The IoT hardware landscape is ever changing from the new Raspberry Pi 3 to various Arduino boards. One thing Raspberry Pi has offered that Arduino hasn’t been capable of is to run Windows IoT Core. Now, the add-on device market for Raspberry Pi with Windows IoT Core has remained somewhat limited, as Windows IoT Core is still fairly new. This has meant wiring up servos, sensors and other things has been difficult for the average developer. With the introduction of the new Microsoft IoT Grove Kit you can now easily plugin servos, sensors, etc. with a single plug that really stream lines the prototyping process!
What is the MS IoT Grove Kit?
The Microsoft IoT Grove Kit is a Starter Kit aimed at making hardware prototyping with the Raspberry Pi 2 or 3 easier for developers than ever before. Traditionally, you would have to get out a breadboard and jumper wires, or solder wires and sensors together. With the Microsoft IoT Grove Kit and the GrovePi+ you no longer need to solder anything.
This means you don’t really need that great of an electronics skill set in order get started prototyping a hardware / IoT project using this kit. Many developer do have some electronics skills, or have learned over time, but there is a greater many number of developers that don’t. This kit is perfect for them, as well as anyone.
Here’s some key features of the MS IoT Grove Kit:
- Easy-to-use GrovePi+
- Compatible with Raspberry Pi 2 and Raspberry Pi 3
- Plug-n-play Grove Modules enable rapid prototyping
The Microsoft IoT Grove Kit makes prototyping IoT project extremely easy. You just plugin the Grove Modules you need for your project to add sensors, servos and other things. You can connect up to 15 modules at the same time! Then you can program against the GrovePi+ directly with less hassle than before.
What’s in the kit?
The Microsoft IoT Grove Kit comes with everything you need to get started prototyping IoT projects using a Raspberry Pi.
The kit includes:
- 1x GrovePi+
- 1x 5-inch HDMI Display with USB TouchScreen
- 1x Flat HDMI Male-to-Male cable (1M)
- 1x Micro USB cable
- 10x 26 awg Grove cables
- 10x Grove Modules!
The Grove Modules included in the kit include:
- 1x Grove – Relay
- 1x Grove – Temperature + Humidity Sensor
- 1x Grove – Ultrasonic Ranger
- 1x Grove – LED Bar v2.0
- 1x Grove – Rotary Angle Sensor(P)
- 1x Grove – Buzzer
- 1x Grove – Sound Sensor
- 1x Grove – Light Sensor v1.2
- 1x Grove – Button
- 1x Grove – LCD RGB Backlight
It’s important to note, the Microsoft IoT Grove Kit does not come with a Raspberry Pi.
The Microsoft IoT Grove Kit can be purchased for a starting price of $154.99, with volume discounts.
What is the GrovePi+?
The GrovePi+ is a modular system that makes hardware hacking with the Raspberry Pi extremely easy-to-use. With the GrovePi+ there’s no need for soldering or to use Breadboards. The GrovePi+ just plugs into the GPIO Header Pins on the Raspberry Pi and sits right on top of the board.
There are over 100 plug-and-play modules that can sense and control the physical world. Each module just plugs into one of the connectors on the GrovePi+ board without the need to use a breadboard or get out a soldering iron.
Even though the current focus by Microsoft with the GrovePi+ is to use it with Windows IoT Core and the Raspberry Pi 2 or 3, the GrovePi+ is completely compatible with the Raspberry Pi B, B+, and A+ as well!
The GrovePi+ can be purchase individually, outside of the Microsoft IoT Grove Kit, for roughly $30 for just the GrovePi+. This could be useful if you already purchased the kit and wish to add another device, or perhaps you have a specific sensor or two of interest and don’t need the entire kit.
GrovePi+ and Windows IoT Core Programming
The GrovePi+ paired with a Raspberry Pi 2 or Raspberry Pi 3 is fully compatible with Windows IoT Core. And, as such, you can build Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps for the Raspberry Pi that interfaces with the Grove Modules connected to the GrovePi+.
The UWP App development tools and Windows IoT Core are NOT natively compatible with the GrovePi+. For this reason, in order to program against the GrovePi+ you need to include a reference to the GrovePi nuget package within your UWP App in Visual Studio. The GrovePi package adds the necessary API support to interact with various Grove Modules from .NET code.
Here’s a couple samples of using the GrovePi library in C#:
// Ultrasonic sensor plugged into digital pin 2 (D2) var distance = DeviceFactory.Build.UltraSonicSensor( Pin.DigitalPin2 ).MeasureInCentimeters(); // Display "Hello World" on RGB LCD DeviceFactory.Build.RgbLcdDisplay() .SetText("Hello World") .SetBacklightRgb(0, 255, 255); // Sound buzzer plugged into digital pin 2 (D2) DeviceFactory.Build.Buzzer(Pin.DigitalPin2) .ChangeState(SensorState.On);
At the time of writing this the Grove Modules supported by the GrovePi nuget package includes:
The GrovePi driver nuget package is written in C# and released Open Source over on GitHub:
Being open source, it opens up the library to be extended by the community as well.
Have fun prototyping your next IoT project with the GrovePi+ and Microsoft IoT Grove Kit!