Getting Started

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Getting Started

Java is one of the most-used programming languages in industry today, and it is also the language of AP Computer Science and many college introductory courses. Our Java library allows students to use Java, to read the Finch sensors, and control the Finch wheels, lights, and buzzer. This section will show you how to use the Finch with Java and Mac/Windows computers.

You must connect to the Finch via Bluetooth. We support native Mac Bluetooth for Macs with Bluetooth 4.0. To use Bluetooth Windows machines, you will need a BLE bluetooth dongle.

Browser-based Java editors are not compatible with the Finch. You can use any offline Java editor with the Finch. If you don’t have a favorite, we suggest trying Eclipse.

Slide the micro:bit into the Finch tail. Make sure your micro:bit is facing the correct direction, with the A and B buttons facing up and the five holes towards the bottom. Push the micro:bit into place. The five holes will be partially covered when the micro:bit is correctly in place.

To use your Finch wirelessly, you will need to put the micro:bit into Bluetooth Mode. Connect the micro:bit to the computer with the USB cable. 

The micro:bit will appear as an external device on your computer. Download this .hex file and drag it onto the micro:bit.

DOWNLOAD HEX FILE

Once you’ve put the .hex file onto your micro:bit, your micro:bit should start to flash three letters on its display.

You can now unplug the USB cable from the micro:bit. You won’t need the cable any longer because you will be using Bluetooth to connect to the Finch Robot.

To turn on the Finch press and hold the power button on the bottom of your Finch until until one or more of the LEDs in the tail turn on. This should take about 2 seconds. Three letters should now be flashing on the micro:bit.

When you turn on your Finch the color of the tail LEDs will indicate the battery charge level.

– If all 4 tail LEDs are GREEN this means your Finch is fully charged.

– If 3 tail LEDs are GREEN this means your Finch is partially charged.

– If tail LEDs are YELLOW this means you have about 2 hours of charge left on your Finch. 

– If 1 tail LED is RED this means you should charge your Finch immediately. You may lose Bluetooth connection at this point.

If the Finch battery becomes very low while you are programming, all the tail LEDs will quickly blink RED 5 times, once per minute until you plug the Finch in for charging.

The Finch has a rechargeable battery located inside. To charge the Finch, plug the micro USB into the charging slot beneath the Finch’s tail. Plug the other end of the cord into a USB charging port.

Note: Plugging the micro USB into the micro:bit will NOT charge the Finch!

To fully charge the Finch requires 7 hours of charging time. Charging overnight is a great option!

To turn off the Finch after you are done using it, hold down the power button until the beak turns red. 

The Finch will turn itself off to save battery power if it is inactive for 10 minutes without connecting to Bluetooth, or for 20 minutes while connected to Bluetooth.

When turning off, the Finch will play a disconnecting sound and the beak LED will be red. The Finch will also show its battery status using the tail LEDs.

Connecting

This section will show you how to connect to the Finch via Bluetooth. Start by installing the BlueBird Connector.

If you are using a Windows machine, insert the BLE Bluetooth dongle into your computer. If you are using a Mac, you can skip this step.

Open the BlueBird Connector. It will begin finding the robots around you. Click on the name of your robot. Each robot is flashing its initials on the micro:bit to help you figure out which is which.

When you connect to your Finch, you will hear a series of tones, and the robot will show up in the purple “CONNECTED” section of the BlueBird Connector.

Now you are ready to start programming in Java! You can minimize the BlueBird Connector, but you should leave it open the entire time that you are using the Finch. If at any point you have trouble with your robot, you should come back to the BlueBird Connector, check your Bluetooth connection, and reconnect if necessary. You can also check your battery level in the BlueBird Connector.

Programming

You can use any offline Java IDE with the Finch. The screenshots here will show Eclipse as an example. Browser-based Java editors are not compatible with the Finch.

Download and unzip the Java library.

Create a new Java Project in Eclipse.

Name the project finch.

Eclipse will ask you if you want to create module-info.java. Click Don’t Create.

Next, right-click on the new project and select Import.

Select File System under General. Then click Next.

Click Browse and navigate to the BirdBrainJava folder. Make sure to click the checkbox next to the folder name to select all of the files. Then click Finish. If Eclipse asks you to overwrite files, answer Yes.

Eclipse will copy six files into your project: the classes for the Finch, Hummingbird and micro:bit (Robot.java, Finch.java, Hummingbird.java, and Microbit.java) and two test files (FinchTest.java and HummingbirdTest.java). Select these files in Eclipse and drag them into the src folder.

Once the files are in the src folder, open FinchTest.java. To test that everything is working properly, run the test program. The Finch’s beak should blink 10 times.

Now you are ready to start writing your own Java programs with the Finch! These lessons will help you to get started, and this reference summarizes the functions that are available in the Finch library.

Make sure to store your programs in the finch project so that they can find the Finch class. If you wish to create a new project, be sure to add the six files in the BirdBrainJava folder to the new project.

Greenfoot

Greenfoot is a version of Java that includes visual tools. Its goal is to make it easy for beginners to incorporate graphics into their programs.

This module contains information about using Greenfoot with Finch 2. If you are using any other development environment for Java, please use the the Programming section instead.

This project demonstrates one way to use the Finch with Greenfoot. It contains sliders to control the Finch lights and visual displays of Finch sensors. You can move and turn the Finch using the arrow keys on the keyboard.

Use this blank project to create your own Greenfoot project with the Finch.

You can use all of the Finch methods described in the lessons and the library document. Use getFinch() to get the Finch object, and then use any Finch method. For example, use getFinch().getDistance() to find the distance from the Finch distance sensor to the closest object.