We initially designed the Finch to work in courses in which Java was the predominant programming language. Java is one of the most-used programming languages in industry today, and is also the language of AP Computer Science A and many college introductory courses. Our Java API allows students to use Java to make the Finch move, set the beak color, play music with the buzzer, and read the Finch sensors.

Download & Install

Click on the link of the IDE you would like to use to download the appropriate Finch library.

Generic/Command Line


JCreator (Windows Only)




Important Notes: Generic should work with any IDE, but you will need to create a project in that IDE and properly link the finch.jar file. If you choose to use Linux, we recommend using Ubuntu with our robots. You are welcome to use another version of Linux, but we are only able to provide technical support for Ubuntu.

Video Tutorial

Watch a 7 minute screencast on how to run example programs and write your own Finch programs below. We recommend selecting high definition and full-screen viewing.


Javadocs are available online and are also included with every download of the Finch Java software package.  The docs cover the methods used to control the Finch and read Finch sensor data.

We also provide tutorials of how to compile, create, and run programs for the Finch in several different IDEs:

IDE & OS Support

The Finch works in any Java IDE and on Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10), Mac OS 10.5 and above, and most versions of Linux.

Example files

The software package includes a number of example files demonstrating how the Finch can be used to demonstrate CS concepts like looping, variables, etc.  The examples range from very simple to quite complex, and many were written by students.  We suggest that you run several of these examples to get an idea for the types of programs that can be written using a Finch.

Structure of the Software Package

The software package folder has three top-level folders:

SourceFiles – Location of the finch.jar library, examples (in the “Code” subfolder), and libraries for webcam support

Javadocs – Location of the documentation

Licenses – Licensing information for the download and for third-party libraries

In the case of IDE-specific downloads, additional folders may exist containing data for the IDE project files.

Known Issues and Troubleshooting

The Finch is not compatible with Java 7 or earlier versions of Java.

Issue: You run a correctly compiled program and it hangs after “Connecting to Finch”.  The LED stays in color fading mode.

Possible Causes:

  • The Finch is already connected to another program. For example, if the Finch is connected to the Birdbrain Robot Server, Java will not be able to connect to it.
  • The computer went to sleep when the Finch was plugged in and did not properly register Finch upon wakeup. Unplugging the Finch and plugging it back in will solve the issue.

Issue: Text to speech or playing tones doesn’t work.

Possible Cause: The Finch class uses the computer speakers to play synthesized speech, wav files, and tones.  Make sure your computer speakers are turned on.

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