3. Micro:bit Custom Images

Quick Overview of Day

Learn how to create your own custom Micro:bit images. Continue working on creating a Micro:bit game, making sure to create at least one fruitful and one non-fruitful function.

3.1. Creating Custom Images on the Micro:bit

We have seen that we can display many built-in images on the Micro:bit. You can display any of the built in images (see the List of Pre-Defined Images) by doing something like:

import microbit

What if you want to create your own images? The way an image is created on the Micro:bit is by making a string that represents each LED/pixel on the Micro:bit. For each LED, you need to set the value to be a number from 0 to 9, which is the brightness of that LED. Setting the brightness to 0 means that LED should be off, while setting the brightness to 9 means turning it on as bright as possible. Any number in between will set the LED to be turned on somewhat bright, where 1 is the least bright, and 8 is almost the brightest.

The following code creates an image of the side of a die, and displays it on the Micro:bit:

import microbit

dice = microbit.Image("33333:39093:30003:39093:33333")


Although we can figure out what is going on in the above code (each row is separated by a :), it would be nice to improve the readability of creating our own images. One way we can do this is to use concatenation to join a number of strings together. Consider the following:

Recall that the + operator means concatenation (think join) when used on strings. Python gives us a second way to concatenate two strings together, as follows:

The purpose of using this second style of concatenation is simply to increase the readability of your code. It would be a poor decision to use this style in the example above, but it is a great choice when we think back to how we might come up with a customized image for the Micro:bit to display. Consider the following, which accomplishes the same task of making and displaying a boat image:

import microbit

# using the \ character at the end of a string tells Python to
# keep looking for more of the string on the next line, and
# concatenates the strings automatically for you

dice4 = "33333:" \
        "39093:" \
        "30003:" \
        "39093:" \

the_roll = microbit.Image(dice4)


If you would rather not teach/use another method of concatenation, you could also accomplish the same thing by creating a fruitful function that combines multiple strings together for you, as follows:

import microbit

def create_microbit_image(row1, row2, row3, row4, row5):
    """Takes in 5 strings, each containing 5 integers.
    Returns an image that works on the micro:bit"""
    combined_string = f"{row1}:{row2}:{row3}:{row4}:{row5}"
    custom_image = microbit.Image(combined_string)
    return custom_image

line1 = "33333"
line2 = "39093"
line3 = "30003"
line4 = "39093"
line5 = "33333"

the_roll = create_microbit_image(line1, line2, line3, line4, line5)

The create_microbit_image() fruitful function defined above allows us to pass in 5 strings, each containing 5 integers representing the brightness of an LED. Organizing our code in this way allows us to visualize what the image will look like, simply by looking at the code.

3.2. Work Time on Assignment

Continue working on your current assignment (focused on creating fruitful and non-fruitful functions).

Next Section - 4. Animating a Micro:bit LED Image with a for Loop