AdaCore Blog

Ada for micro:bit Part 1: Getting Started

by Fabien Chouteau

Welcome to the Ada for micro:bit series where we look at simple examples to learn how to program the BBC micro:bit with Ada.

In this first part we will see how to setup an Ada development environment for the micro:bit.

The micro:bit

The Micro:Bit is a very small ARM Cortex-M0 board designed by the BBC for computer education. It's fitted with a Nordic nRF51 Bluetooth enabled microcontroller and an embedded programmer. You can get it at:

The projects in this series will also require basic electronic components (LEDs, resistors, potentiometer, buzzer). If you don't have those items, we recommend one of the micro:bit starter kits like the Kitronik Inventor's Kit:

Installation

To start programing in Ada, you first have to download and install GNAT Community from adacore.com/download.

You will need both the x86_64 and arm-elf packages.

Once you have installed the two packages, you can download the sources of the Ada_Drivers_Library project: here. Unzip the archive in your document folder for instance.

Linux only

On Linux, you might need privileges to access the USB programmer of the micro:bit, without which the flash program will say "No connected boards".

To do this on Ubuntu, you can create (as administrator) the file /etc/udev/rules.d/mbed.rules and add the line:

SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="0d28", ATTR{idProduct}=="0204", MODE="0666"

then restarting the service by doing

$ sudo udevadm trigger

First program

Start the GNATstudio development environment that you installed earlier, click on "Open Project" and select the file "Ada_Drivers_Library-master\examples\MicroBit\text_scrolling/text_scrolling.gpr" from the archive that you extracted earlier.

Click on the "Build all" icon in the toolbar to compiler the project.

Plug your micro:bit using a USB micro cable.

And finally click on the "Flash to board" icon in the toolbar to run the program on the micro:bit.

You should see a text scrolling on the LEDs of the micro:bit:

That's it for the setup of your Ada development environment for the micro:bit. See you next week for another Ada project on the micro:bit.

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About Fabien Chouteau

Fabien joined AdaCore in 2010 after his engineering degree at the EPITA (Paris). He is involved in real-time, embedded and hardware simulation technology. Maker/DIYer in his spare time, his projects include electronics, music and woodworking.