Raspberry Pi’s are great little Linux devices but they have plenty of limitations when it comes to comes to wiring up to the analog world or just behaving like a micro-controller. There’s been various attempts to weld Pi and Arduino together (I have some) like the Dexter Industries’ BrickPi that plugs you into the Lego bricosystem or their Arduberry which brings Arduino shield connectors out the top of the board.
The idea is simple in that it’s actually an Arduino-compatible micro-controller on the board with firmware which talks serial to the Raspberry Pi to take instructions on how to control the various I/O ports belonging to the controller. It’s also quite compelling, especially when you realise that later on you can put your own firmware on the micro-controller.
But wiring stuff up is a chore, especially when you are learning or teaching how to control things. Thats where I’ve found the Grove kit really handy. It’s prebuilt sensors and displays and controls and… well there’s lots… and they all connect using identical four wire cables and connectors to a standard 4 pin port. There’s shields for Arduino devices which give a load of these ports and there’s Arduino compatibles with these ports on them and you’ll even find them on Intel IoT hardware. The folks at Seeed Studio took to uniting these ideas and created the GrovePi, a board for the Pi which was based on the BrickPi concept but then put all the IO on Grove ports.
And now they are about to ship the GrovePi+ and a Grove Pi+ Starter Kit which comes with 12 Grove sensors or outputs. The GrovePi+ wiki gives more detail. The refresh works with the B, B+ and A+ models and has mounting holes to match each of them. The serial connection is more reliable and faster, there’s a hole for the camera cable to pass through and there’s better voltage level handling.
So if you’re looking for a way to make teaching internet of things things with the Raspberry Pi, the Grove Pi+ might be right up your street. Me? I already have the sensors so I’ll just be grabbing the board and hacking away.