Getting into Arduino and Grove sensors

In this post, my second covering some exploration with my 7-yr-old son into #IoT and #maker projects, I’ll explore why we’ve moved on from the IOIO-OTG and into Arduino.

Grove 3-ais Gyro

If you’re new to all of this, have some coding ability, and crave the experience of working with dozens of cool sensors, then Grove is the answer for you!

I certainly approached this hobby with some expectation that we (my son and I) would be sampling a lot of different technology. While I didn’t expect to move into something else so quickly, we are already happy we did. There’s nothing wrong at all with IOIO-OTG and what that board allows you to do. As far as our immediate ideas were concerned, IOIO should have allowed us to invent most things. Per my first post, we were quick to get up and running with Sparkfun‘s Inventor kit — coding was easy and working with the breadboard was just the right challenge for our beginner level. I even got the bluetooth feature going, which made testing new apps more fun and faster.

However, as our ideas expanded into using sensors, and my research took me deeper into the #maker world, I found the amazing array of Grove sensors (mostly made available by SeeedStudio) a very attractive road to take. And while they make an IOIO-OTG Grove shield, which I though would be perfect, the complete lack of code samples to read Grove sensors via IOIO board pins proved too big an obstacle to overcome.

I ordered a bunch of sensors, including their 3-axis Digital Gyro (pictured above), and the IOIO-OTG Grove shield thinking I would either figure it out or find some examples. My request for help directly to SeeedStudio and on the IOIO forums were met with little useful assistance, and it just proved too much of a learning curve at this point.

So I took a trip to good old Radio Shack and conveniently picked up, with a slight and expected price markup, an Arduino Uno and a SEEED Motor Shield. I chose this shield because it came with a few Grove ports. Within minutes of returning home and getting some code on the Arduino, my Grove sensors started to come alive!

If you’re new to all of this, have some coding ability, and crave the experience of working with dozens of cool sensors, then Grove is the answer for you!

Grove shield on Arduino

SeeedStudio has done an amazing job cataloging all their Grove sensors in a Wiki, with code samples, tutorials and much more. While they make Arduino boards of their own flavor, with built-in Grove ports, I found it just as easy to order an additional Base shield (pictured above), with all the digital and serial grove ports we could ever need!

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this Adrduino and Grove sensor approach is that all the example code is completely self-contained. Unlike Android or iOS coding, the Arduino sample sketches can be opened and uploaded to the Arduino Uno in just 2 clicks. Everything is well-documented, which has allowed us to customize the code and combine sensors and elements to our liking.

Coding with Arduino

I’ve been able to turn the coding fun over to my son, who is able to swap shields and Grove sensors with ease! The setup() and loop() scheme within the Arduino sketch is super easy to grasp.

As the fun continues, I’ll likely post next with more details and learnings about coding with Arduino and Grove. We also have to tackle another challenge and that involves getting Bluetooth (and hopefully BLE) working on Arduino so we can send that awesome Grove sensor data to a smartphone app. I’d say with Arduino and Grove sensors, we’re finally getting started!