Seeeduino Grove Beginner Kit for Arduino

When I started to learn about Arduino everything was more complicated than now, on internet there was less information, less videos or tutorials, less kind of modules to buy on eBay, DealeXtreme, AliExpress or other webs.

It wasn’t a big problem for me because I have done these kinds of things for long time and I could find the answer I needed.

However, not everybody has the same knowledge or patience. Or not everybody wants or is able to spend a lot of time. Then, it’s good that now there are more companies and platforms to choose the best solution for each one.

Today, I’m going to talk about the Grove platform of SeeedStudio.

I knew SeeedStudio before because I used this company to make boards long time ago, if I remember well, I sent my 3rd board, which I designed, to them. Anyway, they don’t only manufacture boards, they sell their own boards as well.

In my second or third month in NZ I read from someone who published on twitter about the Seeeduino XIAO, this is a minuscule board with include a powerful microcontroller and USB-C as interface. I really wanted to have one, so, when this company contacted me to make a review for another board, I couldn’t say no, I accepted and I ordered as well the tiny board that I’m going to review in another article.

 

What is Grove platform of SeeedStudio?

Grove is a platform that allow beginners start with electronics boards, microcontrollers, modules, sensors, etc. without using any tool such as protoboards, cables, solder iron, etc. It’s possible thanks to these boards and modules have a connector to join with only one cable. Then, the beginner can focus only on programming code and less in electronic. It can be good for people who are studying at college about programming.

 

Seeeduino Grove Beginner Kit for Arduino

SeeedStudio has two versions of this board. The first one has everything separate and accompanied with a plastic box to save them. However, it’s the second version the best one in my opinion, because this version all is united at the same board and pre-wired, the meaning is that we can program and start to use it without using any cable. Of course, we are free to cut the union between boards and use these with cables.

This second version contains the main board and 10 modules as well. We’re going to see everything right now:

Box

I really thought the box would be bigger, but not, it’s small because in this board everything is small! The carton box show us the main characteristics like that the board is compatible with Arduino, it include 10 modules pre-wired, and 12 tutorials to use it (a PDF file with 71 pages to understand everything) that you can download from their website (here, or here to go to the wiki), you can download as well the Eagle files that contain the schematic and circuit and modify or copy it if you want.

 

Main board

The main board which will work like an Arduino has the same microcontroller than an Arduino Uno, but here, they have used an ATmega 328P with encapsulated MLF which is really small. The chip that allow to program this board by USB is the CP2102, it’s one of the most famous chips to convert the USB signal to Serial signal, so we shouldn’t have problems to connect it with our computer, and it’s possible that the computer installs the board automatically without us having to do anything. (You won’t have to do anything if you use Windows 10, your computer will install it automatically, I tried it.)

How we can see in the pictures, the board include the typical connectors to connect an expansion Arduino Shield (in yellow colour), or 12 white connectors where we can connect the modules using cables (this kit include 6 Grove cables) if we separate them from the panel.

Finally, the board include as well the reset button and some LEDs to indicate its status.

Pros:

    • The quality of the board is indisputable, it looks perfect: good welds, clean, everything well centered, etc.
    • Connectors differenced by colour, yellow for Arduino and white for Grove.
    • Reset button with status led, when you touch the reset button a led turns on to indicate it.
    • Microcontroller and chip Serial standers, easy to program with Arduino IDE.

Cons:

    • I can’t understand why they have used a MicroUSB instead of USB-C, I have such a bad experiences with this connector in boards without a shell. They should use USB-C.
    • The reset button can be difficult to push.
    • This Arduino board doesn’t have jack to power it without USB.

 

Modules

This kit include 10 modules with which we can learn a lot because they are the most typical modules that we can use. If you need extra modules you can find them on SeeedStudio website (They have more than 100 modules/sensors).

 

LED – D4 (output module)

This module contain a LED connected to a socket. It allows us to change the LED if we want. The module includes a potentiometer to modify the voltage that the LED receives. The D4 pin, where it’s connected, isn’t compatible with PWM, so we can not modify the brightness by Arduino.

Pros: LED interchangeable, brightness dimmable by hardware.

Cons: It doesn’t support dimmable by software.
(if we separate the module from the board, maybe we can connect it to another connector with PWM, but I don’t want to separate, so I’m not sure if this will work)

Grove Beginner Kit – LED module

 

Buzzer – D5 (output module)

There are two kinds of buzzers, active or passive. The first one we can turn on/off and this generates sound itself, however for the second one, the passive, we need to generate the sound. This module contain a passive buzzer, so we can generate different sounds using a PWM pin. The module is pre-wired with the D5 pin which supports PWM.

Pros: It can play so many kinds of sounds by software.

Cons: Nothing.

Grove Beginner Kit – Buzzer

 

OLED Display – I2C (output module)

This module includes a white OLED display with a size of 0.96″ and a resolution of 128×64. It’s pre-wired to the main board using the I2C interface. The I2C default address for this module is 0x78 but we can change to 0x7A with the SMD jumper that the module includes. (cutting the wired and soldering the pads, but we don’t need to do it except if we have another module using the same address, not with this kit)

Pros: It’s possible to change the I2C address.

Cons: It’s not a colour display and doesn’t have SMD pads. *

 

Button – D6 (input module)

This module is a simple button, we can push it and read from Arduino when it’s pulsing. It’s connected to the D6 pin.

Pros: Nothing

Cons: We can’t use external interruptions because the D6 pin doesn’t support it. (We can separate the board and connect it using a cable). It doesn’t have SMD pads. *

Grove Beginner Kit – Button

 

Rotatory potentiometer – A0 (input module)

This another module contain a rotatory potentiometer, we can read a value between 0 to 1023. It’s a simple potentiometer, not an encoder, so we can not spin it 360º. It’s connected to the A0 pin.

Pros: Nothing

Cons: I think the module should have had a rotary encoder, not a potentiometer. A rotary encoder is more functional to control a screen menu.

Grove Beginner Kit – Rotary Potentiometer

 

Light – A6 (input module)

This is another anagogic module. In this case this module can get the level of light, with the example sketch that the Arduino has preprogramed the sensor read a value between 0 to 748. It’s connected to the A6 pin.

Pros: Nothing

Cons: Nothing

 

Sound – A2 (input module)

This module is able to detect sounds using the anagogic A2 pin. For example we can use it to turn on/off a light using a clap.

Pros: Nothing

Cons: Nothing

Grove Beginner Kit – Sound

 

Temperature and Humidify – D3 (input module)

It’s one of the most typical sensors to detect the temperature and humidity that we can find on internet. It’s a good sensor but its older brother is most sensitive than this. It’s connected to the D3 pint.

Pros: Nothing

Cons: The sensor that this module has is the DHT11, they should have put the DHT22 because is more sensitive an precise, and this is not to much expensive.

 

Air pressure – I2C (input module)

This board include a barometer which is a scientific instrument that is used to measure air pressure in a certain environment. It’s connected using the I2C bus.

Pros: Nothing

Cons: It isn’t possible to change the I2C address. It doesn’t have SMD pads. *

Grove Beginner Kit – Barometer

 

3-Axis Acceleration (input module)

This is one of the most interesting modules in this kit after the OLED screen, with the demo we can move a ball on the screen. This module is connected using the I2C bus.

Pros: Nothing

Cons: This sensor is soldered on the board in the wrong position, if you check the picture you can see how the axis X and Y are inverted between them. It can be fixed by software.

It isn’t possible to change the I2C address.

Grove Beginner Kit – 3 Axis

 

* All boards except the button, OLED, and air pressure have SMD pads on the bottom layer, it can be interesting if we want to solder cables or the board directly to another board. I checked the Eagle schematic file and each board has been designed/checked by different person, so I think the three boards don’t have these pads because someone forgot to put it. I can’t imagine another reason.

 

Code

I want to share the code that I made. I used the original code that the board include and I have improved it as much as I could. Now, the sketch include a example per each sensor/module in the board, so the sketch include 10 demonstrations.

 

You can see it in the following video:

 

Conclusion

This board is perfect to focus only in the progradation. I have been programming it for a whole week and this was so funny and addictive! (It’s truth that I didn’t have another thing to do :D). With this kit you can spend a lot of hours making a wonderful user interface and drawing all information there. You can control al screens using the button and rotatory potentiometer as well.

It’s a good way to start with Arduino, but I’m sure you will miss anything else and you will want more modules, 10 is not enough!.

Now, I will list the good, normal, and bad things that I think this kit has.

 

Good

  • It’s great not to need to use any cable. You only need to program the code, nothing more.
  • Everything is perfectly described on the board.
  • The documentation on their wiki is magnificent, they have written a lot information to start and understand each part of this kit.
  • This kit has a good price for starting with Arduino, it’s less that official Arduino and include a lo of modules.

Normal

  • This boards should have had a USB-C as a connector instead of a MicroUSB.
  • It’s a little difficult to push the reset button.
  • The temperature and humidity sensor doesn’t have too much precision, they should have put a DHT22 instead of a DHT11.
  • In my opinion there are too much analog sensors in this kit. I miss a MicroSD module to practice the reading and writing of files in a MicroSD and check it in a computer. I miss a Bluetooth, WiFi, or infrared sensor as well.
  • I would like this kit include another microcontroller instead of ATmega328p, it can be full easily because the OLED screen require a lot of memory.

Bad

  • The axis sensor is soldered in the wrong position and this require you have to modify the code to fix it.
  • The kit include a rotatory potentiometer instead of a rotatory encoder, it’s so hard to make a friendly user interface, if you make a main menu with submenus the selection of the submenu will affect to the main menu and you will have to move again the selection/cursor.
  • The button is not connected to an interruption pin, so you have to read it every time to know if the user has pressed the button, this is inefficient and make the code difficult to program.
  • We have only one button, it’s difficult to program user interface with a menu and submenus, it could have been better if they have added a rotary encoder with centre button.

Escriba aquí su comentario