Seeed Studios has offered the Grove Starter Kits for some time now. The kits are designed as modular approaches to get started on the Arduino platforms. Kits come with small modules, each of which may contain a sensor, display, LED, button and many more peripherals. In addition, each can easily be connected to an Arduino shield through a simple cable assembly known as Grove cables. These cable connections eliminate the need for breadboard wiring or soldering connections, making it easier for beginners to get started working with the Arduino. Now, Seeed Studios has released a Grove Beginner Kit, which makes getting started one step easier.
The Grove Beginner Kit comes as a single PCB fitted with an Arduino compatible Seeeduino Lotus with the corresponding headers and additional connectors specifically for connecting Grove cables to Grove modules. The kit’s uniqueness is that all the modules included are already wired to the Arduino motherboard through PCB traces. This eliminates the need for using any cables and allows users to start coding without the need for wiring modules together.
Fitted on the kit is an LED module, a buzzer module, an OLED module, a button module, a rotary potentiometer module, as well as sensor modules including light, sound, temp and humidity, air pressure, and a 3-axis accelerator. In addition, the kit comes with one micro USB cable and six grove cables. Each module can be left on the board, or if desirable, the modules can be cut out to be used in an application or test setup. An outline of the modules included can be seen in the picture below.
Right out of the box (before breaking apart the circuit boards), the Grove Beginner Kit for Arduino is ready to be used with pre-loaded programs for using each of the sensor modules. Plug in all the modules to the central “Lotus.” These tests will not teach you anything except how the sensors are supposed to work (except the breadboard one… that is for your own custom circuits). It was fun to see each sensor module do its thing right away. The potentiometer module, with push-button, is used to select the different sensor module test programs — and by using it, itself is being tested.
It’s probably a good idea to jump over to the Seeed website for the Grove Beginner Kit. What I always love about Seeed products is how quickly you can get up and running with absolutely everything explained to you on their site. There are a few starter guides that are easy to follow. There are even a few video courses that will hand-hold you through the use of all the hardware in the kit.
Getting projects started was a dream — so smooth and almost zero troubleshooting. Be sure you firmly plug the connectors into the sockets. That’s all I had a little issue in testing.
However, there is a PDF, including twelve tutorial projects. This is what I used. The PDF begins by outlining what is included on the PCB and the connections of the modules to the Arduino compatible pins. A quick overview of the Arduino IDE has included as well as a guide on installing the needed drivers. The first couple of projects begin with the most basic “Hello world” for hardware (blinking an LED) and controlling the LED light with a button and LED brightness using a potentiometer. As users progress through the tutorials, the level of technical difficulty increases to include controlling an OLED and temp/humidity sensor through I2C interfaces — sort of like a trial by fire way of learning.
Each tutorial includes a brief overview of the project and the components involved. Additionally, the code is included in the tutorial itself as well as in a separate file that can be downloaded and opened in the Arduino environment. The tutorials do an excellent job of stepping through chunks of the code and briefly describing functions, and giving descriptions of what the syntax means. Other than trying to write and test code yourself, this is a great alternative way to learn the syntax of code as well as common functions used to make programs work.
This is invaluable. I typically would take the code from examples/tutorials and use them as a foundation for whatever project I had in mind. Why re-invent what works?
The kit is ideal for beginners getting started and looking to explore the Arduino system and classes looking to teach coding for STEM education. The price of the kit is also very affordable. The Grove beginner kit can be purchased for only $19.90 from Seeedstudio.com. A wide variety of additional modules (over 300) can be purchased for further learning and tinkering. Some notable expansion modules available include GPS devices, IR detectors and FM receivers, motor drivers, relays, actuators, and speakers. This kit is a great way to get started with Arduino without all the DIY wiring troubleshooting, that has often been a bit of a stumbling block.