Get yourself connected: GrovePi+ Starter Kit
Raspberry Pi projects made easy
Easy does it
It’s quick and easy. I built a simple Pi protection system with the ultrasonic ranger and a red LED in just a few minutes and with a handful of lines of code. Then I plugged in the buzzer and set that to sound when the LED lit up – and pretty pronto a button to reset the system and turn off the noise. It took me longer to wrack my brains for Python‘s string formatting syntax than it did to hook up and code the character LCD as a simple time-stamped alarm incident log.
Pi protection up and running
The Starter Kit costs £39, the GrovePi+ on its own £15.60. Most of the modules cost around £1.24. All the bits used in my test project came to more than the price of the Starter Kit, so the bundle is certainly a good place to start. And if adopting the Grove systems ties you in to the board and module selection, at least that selection is very extensive and the modules inexpensive. It does seem good value.
That said, the jury is still out. I tested a pre-release version of the GrovePi+, which communicates with the Pi via I²C. I experienced a number of IO errors, all related to I²C communications, during the time I spent with the Kit. Dexter Industries Forum posts relating to the GrovePI+’s predecessor suggest this is not uncommon but at least can be caught and managed in the core Python code.
Dexter reckons that’s a job for the application developer – only you know how much of a problem such errors are for your specific project. Still, given GrovePi+ is pitched as the easy approach, Dexter really should have made this more intuitive or worked to eliminate the problem altogether.
Simple as Pi?
The Reg Verdict
So, the easy way or the hard way? For me, the GrovePi+ way is too easy: it’s all done for you, so you learn nothing that’ll help you when you come to connect a peripheral that isn’t included in the selection of GrovePi sensors. Hooking up an LCD via one of the GrovePi+’s I²C ports tells you nothing about how that LCD is controlled, or about how to make use of the I²C bus. And isn’t that what the Pi, Arduino, Beaglebone and co. are all about – learning how devices work?
The other side of the coin cell is that if you have a gadget you want to build and you just want to get it made and working as quickly as possible, the GrovePi+ system’s ease of use will be really attractive. It’s good for schools who want to teach how programs affect the real world but don’t want to get bogged down in electronics. ®