Many of the top embedded electronic device manufacturers decided to design a standard connector to interface sensors and external devices to their microcontroller development boards and single-board computers. One such example of this comes from the Chinese manufacturer Seeed Studio who introduced the Grove ecosystem within one year of its launch. To interface a third-party accessory like sensors, LEDs, wireless modules, displays, and actuators can be challenging with all the soldering and jumper wires. Solving this issue for all the hackers out there, the Grove ecosystem aims to provide a unified connecting port for most of the important external modules.
We have witnessed a demand for interfacing sensors and displays to our favorite development boards. The Grove ecosystem is one of the most successful hardware development programs to takle this problem. Moreover, the flexibility to connect Grove modules through pin headers on Raspberry Pi and Arduino has given a rise to something never seen before. Primarily the Grove ecosystem works in a way that the base unit (usually a microprocessor) and the module come with standardized connectors for easy connection, experimentation and build process of real-life applications.
Similar: Not to forget the Adafruit Qwiic connect system.
One of the latest additions to the long list of Grove modules, Thermal Imaging Camera. This IR thermal camera is designed to detect the temperature of the objects in the sensing zone. The center area accuracy of this thermal imaging camera is around ±1℃ and average accuracy of ±1.5℃. The hardware uses an I2C serial communication protocol to get the low-resolution images from the onboard camera. There are several options to choose from for specifically this product depending on the pixel size of the IR thermal sensor and the field of view.
Specifications of Grove - Thermal Imaging Camera (MLX90640)
- IR Thermal Sensor Array: 32x24 pixel
- High field-of-view: 55°x35°
- Temperature measurement range: 40℃~300℃
- Interface: I2C Serial communication protocol
- Operating voltage: 3-3.6V
- Resolution: ±1.5°C
- Refresh rate: 0.5Hz-64Hz
Another release within the Grove ecosystem comes to the Oxygen sensor, which is used to detect the oxygen concentration in the air. Many of the critical applications in the environmental domain require such sensors to interface with their powerful microcontroller boards. “Under the catalysis of the electrodes, a redox reaction occurs on the working electrode and the counter electrode, thereby generating a current.” This new version of Grove Oxygen Sensor is based on the MIX8410-O2 sensor for industrial monitors, oxygen analysis meters and remote IoT applications.
Specifications of Grove - Oxygen Sensor (MIX8410)
- Sensor type: MIX8410 electrochemical oxygen sensor
- Sensitivity: 0.1±0.03 mA
- Response time: <10s
- Input voltage: 3.3/5V
- Interface: Analog
- Measurement range: 0-25%
- Operating temperature: -20 to 50℃
Also, make sure you check out the Grove Oxygen Sensor Pro with a built-in microcontroller and temperature sensor.
The OLED display is the need of the hour when it comes to monitoring parameters. These parameters can be in an industrial environment or even atmospheric concentrations. 1.12-inch OLED display offers 128x128 pixel resolution with high contrast and brightness. When compared with interfacing an LCD display, this OLED provides self-emission, wide viewing angle and low power consumption. The hardware gives the option to choose between I2C and SPI serial communication protocols to light up the display.
Specifications of Grove - OLED Display
- Type: OLED Display
- OLED Driver: SH1107 Dot Matrix OLED Driver with Controller
- Supply voltage: 3.3V / 5V
- Output voltage: 0 ~ 2.3V
- Interface: I2C and SPI
- Pixels: 128x128 resolution
- Operating temperature: -40℃ ~ +85 ℃
For location tracking on your Raspberry Pi or Arduino development board, the Grove GPS module can make a good choice with its cost efficiency and ease of use. The GPS module supports the NMEA and U-Blox 6 protocols. As designed for an easy interface, the hardware can be directly plugged into the Grove UART interface of the development board to access precise and low-power GPS position recognition around the globe. The module features 22 tracking and 66 acquisition channels for GPS receivers.
Specifications of Grove - GPS Module
- Module: GPS module-SIM28
- Baud rate: 9,600 – 115,200
- Navigation sensitivity: -160dBm
- Power supply: 3.3/5V
- Number of channels: 22 tracking and 66 channels
- Antenna: included
- Accuracy: 2.5m GPS Horizontal Position Accuracy
- Dimensions:40x20x13 mm
You can also consider checking the new Grove - GPS (Air530) high performance, highly integrated multi-mode satellite positioning and navigation module.
Many of the embedded electronic device manufacturers have started designing hardware kits for students. A similar Grove Smart Agriculture Kit comes in handy for Microsoft FarmBeats giving exposure to data-intensive projects using artificial intelligence, machine learning and the internet of things. More interesting along with the temperature, moisture, sunlight, humidity sensor, the kit provides the powerful Raspberry Pi 4B single-board computer. Several external devices included in the kit makes it a perfect solution for school garden monitoring and hobby projects.
Specifications of Grove Smart Agriculture Kit
- Module: Raspberry Pi 4 Computer Model 2GB V1.2
- Power supply: Wall Adapter Power Supply
- Raspberry Pi HAT: Grove Base Hat for Raspberry Pi with a Fan
- Sensors: One Wire Temperature Sensor, Grove - Capacitive Soil Moisture Sensor, Grove - Sunlight Sensor, Grove Temperature and Humidity Sensor, Grove - Relay, Grove - Dual Button
- Interface: USB to TTL Serial Cable
- Storage: micro–SD Card with Card Reader - 32GB
Last on the list comes the Grove Inventor Kit for a micro:bit pocket-sized computer. The most important module in the inventor kit is the Grove shield for micro:bit v2, which is a plug-and-play grove extension board. With the Grove Shield, you can use several Grove modules like sensors, displays, actuators to interact with the mini-computer. A total of 8 grove modules in the inventor kit lets you build applications to measure distance, display parameters, and even play different music.
Specifications of Grove Inventor Kit for micro:bit
- Expansion board: Grove Shield for micro:bit v2
- Sensors: Grove - Rotary Angle Sensor(P), Grove - Ultrasonic Ranger, Grove - Light Sensor v1.2, Grove - Gesture
- Other grove modules: Grove - Speaker, Grove - WS2812 Waterproof LED Strip - 30 LEDs 1 meter, Grove - Red LED
- Display: Grove - 4-Digit Display
- Cables: Micro USB Cable - 48cm, 10x Alligator Cable, 7x Grove Cable
Is it worth buying Seeed Studio Grove Modules?
With over 400 modules ranging from sensors, LEDs, inputs, wireless, displays, actuators, breakouts, kits, and accessories, make it one of the most successful hardware development programs. The flexibility through a wide range of external devices gives the opportunity to explore various applications on the same microcontroller. Even hardware without Grove connectors can be integrated with Grove modules through pin headers. It wouldn’t be surprising to see more advanced and complex external devices for your application.