Grove Modules


This guide will show you how to utilize Grove modules for the Bean+, specifically those included in the Grove Starter Kit.

As the name would suggest, Grove modules are modular sensors, actuators, displays, or other devices that can interface with the Bean+ directly through the A2/A3 and I2C ports (pictured below). With over 120 different Grove devices available, from CO2 sensors to serial MP3 players, the possibilities are endless!

Grove ports on Bean+

Before You Begin

This tutorial assumes you have completed the Getting Started guide and that you understand how to upload a sketch to Bean using Bean Loader.

You also need to understand how to use Virtual Serial to read data from Bean. If you haven't used this yet, check out the Virtual Serial guide before continuing.



Grove Module Communication

All Grove modules are connected with the same standardized 4-pin cables. All modules have at least one VCC (power) pin and at least one GND (ground) pin, which are used to power the modules. Most modules can run on either 5V or 3.3V power, but some require one or the other. You can check the Seeed Wiki to find specifications for each module.

Grove modules' I/O pins for sending and receiving data can be broken down into several categories, depending on the complexity of the module:

Single Data Pin: For the simpler sensors, the pins are VCC, GND, SIG (data), and NC (not connected; not to be confused with normally-closed). These essentially use just the three pins mentioned first, as NC is not connected to anything and has no electronic function. Some modules will not even have an NC pin. Data pins can be either analog, digital, or both, depending on the type of data being recorded by the sensor. You can learn more about digital pins here and analog pins here.

An example of a basic module (active buzzer module)

Two Data Pins: Basic sensors with more than one I/O pin will still have VCC and GND pins, but the NC/blank pin will be replaced by another data pin. In the image below, the sensor's data pins are labeled SUR and OBJ to identify them as surface temperature and object temperature.

An example of a basic sensor with two data pins (infrared temperature sensor)

I2C: Also known as inter-integrated circuit, this standard allows for multiple inputs and outputs through single pins. Devices communicating via I2C have a master/slave relationship, where the master can communicate with multiple slaves by forcing the incoming/outgoing data pin (SDA, or Serial Data Line) to take turns based on time intervals specified by the master device on a clock pin (SCL, or Serial Clock Line). I2C modules also have VCC and GND pins for power and ground. You can learn more about I2C here.

An example of an I2C module (I2C touch sensor hub)
Another I2C example, this one has an NC pin (NunChuck module)

Shift Registers: Like I2C, shift registers are used for sending or receiving input or output from a number of devices through a turn-based process. Shift registers also have VCC, GND, data (D), and clock (DCK) pins. They differ in that they can send multiple "commands" at a time using bit-shifted values. The example below shows the Grove LED bar, which has its own library to circumvent the need to send raw bit-shifted data. In addition to the 4-pin Grove port, this module also has data-out and data-in pins, which can be used to daisy-chain several of them together. You can learn more about shift registers here.

An example of a chainable shift register (LED bar module)

UART: Also known as Universal Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter, this protocol is rarely used in Grove modules and is not supported by the Bean+ hardware. These modules can be identified by their TX (transmit) and RX (receive) pins. You can learn more about UART here.

SPI: The Serial Peripheral Interface protocol is not currently used by any Grove modules other than the Grove Base BoosterPack. SPI devices can be identified by having MOSI (master out, slave in) and MISO (master in, slave out) pins. You can learn more about SPI here.

To learn more about any specific Grove module, check out the Grove wiki on Seeed for example projects and in-depth explanations.

Connect Grove Modules

Now we will connect some of the Grove modules from the Grove Starter Kit. This project will use the touch sensor, potentiometer, and buzzer modules, as well as some basic jumper wires.

Grove modules for this project

Plug the included 4-wire header cables into the modules:

Grove modules with cables connected

Next, connect the potentiometer to the A2/A3 port and the buzzer into the buzzer into the I2C port as shown below:

Plug the Grove modules into the Bean+

If we run out of Grove ports like we have just now, there is an easy workaround; connect some wires to the touch sensor (the colors of the wires do not matter, but matching wire colors will help us kep track of which ones go where):

Attach wires to the touch sensor cable

Now connect the pins of the touch sensor to the Bean+ as follows:

VCC → 5V


SIG → D0

Closeup of the pins connecting to the touch sensor

Everything should be connected now. Make sure your Bean+ looks like the one in the image below:

Your Bean+ should look like this one

Program Your Bean

Now that all the hardware is connected, upload the following sketch to your Bean. This sketch will emit noises from the buzzer whenever the touch sensor is pressed, and the frequency of the noise can be altered with the potentiometer.

#define TOUCH_SENSOR     0
#define BUZZER           A5

#define NOTE_ON_TIME     50
#define NOTE_OFF_TIME    100

#define MIN_POT_VAL      0
#define MAX_POT_VAL      1023
#define MIN_TONE         2000
#define MAX_TONE         4400

int note, potential;

void setup() 
  pinMode(BUZZER, OUTPUT);

void loop()
  if (digitalRead(TOUCH_SENSOR) == HIGH)
    potential = analogRead(POTENTIOMETER);
    note = map(potential, MIN_POT_VAL, MAX_POT_VAL, MIN_TONE, MAX_TONE);


    tone(BUZZER, note, NOTE_ON_TIME);


Here's what the code does:

  • Line 1: Define the touch sensor as a digital pin, which will read as 1 or 0.
  • Lines 2-3: Define the potentiometer and buzzer as analog pins, which will read/write as a range of values.
  • Lines 5-6: Define the constant times for the amount of time a note is played, and the delay between notes, respectively.
  • Lines 8-11: Define the minimums and maximums for the potentiometer and tone frequencies.
    • The potentiometer is an analog input device, so it will have an effective range of 0-1023 (210).
    • The buzzer is an analog output device, and has an effective range of 31-65535, in hertz (the average human ear can only hear up to around 20,000 Hz).
  • Lines 15-20: Our setup void, where we initialize the three signal pis as input or output. Certain devices, such as pizeoelectric buzzers, can be used for both input and output.
  • Lines 24-33: If the touch sensor is currently being touched, do the following:
    • Line 26: Read the analog value of the potentiometer.
    • Line 27: Map potential, our analog value between 0 and 1023, to note, our audio frequency between 2000 and 4400.
    • Lines 29-30: Print the current audio frequency to serial.
    • Line 32: Play the tone on the BUZZER pin, at the frequency of note, for NOTE_ON_TIME milliseconds.
  • Line 35: Pause the program for NOTE_OFF_TIME milliseconds before looping back through again.


In this guide, we learned how to use the Grove ports on the Bean+. The Grove modules from this demo are available in the Grove Starter Kit, and other Grove modules can be purchased from the Seeed.


Having trouble with this guide? Try the steps listed in General Bean troubleshooting. Or reach out to our community at Beantalk for direct help with your problem.