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Sound compass

Intermediate | MakeCode, Python | Buttons, Compass, LED display, Sound | Relational operators, Selection, Using a compass, Variables

Step 1: Make it

What is it?

Make a compass that makes a sound when you're pointing North to make it more accessible and useful.


Coding guide

What you'll learn

  • How to use compass readings from the micro:bit's magnetometer sensor
  • How to use variables, selection, comparisons and logic to trigger events when sensor readings fall in a range of numbers

How it works

  • A loop keeps the micro:bit checking which direction you're facing in. It stores this in a variable called direction.
  • If the direction is between 355 and 5 degrees, you are facing North so it shows an N on the LED display and makes a beeping sound.
  • If you have a new micro:bit you can hear the sound on the built-in speaker, otherwise you can connect headphones to pin 0 and GND.
  • If you're not facing North it clears the display and stops the sound.
  • You can also press button A to see a compass reading on the LED display if you're not facing North.
  • The first time you use a compass project on your micro:bit, you’ll probably be asked to play a little game. Tilt the screen to light every LED on the display. This calibrates the compass and makes sure it’s working correctly.
micro:bit and compass rose

What you need

  • A micro:bit
  • MakeCode or Python editor
  • battery pack (optional)

Step 2: Code it

1from microbit import *
2import music
4while True:
5    direction = compass.heading()
6    if direction < 5 or direction > 355:
9    elif button_a.is_pressed():
10        display.scroll(direction)
11    else:
12        display.clear()
13        music.stop()

Step 3: Improve it

  • Play different notes depending on which way you're facing: South, East or West.
  • Add another button press to calibrate the compass again if you think it's not accurate. In MakeCode you'll find the 'calibrate compass' block under Input... more. In Python use compass.calibrate()