Saturday, January 19, 2013

Arduino Esplora Tinkerkit Outputs

The new Arduino Esplora has two orange output connectors at the top left of the device.  They have been identified as for connection to Tinkerkit devices.  I'm here to help the hacker use these connectors like they might on traditional Arduinos.
Turning it sideways and magnifying:

To connect, you'll want 3-pin molex connectors.  They are commonly used for PC fans.  You can find them at Sparkfun Electronics and other suppliers.  If you make your own connector, take the pins off, crimp a wire on, solder, then gently slip it in bump side upto the molex hole side up until it clicks in.  If you need to remove pins, get a paper clip tip and gently press on the pin through the connector while gently tugging out.  The completed molex connector will slide onto the orange male on the Esplora and click on.  To take your connectors off the Esplora, you might have to pry on the orange molex tab, then wiggle your female connector off.

Once you have connectors wired, connect to your devices or sensors.  Left, I show connecting an XBee on a Sparkfun XBee Explorer Regulated breakout board which handles the power step down to 3.3 volts for the Bee and the 5 volt to 3.3 volt signal line difference.  With my setup, I can use the SoftwareSerial library to define a software serial connection.  See  for more information.

Programming: the pins are used as any digital pin in the Arduino software.  They are digital pin 3 and digital pin 11.  Both support pulse-width modulation (PWM) so you can connect LEDs, servos, etc. and vary the pulses to brighter/speedup or dim/slow down your connected device (usually done with analogWrite even though it is a digital pin). Do NOT connect a regular (non-Tinkerkit) servo directly to the pins, the pinout is different.  See for more information.  As with all connections, be careful of the power you draw.

You can power the Esplora by putting 5 volts into the Tinkerkit connectors.  I highly suggest you ensure the polarity is correct several times before you actually do this as a reversed connection could destroy your device.  I (carefully) do this using a LiPo battery circuit described in a previous post.

If you need more digital pins for your project than these two, you can use the ones that have been reserved for a display.  See this post for more information.

Let me know what projects you build with these connectors.