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Create a Tile


To gain an insight into the how the technology behind the tiles work, please read the section on Hardware and Software and then how to use the ScratchX extension to control the tile. Its really useful to have an example tile to play with, so before starting a large project, first build a tile to have an understanding of the possibilities and first hand experience of what is involved.

Note:- the wiring on tiles to the microcontroller can be done in a variety of different ways. Our examples below use pre-wired LEDs with resistors already included, and terminal connector blocks.

Tile Base

Find a suitable box to act as the base of a tile. My examples use folding cardboard mailing boxes, suitable for a book. They are cheap to purchase and have sufficient depth to store the electronics, alternatives would be cardboard shoeboxes, or other box containers. Think about what is best for the application you are creating.

Design Tile

moonDesign a simple scene, and then plan how to illustrate it with coloured LEDs. Keep it simple, don’t use too many LEDs; less than 6 to begin with. Every LED introduces 2 wires that need to be connected, and the wiring can quickly get complicated. Think about how to group LEDs together. All LEDs connected to the same pin will have the same behaviour. LEDs that operate together (connected to a single pin) should all be wired in parallel. This means they will all be equally bright when switched on.

Decorate Tile

Decorate the tile lid based on your earlier design. Felt works well, as does coloured paper and pens to create the design. If you use any wet materials, its essential that you allow sufficient time for them to completely dry, also avoid using conductive materials like tin foil. Should any bare wires accidentally touch there is the possibility of creating short circuits and creating a fire hazard.

Build and test LED circuit

LED Wiring HarnessDraw a diagram of the wiring in your circuits. The LEDs in my examples are already pre-wired with a resistor to protect the LED, and with a red (positive) and black (ground) connecting wires. A cheaper alternative would be to purchase LEDs and resistors - but the resulting circuit needs to be suitably insulated to avoid short circuits and being a fire hazard.

For short workshops we create a simple pre-wired harness, with 2 LEDs connected and pins ready to connect to the NodeMCU. The photograph shows 2 LEDs, each with its own circuit, connected using Terminal Connector Blocks. The red wire from each LED will be connected to a pin on the NodeMCU, the black (ground) wires can all be connected together to provide a single connection to ground on the NodeMCU.

Wiring up the Microbit

Connect the ground wire (black) to GND pin on the Microbit. Connect other wires to 0, 1 or 2 pins on the Microbit. In microBlocks you can control the pins using the 'pins' menu. LEDs can be switched on or off using the 'set digital pin' block or set to a specific brightness using the block 'set pin' block and using a value beween 1 and 1023.

Wiring up the NodeMCU

Connect LEDs to suitable digital pins on the NodeMCU (shown in red) and connect the ground wires to one of the ground pins on the board. Note: not all digital pins are available for use. Please consult the microBlocks website for information if you wish to use the NodeMCU.

Next step

When your processor is wired up - then see the see the section Program a tile about how to control LEDs using your board.