Seeedstudio Grove Starter Kit for Arduino Review

Full disclosure: I received this kit, along with the Arduino Uno, from Arrow at CES 2018. However, I’m not getting anything from them or Seeedstudio for writing this review.

The Seeedstudio Grove Starter Kit is designed to make it easy to start making Arduino electronics projects by simplifying the most cumbersome part: wiring. While the various Arduino boards have been designed to make prototyping and development as easy as possible, actually wiring components is still a hassle. Most components require between 2 and 5 wires, which usually need to be connected to the Arduino via a breadboard. Even a simple project ends up turning into a rat’s nest of hookup wires.

The Arduino Uno Shield and component modules included with the kit

The Grove line eliminates that inconvenience by using a Shield to break out the I/O and power pins of an Arduino Uno into a handful of 4-pin connectors. Those are all identical, so that they can be used with any of the provided cables to connect components like sensors and servos. All you have to do is put the Grove shield onto your Arduino Uno, and connect your components to either an I2C, digital, or analog plug.

A quick demo project I threw together. This took me about an hour, from opening the box to this video.

From there, it’s just a matter of programming the logic using the standard Arduino IDE. Seeedstudio provides a number of code examples for each of the components, which you can patch together to quickly get your project up and running. Aside from the RGB-backlit LCD included in the Starter Kit, all of the components work with standard Arduino functions.

This setup is ideal for young makers, and for Arduino beginners in general. Most mistakes are made while wiring projects, and the Grove system removes the possibility of damaging components. Or, the far more common problem: the frustrating experience of hunting down an improper connection.

The only real downsides of Grove concept are the expense and the bulk. Each component is built into a small PCB module, some of which contain supplementary ICs, and connected with the interchangeable cables. That makes individual Grove components much more expensive than their bare counterparts. An LED, for example, would normally only cost you a few cents, but the Grove LED module runs about $2.

Grove modules are far more expensive than bare components

The shield, connectors, cables, and PCB-mounted components also make a project pretty bulky. You do save space by avoiding the use of a breadboard, but even a simple project is going to be anything but compact. That said, Grove isn’t really intended for finished projects—it’s supposed to be used for prototyping and education.

For those purposes, I think the Seeedstudio Grove Starter Kit is a fantastic choice. The ease of use makes it ideal for teaching young makers about the basics of building and programming projects. And, because everything is built on the Arduino, it would be easy to translate those projects to work with standard, more inexpensive, components.