Introduction: Seeeduino Film and Motion Capture

The Seeeduino Film is a very small and flexible Arduino-compliant board.  It uses a single 20-pin bus on a Flat Flexible Cable (FFC) to connect to a variety of breakout boards designed to be used with the Seeeduino Film.  

In this tutorial, I will show you how to program your Seeeduino Film as well as connect the Seeeduino Motion Frame to the Seeeduino Film.

Tools and Materials:
Seeeduino Film
Seeeduino Motion Frame
Soldering Iron and Solder
Jumper Wires/5-pin Header
Programmer (3.3V FTDI Breakout1 or 3.3V FTDI Breakout2  or UartSBee)

Step 1: Pin Outs and Mistakes to Avoid

The Seeeduino Film is incredibly small, which makes it a really great for applications where size and weight are important (RC Planes/Cars, Wearables, etc.).  And, while the Film and breakout boards are durable, the FFC is still fragile and should be handled delicately. 

We want to solder to the Programming Port labeled in the first picture.  The pin outs are order from left to right are: DTR, GND, TX, RX, and VCC.  I first used standard male breakaway headers.  These are usually great for prototyping, especially with a breadboard.  The problem I found was that if you are not careful when removing the Seeeduino Film from the breadboard, you can easily rip the Film.  Which is exactly what I did.

Step 2: Jumper Wires

Because of my clumsiness, and because I foresaw problems desoldering the 5-pin header when I was done prototyping, I decided to solder jumper wires instead of the header.  Jumper wires allow for easy desoldering and remove any unnecessary tension or pressure on the film when prototyping with a breadboard.  I used different colored wire for each pin to help debug and organize.

Step 3: Programming Film

You can use a wide variety of programmers to use with the Seeeduino.  I found that  FTDI breakouts sold by Adafruit and Sparkfun work well, as they already have female headers ready for jumper wires or male headers.  If you decide to use these you will have to be a little careful. First make you are using a 3.3V FTDI  breakout.  The pin outs of the FTDI breakouts from Adafruit and Sparkfun have an extra pin (CTS) and the pin outs don't match the order of the Seeeduino Film. You can still use them to program, just make sure that GND goes to GND, VCC->VCC, RX->TX, TX->RX and DTR->RST

Alternatively, you could use the UartSBee, also made by the Seeeduino crew.  This is also an FTDI breakout with two exta features: it serves as an XBee programmer and breakout with female sockets, and you can set the output voltage with a flick of the switch (3.3V and 5V).  This board correctly reflects the pin outs of the Seeeduino Film.  If you use the UartSBee make sure to set the output voltage to 3.3V.

I have used 3.3V Sparkfun FTDI breakouts and the UartSBee to program my Film boards and found no difference.  First, insert your wires into your breadboard, and double- or even triple-check that you know which pins map.  Next, line up your programmer and insert it into the breadboard.   After powering your programmer, hit the sleep button on the film and the Film's LED should blink! Your film is now ready to be programmed!  Load up Arduino and set Board type to Arduino Pro or Pro Mini (3.3V, 8MHz) w/ATmega168.

Step 4: Connecting FRAMEs

The Seeeduino Motion Frame is also built on a similar platform as the Seeeduino Film.  It, like the Film, uses a 20-pin bus, and has a FFC Socket and an FFC Finger (aka Golden Finger).  The Motion Frame board has a accelerometer, barometer, temperature sensor, and 32Mbits of flash for recording data.  The Seeeduino Film communicates with all of the devices using I2C communication.

To connect the Frame to the Film or the Film to the Frame, first unlock the socket.  The black plastic tab actually pulls out just a little bit.  See Pics.  Next, simply insert the Golden Finger of one of the Seeeduino products into the Socket of the other.  Finally, push the black tab back to lock.  Remember, treat the Film and Frame gently so as not to damage them.

Seeeduino is Arduino-compatible and the Seeeduino team has written several Arduino-based demos that interface with the Motion Frame.  They can be downloaded here.  Remember: when programming, use only 3.3V programmers and set the board type to Arduino Pro or Pro Mini (3.3V, 8MHz) w/ATmega168.

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