Connecting an Arduino Pro Mini with an FTDI Friend (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing, Science, and Nature.

Wed, 18 Sep 2013

Connecting an Arduino Pro Mini with an FTDI Friend

I found myself wanting to upload a sketch to an Arduino Pro Mini recently, using an FTDI Friend, and found that how to do it was surprisingly undocumented.

[Arduino Pro Mini] [Arduino Pro Mini]

First, the important thing is that the six FTDI pins do match up with the six pins at the edge of the Pro Mini, though obviously you have to figure out which way to rotate the two boards so you won't be 180 degrees off. I wasn't clear on that since the labels on the pins don't seem to match (see below).

Second, if you haven't soldered headers to your Pro Mini, you can stick a female-female header into the FTDI Friend's female header. then insert the other side of the header into the holes in the Pro Mini at an angle -- hold them with some tension so that the header pins are making contact with the copper-plated rims of the Pro Mini holes.

Okay, so the big question is which way to match the pins. It's complicated by the Pro Mini's having both outer holes unlabeled.

Usually when trying to match pins I start by looking for Ground, and make sure the two Grounds match. That doesn't work here -- the FTDI has the Gnd on one of the outer pins, while the Pro Mini has Gnd on the second pin in. The pin parked Gnd on the Pro Mini goes to CTS on the FTDI, while the pin parked Gnd on the FTDI corresponds to a pin on the Pro Mini that's unmarked. If you turned one of them 180 degrees, then you'd have Gnd (Pro Mini) - Rx (FTDI), and Gnd (FTDI) - unmarked (Pro Mini). No help there.

So ignore Ground and use VCC as your guide. It's on the third pin in -- so only in one orientation will VCC on both boards match. That's the orientation you want, and it works.

On some Pro Minis and some FTDI boards, you'll also have a label for "GREEN" or "GRN" on one side, and "BLACK" or "BLK" on the other. Match those if you have them, but you may not find that on all boards, particularly if you ever hook up to clone or third-party boards. So stick to VCC as a guide and you should be okay.

So what are those outer two holes on the Pro Mini? An image search for Arduino Pro Mini Pinout gives some pages showing GRN as TX and BLK as +9V (I assume that would be Vin, but actually those pages seem to be referring to the Arduino Mini, not the Pro Mini). But another shows GRN as RESET and BLK as Gnd. The official Pro Mini schematic shows the outer pins on JP1 as DTR and GND. So that seems most likely.

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[ 15:28 Sep 18, 2013    More hardware | permalink to this entry | comments ]
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