Sino:Bit A Single-Board Microcontroller
ino:bit is a single-board microcontroller for computer education in China. It’s the first Chinese OSHWA Certified project, based on the Calliope mini with permission of the Calliope mini project.
While several modifications are planned, the first was to upgrade the LED matrix from 5x5 to 12x12. This allows for support of Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Arabic and other non-Latin character based languages. Without this, the vast majority of the World's children cannot experience the thrill of that first "Hello World" in their own language.
The sino:bit was created by Naomi Wu, an Open Source Hardware evangelist and DIY enthusiast. It was executed and engineered by Elecrow Technology, a Shenzhen based electronics company that offers contract manufacturing and engineering services to Maker and Hardware Enthusiasts.
The sino:bit LED matrix is driven by a dedicated LED matrix driver chip instead of by the board's CPU with the micro:bit. This has an advantage of freeing the processor from complex display update logic and enables a larger grid of LEDs. However one important difference between the boards is that the micro:bit supports 10 levels of brightness for each individual pixel, whereas the sino:bit only supports a global brightness of 16 levels that applies to all pixels at once.
The sino:bit buttons are reversed relative to the micro:bit. If you hold the boards in the same orientation the A and B buttons are swapped in position.
The sino:bit exposes access to its serial UART and I2C bus through grove style connectors, making it easy to interface with many third-party sensors. In addition the sino:bit exposes all of the processor's GPIO pins through a 13x2 pin header near the bottom of the board. This header is exactly the same type as used on a Raspberry Pi so many Pi accessories can potentially be interfaced with the board, however note the pin functionality and pinout is not the same as the Raspberry Pi!
In addition to the interfaces mentioned above the sino:bit includes a few more large GPIO ports on the corners of the board. The micro:bit exposes pins 0, 1, 2 whereas the sino:bit exposes pins 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Note that the holes on the sino:bit are slightly larger than on the micro:bit and won't grip a banana plug as well as on the micro:bit.
All other functions of the sino:bit, like its accelerometer and magnetometer, are exactly the same as the micro:bit!
With the micro:bit there are primarily three ways to program or run code on it:
- Using the Arduino IDE and the Arduino language.
- Using MicroPython and the Python programming langauge.