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Learn coding while gaming with Kitronik ARCADE

08 November 2019

Kitronik has launched its latest product designed to help with the development of coding skills – The Kitronik ARCADE.

The Kitronik ARCADE is a fully featured programmable gamepad, created especially for use with the MakeCode Arcade Block Editor. Designed to be suitable for everyone, from beginners to experienced game enthusiasts and especially younger people who are taking their first steps into coding, ARCADE invites users to enhance their skills by creating their own games or modifying existing games found via the MakeCode website. 

This latest MakeCode Editor allows retro arcade games to run in the browser or on handheld consoles. It consists of drag and drop blocks that snap together to form programs. There is also the ability to write code for ARCADE in JavaScript and a Python editor that will be added in the near future.

Education providers

Kitronik is building on its expertise in developing products for the education sector with the launch of The Kitronik ARCADE. Creating games is a hugely engaging way for children to be introduced to the world of coding and follows on from the success of the GAME ZIP 64 launched by the company in 2018. 

A wealth of supportive resources is available on the MakeCode Arcade website to facilitate the use of the product in classrooms. There are guided tutorials that walk users through creating simple games to more complex ones written by community members keen to pass on their knowledge. There are also lesson plans and printable coding cards for the classroom along with video tutorials. 

The Kitronik ARCADE has been specifically developed to offer the perfect platform for running these games. The handheld device is packed full of features and has been ergonomically designed for comfort and ease of use. It features everything a person would need for the perfect gaming experience including: 

• A full colour LCD wide viewing angle screen

• A clear case – all electronics are on show but protected from everyday knocks 

• A piezo sounder for audio feedback

• 6 gamer input buttons

• A menu button 

• A reset button and an on/off switch 

• Vibration motor for Haptic feedback 

Software volume control

• A USB programming port and two expansion ports for expert level users 

The ARCADE can be powered by either 3 AAA batteries or via the micro USB connector, with the battery holders located on the rear of the PCB. The three battery holders can also act as hand grips for maximum comfort and control when playing. 

Not just for those developing their coding skills, the Kitronik ARCADE also caters for advanced users and offers two expansion ports and a debugging port. The expansion ports give users direct access to the microprocessor pins and the debug port allows the bootloader code to be customised. 

Commenting on the launch of The Kitronik ARCADE, Director Dave Sanderson said: “The MakerCode Arcade allows the teaching of computational thinking via the medium of games and this engages learners by providing a rewarding goal, the chance to play the game they have designed!”

“This is a very engaging way of introducing young people to coding and we have therefore created a device that would facilitate this and be accessible for a range of users. It features the same editor as the successful BBC micro:bit and there is already a wealth of games and tutorials for education providers and home users to get involved with and have fun with their own retro games.” 

Full details on the Kitronik ARCADE are available via the Kitronik website

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