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Activity

Heartbeat beacon

Intermediate | MakeCode, Python | LED display, Radio | Communication, Iteration, Radio waves

Step 1: Make it

What is it?

With two micro:bits you can keep track of a precious belonging or pet using radio messages.

One micro:bit sending a heart image to another by radio

How it works

  • This uses two programs, a transmitter (beacon) program and a receiver.
  • Flash the transmitter program onto the first micro:bit, connect it to a battery pack and put it in or on your precious thing.
  • Using an infinite loop, it broadcasts a low power ‘hello’ radio message on group 73 every 2 seconds. (You can use any radio group number you like between 0 and 255, just make sure that the receiver program uses the same number. Groups are like channels on TV or a walkie-talkie.)
  • The receiver program will show you a heart on the LED display output for 1 second every time it receives a message on the same channel. Because we’re using a low-power transmitter you have to be quite close to the transmitter to see it, so you’ll know your precious thing is nearby.

What you need

  • 2 micro:bits
  • MakeCode or Python editor
  • At least 1 battery pack
  • something precious to keep track of

Step 2: Code it

Transmitter

Receiver

Step 3: Improve it

  • Increase the range by increasing the power of the radio transmitter. The power can be any number from 0 to 7.
  • Make a heart ‘beat’ on the transmitter’s LED display as well on the receiver.
  • You could use these programs as a simple treasure hunt game – hide the transmitters and challenge a friend to find them.