Set up Arduino IDE for micro:bit

Learn how to install and set up the Arduino IDE for use with micro:bit

Written By: Cherie Tan

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Very Easy
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Did you know that you can program the micro:bit with the Arduino IDE? Yes, you can. 

In this guide, we will show you how to install the Arduino IDE and set it up for use with the micro:bit. 

After completing this guide, you will be able to utilise many useful libraries that can only be used in the Arduino IDE, for the micro:bit and various sensors or actuators!

Step 1   Install the Arduino IDE

  • If you haven't already got it installed, let's get you started. Head over to the Arduino IDE website
  • Click on the download link for your operating system of choice. In this guide, we are using a Mac OS X.
  • Wait for it to finish downloading, then double-click to open the downloaded zip folder. 
  • Double-click on the 'Arduino.exe' file to start the IDE!

Step 2   Install SoftDevice hex file

  • You will need a SoftDevice radio on the micro:bit. If you have used MicroPython with the micro:bit, that SoftDevice would have been erased. Thankfully, it's rather easy to get that back on the micro:bit! Just download this hex file and drag and drop it onto your MICROBIT drive.

Step 3   Add NRF5x Board Support

  • Alright, we're almost set up to program the micro:bit using the Arduino IDE. For Arduino IDE to detect the micro:bit you will need to have added NRF5x board support. In the Arduino IDE, click on 'Preferences' 
  • In the 'Additional Boards Manager URL' field, add ''
  • Click the 'OK' button to save
  • Click on Tools > Board > Boards Manager. 
  • In the search bar, search for 'nRF5'
  • Click on the install button next to "Nordic Semiconductor nRF5 Boards'

Step 4   Select board, softdevice and port

  • In Tools > Boards, select BBC micro:bit
  • Again in Tools > Softdevices, select S110
  • Finally, in Tools > Port, select the micro:bit 
    Now you can go on to program the micro:bit with the Arduino IDE.
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