Breakout Boards-what are they and how are they used?

Elecfreaks Breakout board

In the upcoming “Computer Science for Leaving Certificate” textbook by Brett A. Becker and Keith Quille (published by Goldenkey Publishing), Chapter 2 is a comprehensive dive into the wonderful world of programming with the BBC Microbit .

The Elecfreaks Breakout board is mentioned as a useful component to have at hand so today we thought we would take a look at what a breakout board is and how it can be used.

Anyone that has any experience of using the BBC micro:bit knows how much is packed into that small 43 mm × 52 mm frame. There’s USB and buttons, LED’s and an accelerometer, compass, radio and bluetooth. All in all it’s very feature rich. To access most of these features there’s a strip of pins at the bottom. And therein lies the problem-when you start accessing those pins using crocodile clips and wires, it all can get a little crowded down there.micro:bit close-up

Making it easier

To make it easier to work with the Micro:bit, there are a couple of products that make the pins more easily accessible. The first is to use an edge connector breakout board which can make the pins available as row of pin headers and this provides an easy way of connecting circuits using jumper wires. microbit edge connector

Additional features

The other way of doing it is to use a breakout board such as the Elecfreaks Breakout board pictured above.This board offers several advantages over the edge connector board as it allows you to switch the voltage of some I/O serial ports to be 5V rather than the standard 3.3V that the micro:bit uses.This is really handy, as with this function, we can extend the usage of 5V electronic modules and, by sliding a switch only, we can make it compatible with 5V serial port communication devices.

Elecfreaks Breakout board allowing easy connection

You can order the Edge Connector Breakout Board and the Elecfreaks Breakout Board will be available shortly.