller chip from Microchip Technology, with a grid of 25 LEDs forming a display of sorts, push buttons and six 'crocodile clip' rings for connecting inputs and outputs. An expansion port provides a set of standard I2C, SPI and UART (serial) interfaces.
This makes for much less capable hardware when compared with something like the Raspberry Pi single-board computer, and Premier Farnell and the CodeBug creators refer to it as "a new class of microprocessor board that anyone can get results from within minutes using just a web browser".
In fact, the device is programmed via the CodeBug website using drag and drop 'Blockly' blocks, eliminating the need for any complicated setup or driver software to be installed. Users create their code on the website, download it when complete, and transfer it to the CodeBug device via a USB connection.
However, CodeBug also supports Python and other languages for more experienced users, while the website provides interactive tutorials and resources to help people learn and improve their programming.
"Through its simplistic yet inspired design, CodeBug is opening up electronics to a whole new generation of beginners and young engineers," said David Shen, group chief technology officer at Premier Farnell.
Meanwhile, CodeBug inventor Dr Andrew Robinson said that he is keen to see the device make a worldwide impact, and that CodeBug is about bringing technological creativity to everyone, even absolute beginners.
CodeBug is currently available exclusively via Premier Farnell's element14 website, which describes it as "more than just a fun gadget, it can be used to teach the fundamentals of programming, physical computing and electronics".
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