How to use MicroBlocks on the DC-ROMA RISC-V Laptop?

December 12, 2023

What is MicroBlocks

MicroBlocks is a visual programming language that enables users to program by dragging and combining graphical code blocks. The name “MicroBlocks” itself reveals its working principle; it is composed of numerous small modules, each representing a functional unit. Through simple assembly, users can easily create complex programs, reducing the barriers to programming and allowing more people to participate in creative projects.

Features of MicroBlocks

Programmability

MicroBlocks provides a simple and user-friendly programming environment, making it easy for anyone to get started. Through dragging and connecting modules, users can create their own programs without the need to delve into complex syntax and structures.

Modular Design

MicroBlocks supports modular programming, including modules for input, output, control, mathematics, and more. This makes program development and maintenance easier. Modules can be added, removed, or replaced at any time without affecting the stability of the entire program.

Cross-Platform Compatibility

Whether you are using Windows, MacOS, or Linux, MicroBlocks runs seamlessly on all platforms.

Application scenarios of MicroBlocks

Education

In the field of education, MicroBlocks provides students with a hands-on opportunity to practice programming. Through an intuitive interface, students can quickly grasp programming concepts and ignite an interest in technology.

Creative Verification and DIY (Do It Yourself)

With its flexibility, MicroBlocks allows for quick experimentation with new ideas in projects, ranging from smart homes to robotics. MicroBlocks is well-suited for a variety of DIY projects.

Embedded Systems

MicroBlocks demonstrate powerful functionality in the development of embedded systems. By connecting modules, developers can swiftly prototype and test, speeding up the entire development cycle.

How to use MicroBlocks on the DC-ROMA RISC-V Laptop?

Method A. Connect the micro:bit mainboard

1. Open the MicroBlocks software

MicroBlocks supports Chrome and Edge browsers. Access MicroBlocks through the link below.

https://microblocks.fun/run/microblocks.html

2. Connect to computer

Connect the micro:bit to the DC-ROMA RISC-V Laptop using USB.

Check whether the current user has execution permissions for the serial port device. If not, add the execution permissions.

Serial port device address: /dev/ttyACM0

3. Install firmware

Install firmware only on first use.

From the MicroBlocks menu (gear icon⚙️), select update firmware on board.

Select your board type micro:bit from the menu.

A dialog box will appear. Read the instructions, then click OK.

In the browser’s save dialog, select the MICROBITdrive, then click the Save button.

You will see the orange light on the board flicker several times as the firmware is installed. At the same time, you will see a progress indicator on the screen.

4. Connect to MicroBlocks

Click on the USB icon, select connect and in the pop-up window, choose the serial device BBC micro:bit. Then, click on the connect button. A green circle will automatically appear, indicating that the micro:bit is now connected.

5. Start programming to control the mainboard

Drag the corresponding control blocks into the script area, and double-click on a control block to preview its effect.

Method B. Connect to ESP8266 mainboard

The ESP8266 mainboard requires an external serial board to be connected. Afterward, connect the serial board to the DC-ROMA RISC-V Laptop.

Check whether the current user has execution permissions for the serial port device. If not, add the execution permissions.

Serial port device address: /dev/ttyUSB0

When installing the firmware, select ESP8266 as the mainboard type. Apart from this, the connection method is the same as the one used for the micro:bit mainboard mentioned above.

Once the connection is successful, you can start programming!

MicroBlocks has shown significant value in education and project functionality verification. Its contribution is not only evident in the technical aspect but also in inspiring interest in technology, fostering creativity, and developing problem-solving abilities.

Designed for education and beginners, MicroBlocks, with its support for RISC-V, enables students to intuitively learn and understand the emerging RISC-V architecture. It contributes to cultivating an understanding of open standards and hardware, promoting the application of RISC-V in the education field, and building a more extensive RISC-V community. The goal of this initiative is to attract a younger audience to learn and utilize the RISC-V architecture, fostering a more open and diverse RISC-V community.

MicroBlocks Official Website: https://microblocks.fun/

DeepComputing has successfully released a range of innovative RISC-V ecosystem products. These include the world’s first RISC-V laptop, DC-ROMA, mentioned earlier, as well as the DC-ROMEO RC Car, co-branded with BravoMonster, known for its rich interactive experience and stylish design. Also, the lightweight and easy-to-control DC-RISE Indoor Airship, along with the recently unveiled DC-ROMA RISC-V Pad at the RISC-V Summit North America, featuring LTE connectivity for phone calls. We are actively developing additional RISC-V-related products, so stay tuned for updates!

For those interested, you can explore more product information through the online store below.

https://store.deepcomputing.io/

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