Getting Started with Arduino – PRO Mini

Good! You are here because you wanted to use Arduino. 1st thing 1st, you will need the necessary tools to get started.

Arduino Main Board

Currently, there are > 10 types of Arduino main board in the market including 3rd party, compatible version, etc. We will not cover all. I will focus on Arduino PRO Mini -5V 16MHz. Other types of Arduino main board have the basic operation, with a little tuning and exploring, I am sure you can get the hang of it. So get the Arduino PRO Mini. Please take note, there are several type of PRO Mini, we are carrying 5V running with 16MHz. Other versions are 3.3V with 8MHz, 5V with 8MHz, etc. If you have any problem, welcome to discuss in our technical forum. You can also refer to:

UC00A Rev2.0 or Compatible Device

Arduino PRO Mini is an Arduino controller without the programming device installed on it. This is to reduce the cost of PRO Mini because the programming device can be reuse for other PRO Mini and Arduino controller, and is quite common. This is similar to BBFuino and Fio. Therefore, you need to get a tool to load program, we have that tool, the UC00A Rev2.0. Basically it is a USB to UART bridge. Arduino uses serial bootloader to load program into target Arduino board. UC00A Rev2.0 comes with the socket ready for Arduino PRO Mini 

USB cable

UC00A Rev2.0 will require a USB mini B cable. The cable is for connecting UC00A Rev2.0 to computer for loading program to PRO Mini, some cases for power and also for serial communication. BTW, USB mini B cable is commonly use on UIC00B, GPS, SKXBee Rev2.0 and Motorola phone. Try using those USB cable if you have one.

Arduino IDE

Arduino IDE is the software tool needed to write sketch (code), and load into the Arduino main board. Please go to Arduino website at arduino.cc, under Download, please download the corresponding IDE base on your Operating system (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux). This is the location to download the latest version of Arduino IDE.

Unzip the downloaded file.

Arduino Main Board to Computer

Now, since this is your 1st time, it is always going to be painful, right? BTW, I will be showing the steps using Windows XP only 🙂 Connect one end of the Mini B type USB cable to UC00A Rev2.0, and the other end to the computer/laptop USB port. The UC00A Rev2.0 will automatically use the power from USB to start up. The green LED (ON) on UC00A should be ON and. 1st time user, you will need to install the USB driver for UC00A Rev2.0. You should also hear sound from the computer and a little popup message box at the bottom right corner of the screen saying Found New Hardware…..FT232…. you will need to install the driver 🙂
The Found New Hardware Wizard will appear and please select No, not this time and click Next >

Select Install from a list of specific location (Advanced) in the next screen. Click Next >

The next screen, make sure you select Include this location and browse to the Arduino IDE folder that you just downloaded and upzipped. Select the drivers -> FTDI USB Drivers folder, and click OK.

The wizard should start searching for necessary files and install the driver, you should get this window, click Finish.

You might get this warning message pop up, just click Continue Anyway.

And it should install successfully and you will get this:

you might need to reboot/restart the computer to get the driver working properly, don’t worry, it’s only one time work! After the computer reboot, please make sure the UC00A Rev2.0 is plugged to the computer through the USB cable. The green LED is ON. We would like to know which COM number is the UC00A Rev2.0 connected to. Go to the Device Manager (from the Start Menu, select Settings -> Control Panel. Double Click on System and select Hardware tab. Then click on Device Manager).

Look for an entry under Ports (COM & LPT) that shows USB Serial Port (COM”X”) where X is a decimal number from 1 to 100. Seriously, I have seen COM72 before! Anyway the X can be any number and it should be a unique number and we need it in Arduino IDE later. So in this case, the COM number is 3. You will need to select the correct COM number to load program/sketch into Arduino PRO Mini later. If you don see any USB Serial Port, unplug USB cable and plug in again. Now, the driver for UC00A Rev2.0 is installed. Now connect the UC00A Rev2.0 to Arduino PRO Mini. You will need to get a 6-way right angle header pin, normally it comes in 40 pin. You will need to solder it onto Arduino PRO Mini. Being label “BLK” on left pin and “GRN” on the right pin. Solder it as show in the picture. I will call this 6-way pin the bootloader pin.


Now, don forget to solder the straight header pin too for the I/O usage. Get the straight header pin 1×40. There is 12-pin at each side of Arduino PRO Mini, you will need to cut the header pin with cutter.


Now, connect the socket of UC00A Rev2.0 to Arduino PRO Mini 6-way bootloader pin which you have just soldered. Remember, there is polarity for this connection. Make sure the GND (Black) on UC00A is connected to BLK pin on PRO Mini, and the DTR (Green) is connected to GRN pin on PRO Mini. Double confirm before you plug in.


Once the UC00A is connected to computer (via USB cable) and connected to PRO Mini properly, the Red LED (very small LED at center) on PRO Mini will ON, this indicate the is Power on PRO Mini. Arduino PRO Mini is preloaded with bootloader. Now is the time we load 1st sample program/sketch.

Good the pain is over 🙂 Let’s move to the fun part. Plug your PRO Mini onto Breadboard. We will do Hello World in Arduino – LED blinking. Open the folder Arduino that you download and unzipped, you should see a file named arduino.exe, double click it, Arduino IDE will appear, it may take a while to load, ~ 10 seconds. No further installation is needed. Arduino IDE does not require installation.

This is the Arduino IDE:

Make sure the UC00A Rev2.0 is connected to computer and Arduino PRO Mini. Arduino IDE supports many Arduino main boards. We will need to select the correct board and microcontroller. Goto Tools -> Board -> Arduino PRO or PRO Mini (5V, 16MHz) w/ ATmega328, click it.

Now, make sure Arduino IDE knows which COM Port the Arduino PRO Mini is connected to. Goto Tools -> Serial Port -> COM?, it depends on the COM number you checked from the device manager, make sure you select the same COM number. Remember, the number might be different when you use different USB port, change different UC00A and different computer. Again, mine is COM3. Do not follow my COM number, choose yours.

The settings will appear at the bottom right corner of Arduino IDE.
Now, you are ready to load the 1st example code, Blinking 🙂 Goto File -> Examples -> Basic -> Blink, click it. The example sketch/program will appear in a new Arduino IDE window, don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal. You can ignore the empty Arduino IDE that appeared earlier. You can close it or leave it. We will work on the new Arduino IDE with Blink sketch.

You can click the upload icon, Arduino IDE will compile the sketch and upload into Arduino PRO Mini connected to your computer (if there is no error), further run the sketch on PRO Mini. You will just have to wait until the message box say Upload Done and look at the Arduino PRO Mini. The Green LED (top right corner, top of Reset button) will blink at 1 second rate. That LED is connected to D13 of Arduino PRO Mini.

So we have downloaded new sketch/program into our PRO Mini, congrats! You have completed the 1st and foremost exercise. To make a little change, I will show you an easy modification. Scroll down the program/sketch, in the loop function. Modify the value from delay(1000) to delay(100), for both the delay. Click on the Upload icon and sit back, wait until it is done uploading.

Now, look at the Green LED blinking rate, it has become faster 🙂 You have successfully load an example code/sketch and modify it. Hurray! You can try the other examples, but most will require additional shields or components. Just a reminder, PRO Mini is designed for compact and intermediate user, it is not compatible with shields because of the size and shape, but all the sample code using Arduino IDE can works as long as the interface is correct. We will come out with more tutorials, stay tuned! If you have problem do feel free to discuss in our technical forum as we seldom check comments area in tutorial site.

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8 thoughts on “Getting Started with Arduino – PRO Mini

  1. Hi,

    I’d like to start by saying this is a FANTASTIC website that looks like it has a lot of useful stuff on it, especially for me.

    My question is related to uploading codes onto the arduino pro mini. I am carrying out a project which incorporates the use of this particular arduino board, to upload programs I am using an FTDI cable, that is visible in the top right hand corner of this website. (http://www.ftdichip.com/Products/Cables/USBTTLSerial.htm) I would like to know is this sufficient enough for me to upload programs on to the arduino pro mini and have it displayed on to a 16 by 2 LCD, that I am using as an end device to display a message.

    Just thought I’d add that so far I have been able to connect the arduino pro mini to the LCD and have it light up but sadly on the screen there is a slight fuzz of pixels on both rows of the LCD. This has been after trying to upload the basic ‘Hello World’ program that is found on the arduino home page (http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/LiquidCrystal)

    Thank you and look forward to the reply.

  2. Hi, i’m from brasil, and i don’t wanna use google translate for write this… so forgive my english.

    I bought a pro mini, and in the kit had a CP2102, that don’t kwon the name but it used to upload programs.
    I talked with a friend that had a similar and he teach me how conect and how i can upload but it doesn’t worked.
    That’s what shows on arduido ide:

    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding
    avrdude: stk500_getsync() attempt 8 of 10: not in sync: resp=0x2a

    But everytime is with a diferent numbers(or characters) on the end.
    Can you help me?

    If you have read, thanks for your time.

  3. Is there a difference between the pro minis on the market? I’m looking to purchase one and it seems that there are a lot of 3rd party manufacturers which make them? Are they any different in terms of quality or performance? Here’s the one I want to buy: arduino pro mini.

    Thanks,
    Gary

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