Which Leads and Prototyping Boards Do you Need for Your BBC micro:bit?

adafruit BBC micro:bit jumper leads kitronik micro:bit accessories proto-pic prototyping

Started with the BBC micro:bit and ready to connect to other devices and components? Depending on what kind of project you're working on, there's different ways to connect your micro:bit.

Alligator clip leads

Also known as crocodile leads, these leads come in packs of 12 and can connect to each of the five contact pads at the base of the micro:bit, as well as from other components such as speakers, lights, and servos. The contact pads are pin 1, pin 2, pin 3, 3.3volts, and Ground.  In addition to the five contact pads, the BBC micro:bit has 22 other pins. Some of the pins have more than one purpose - a diagram of all the pins and contact pads, is documented here.

Banana Plugs to Alligator Clips


Sometimes alligator clips can when moving the BBC micro:bit, and it's easy to accidently short onto other pins. To prevent slippage, banana plugs can be used to fit directly into the holes in the contact pads. These are excellent for younger kids, and younger primary school classes as it's harder to short the banana plugs while they are plugged in. The other end of these leads still have alligator clips, to connect to components with larger tabs, such as multi-coloured and single colour light emitting diodes (LEDs). Although these plugs create a more robust connection, they still won't give you access to the complete range of pins on the BBC micro:bit - and due to the size of the additional pins, the alligator clips are just too large to be able to connect easily.

 Break Out All the BBC micro:bit Pins!

Eventually (or maybe even right away, if you're keen) you'll want to get to all those 22 pins on your micro:bit. A straightforward way is to just use an edge connector, such as the Kitronik Edge Connector.

 The Edge Connector breakout board is great for connecting all sorts of fun devices and components to your BBC micro:bit. You can add more pins to the Edge Connector, eg if you want to connect a device that communicates with I2C or SPI, such as OLED screens, a logging device to record data, or a light sensor.

Breadboards and Jumper Leads

To makes things easier, you'll probably want to connect to a breadboard first, where you can plug in your secondary device, or connect other leads to components that support alligator clips, such as many e-textiles components designed to be sewn into clothing.

For solderless connections from the Edge Connector to the breadboard, you can grab a bundle of multi-coloured Jumper Jerky, or smaller Jumper Jerky Junior, leads, and for connecting to those e-textile components with the larger hole contacts (above), have a look at the alligator (or crocodile down here in Aus ;)) to jumper leads that are a hybrid of both.


More Prototyping Boards


The Kitronik Prototyping System  (above) combines the Edge Connector and breadboard onto a single base, so that you can keep your design together and even power it independently for travelling.

So what happens when you create that project you'd really love to show your friends, or students (if you're a teacher) but need your breadboard for the next project? Enter the Proto-pic Exhi:bit prototyping system (below) that allows you to transfer your project onto a permanently-soldered daughter board that can be quickly swapped over with other projects. the idea is that you start building your project on the breadboard, which can then be transferred to a soldered board, and easily labelled with a pen at the bottom. It's great for those, "and here's something I've prepared earlier" moments - especially when teaching kids. Those of you with more years under your belts, may remember this happening on the Curiosity Show ;)

You can browse more information on BBC micro:bit accessories here.

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