About the Versalino Inventors Kit Nerdly Version

Versalino Uno Fully Loaded

The perfect starter kit for you, or a friend!

The Versalino Inventors Kit is the first Versalino kit that is truly designed for anyone who is interested in learning about electronics, and knows what a computer is.

We have received a ton of feedback over the last couple years, and we realized that we could make the whole process a ton easier if we re-invented the way we approached the problem. As a result we designed the very website you are browsing (versalino.com).

There has never been an easier way to get started in electronics, and we are super excited to share it with you! Now for the first time we can say with full confidence that even if you have never touched a microcontroller, or other electronic device before you will be able to get the Versalino Inventors kit running and have your first project completed in a matter of hours (or less if your a champ :D).

Kit Contents:

Versalino Uno Fully Loaded
Versalino FTDI
3 Foot Black USB Mini B cable for FTDI
Black Solderless Breadboard
10 x high quality Male to Male Dupont cables
3 x 1 Ampere NPN Transistors
3 x Super bright 5 mm LEDs (color may vary)
3 x Super bright 5 mm RGB LEDs
12 x 100 Ohm Resistors (for LEDs)
3 x 510 Ohm Resistors (for Transistors)
3 x 4.5 by 4.5 mm push buttons
Pin-out and Quick Reference Guide

Versalino Inventors Kit Nerdly Versaion Details

This is a top view of the Versalino Uno PCB design.

This is a top view of the Versalino Uno PCB design.

At its core the Versalino Inventors Kit Nerdly Version has a Versalino Uno. The Versalino Uno is our premiere Prototype to Production platform, and is a completely redesigned platform that is compatible with the Arduino IDE (see next section for more details), and based on the same chipset as the Arduino Uno (the bootloaded Atmega328P-PU).

Using the Arduino bootloader and programming methodology it is possible to load any sketch that works on the Arduino Uno onto the Versalino Uno or Versalino Nano. What that means is that on top of projects specifically designed for the Versalino, you now have access to hundreds of thousands of projects that folks have shared for the Arduino Uno! You get all of the projects while still benefiting from the reduced size, cost, and improved pinout of the Versalino, so what’s to lose?

This pinout should help you better understand how the Versalino Uno relates back to the Arduino Uno.

Listed above are the Arduino equivalent pins to each of the Buses in case you wanted to forego the use of the Versalino library.

The Versalino BUS structure also allows the shape and size of your Versalino board to change without losing the compatibility with your Versalino loadboards. That is why every board that has been designed for the Versalino Nano is 100% compatible with the Versalino Uno (even though the Versalino Uno is twice it’s size).

Finally with the Versalino Uno you get an extra COM port! The COM port on the Versalino is designed to provide you with plug and play Bluetooth compatibility with the Virtuabotix BT2S Slave and Virtuabotix BT2S Master, this is an extremely useful, and cost effective way to convert your project from a wired to a wireless solution. This additional port structure allows for the design of many serial communication devices that can be added to your system without interfering with other boards.

With the Versalino Inventors Kit you have the distinct advantage of knowing you have everything you need to get started with your next project, so let’s keep going and get your first project rolling!

Guides & Documentation
Compatible Devices
Libraries & Software
Versalino Videos
Visit the Versalino Nano Product Page
Learn more about the Versalino
Run a Versalino loadboard with a regular Arduino
Program the Versalino with a regular Arduino Uno
Versalino Wiki
Versalino Section of the Virtuabotix.com Q&A
All Arduino Compatible Sensors
Virtuabotix BT2S Slave
Virtuabotix BT2S Master
Versalino MotorMaster
Versalino Solderful Breadboard
Versalino Sense & Move
Many many other electronics devices
Arduino IDE
Versalino Library
MotorMaster Library
Virtuabotix DHT11 Library
Virtuabotix DHT22 Library
Virtuabotix Accelerometer Library
Virtuabotix Ultrasonic Library

Getting started guide

In the steps below you will be mounting the Versalino Uno to your Versalino Inventors Kit board.

Gather pieces Mounting Points Risers & Nuts  

What pieces do I need to put the Versalino Inventors Kit together?

This is a picture of the Versalino FTDI connected correctly to the Versalino Uno.

Everything you need for this step can be found in the bag labeled Step 1.

You will need the following to proceed: The laser cut Versalino Inventors boards The Versalino Uno (Found in packet labeled Step 1) 3 x sets of Nuts, Bolts, and Risers (Found in packet labeled Step 1) 1 x small Phillips Screwdriver (or nimble fingers)

You will be using 3 Bolts, Nuts and Risers on this part of the guide, keep the other 4 sets somewhere safe for later projects. They are included for the optional mounting of additional Versalino Loadboards like the Versalino MotorMaster or Versalino Sense & Move.

Select the correct mounting points

This is a top view photo of the Versalino Inventors board V 1.0.3 with the holes for the Versalino Uno marked in red.

This is a top view photo of the Versalino Inventors board V 1.0.3 with the holes for the Versalino Uno marked in red.

Looking at the Versalino Inventors board you have probably noticed that it has two extra mounting holes than the Versalino Uno, this is because the Versalino Inventors board was designed to work with bot the Versalino Uno and the Versalino Nano. Because of this you will want to make sure that you use the mounting holes for the Versalino Uno (which are the holes to the far left and right).

In the image above the red dots show the wholes you should use for the Versalino Uno, you should also make sure that you mount the board with the power connector facing down toward the cable slot and the 9V battery mounts on the bottom left of the board.

NOTE: If you happen to be using the Versalino Nano with the Versalino Inventors Kit then you will want to select the two mounting holes that are not highlighted in red. The slot style mounting holes on the sides should allow you to still use Versalino Loadboards despite the Versalino Nano's smaller size.

Now to put it all together

Put the mounting screws in place before moving forward.

Put the mounting screws in place before moving forward.

The risers are the small black oval shaped pieces of acryclic, they are designed to reduce strain on the board, and allow the Versalino to be mounted evenly. If you choose not to use them the board may lay at a slight angle due to differences in pin lengths through the bottom.

You will want to put the bolts into the Versalino Uno first, once you have done so you will want to flip the Versalino Uno onto its side and put the risers onto the bolts (the risers go on the underside).

NOTE: We found it easiest to put the risers on sideways, but some folks prefer to put the first set onto the board and slide the other risers underneath before putting the bolts in. As long as there are risers and bolts in the right holes then you can consider any method that will achieve it, and as always don't hesitate to let us know if you find an awesomer way to go about any steps you find.

Holding the Versalino Uno sideways to get the risers on seems to work the best.

Holding the Versalino Uno sideways to get the risers on seems to work the best.

Now push the bolts through the laser cut Inventors Kit board in the places indicated in the previous step. Once in place you should be able to hand tighten the Nuts onto the ends of the bolts on the bottom side of the Versalino Inventors Kit board.

Now comes the screwdriver

This is how far your Versalino Uno board will be elevated off of the Versalino Inventors Board with the risers in place.

This is how far your Versalino Uno board will be elevated off of the Versalino Inventors Board with the risers in place.

Once you have all three nuts hand tightened on the bolts you can further tighten them with your Phillips screwdriver. Optionally you can also add Lock Tight or any other bonding agent to keep the bolts from coming loose, but I would only recommend that if you know you won't be doing any projects that would require you to pull the Inventors board off for a bit.

Adding more loadboards

We discussed it briefly in an earlier step, but I just wanted to make sure you were aware that the extra hardware and the long slot cuts are mean't for the mounting of other Versalino Loadboards like the Versalino MotorMaster or Versalino Sense & Move, and that they are connected in much the same way as you just connected the Versalino Uno itself.

Congratulations!

Now that you have everything mounted you are ready to go ahead and get all the software and drivers installed in the next section of this guide. Just scroll down to keep going.

Getting started guide:

You will need the following things to follow this guide all the way through:

Your glorious Versalino Intentors Kit of course (Nerdly Version) 😉

Install Arduino IDE Install FTDI Drivers Install Library(s)  

What is an IDE?

If you are new to programming you may be wondering what an IDE is. An IDE is an Integrated Development Environment, which aside from being a mouthful, is an extremely useful tool that is used to allow an individual to use high level code like C++ to develop programs more quickly.

In the case of the Arduino IDE you are provided with a simplified C++ based approach to developing code that can be quickly developed, and uploaded to your Versalino projects. As you learn how to use this system you can even go as far as writing your own libraries, and taking advantage of direct machine coding techniques, and native C++ structures and classes.

Install the Arduino IDE on your computer

The first step before you can do anything with the Versalino, or any other Arduino compatible system is to install the Arduino IDE.

Download and Install the Arduino IDE with the link below

Thle Arduino IDE can be found for Windows, Mac OS or Linux at the following link -->Click to go to download page http://arduino.cc/en/main/software <--.

Follow the instructions for your specific operating system as provided by Arduino in the link above.

Note: Though there is a windows installer available now, most windows users have reported that they had a better experience downloading and extracting the zip archive version. This is as of version 1.0.5 and the windows installer may become more stable over time.

What is an FTDI?

FTDI itself is actually stands for Future Technology Devices International, a company whose initials (FTDI) have become synonomous with USB to Serial converters. The Versalino FTDI is named so because of the fact that it uses an FTDI chip as it's main processor.

The reason you need a USB to Serial converter (like the Versalino FTDI) is to load programs onto, and communicate with your Versalino, and other Serial UART enabled devices. The key advantages of the Versalino FTDI over alternative versions is the fact that it has a built in Virtuabotix BT2S Com port for instant Bluetooth to Bluetooth connectivity between your Versalino and PC, and the fact that it has easily selectable voltage levels.

Install the FTDI (USB to Serial) Drivers on your PC

Though we recommend and assume you are using the Versalino FTDI, the following devices can also be used to program the Versalino:
The Arduino USB Serial Light
Sparkfun or Adafruit versions of the FTDI programmer
And for the adventurous the Atmel AVRISP programmer

Note: The Arduino USB Serial Light uses different drivers than those we will be discussing in this section, those drivers can be found in the driver folder of the Arduino IDE directory that you installed in the last step.

Installing FTDI drivers on Windows 7 or later

If you are using Windows 7 or later, chances are that all you have to do is plug in the Versalino FTDI and your system will identify and install the drivers for you automatically, but if you are on Windows XP or earlier, or your system did not auto-detect the device drivers then you will want to install the drivers manually below.

Installing FTDI drivers on older systems, and Mac OS/Linux

The FTDI Drivers can be found and installed from the following location -->Click to go to download page http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/VCP.htm and select drivers from the appropriate operating system to install <--.

Check if your drivers installed properly

Now that you have installed your drivers you can plug the Versalino FTDI into the computer using the USB Mini B cable (make sure you have the 5V setting selected with the switch on the back).

If everything is installed correctly you should now have a new COM port available on your computer.

What is a Library?

A library (in the Arduino IDE) is a specially structured piece of code that is intended to add or improve the existing functionality of your C++ environment. The libraries often handle complex problems, and device communication so that you do not have to handle low level, complex, or repetitive tasks directly in your code.

Libraries can do anything that you can do in your sketches, or in C++ in general (as long as there is room on your device), but are generally used to store classes and functions to be used in your projects.

Why should I install the Versalino library?

First of all, you do not have to install the Versalino library for you to be able to use the Versalino. For all intents and purposes you can program the Versalino as if it were an Arduino Uno, but you would lose the ease of use of the pin-out, and may have to dedicate more time to selecting pin numbers, especially if you would like to take advantage of the Versalino's unique bus structure. Because of this we think it is much easier to use the Versalino library to take advantage of the simplified bus structure, and the direct use of standard Versalino pin names in your code.

Download and extract the library

-->Click to go to the Versalino product page and download the latest Versalino library https://www.virtuabotix.com/productpage/0609224531828/ <--.

Extract the zip folders contents and makes sure that you have just the library name as your folder. In example if your extracted contents folder was named VersalinoV1S2B then you will want to remove the V1S2B from the folder name, and then check inside that folder. If that folder contained a folder named versalino then you would use the subfolder as your library folder.

If you don't use the folder that actually contains the .h and .cpp files, or you use a folder that is not named exactly the same as the main .h/.cpp file in that directory then the library will not work after it has been installed (because the IDE will not be able to find the appropriate files for installation.

Installing libraries on Windows

If you are using the Arduino IDE on windows you simply need to navigate to the folder where the Arduino.exe is and drop the Versalino libraries folder into the "Libraries" folder. So drop the library folder into the following directory on windows: arduino-1.x.x-windows (where the .x.x is the IDE version you installed) -> arduino-1.x.x -> libraries

Installing libraries on Mac OS/Linux

Installing a library in Mac OS or Linux can be a little more tricky, especially if this is the first time you are using the Arduino IDE. Unlike on Windows, your IDE does not have an accessible folder structure, so you will have to run the IDE before you can proceed.

Once you have opened the Arduino IDE it will create a Sketchbook folder on your profile, you can easily find the location of this folder by using the top menu File -> Preferences and looking at the address in the sketchbook location at the top of the Preferences window.

Once you have navigated to your Sketchbook directory you will have to create a subdirectory named "libraries" if one hasn't already been created for you. Now you can simply drop the Versalino (or other) library folder into that directory.

Check if your library is installed properly

Regardless of the operating system you used once the library folder has been placed in the "libraries" directory you will have to ensure that the Arduino IDE has been closed, and then re-open it before the library can be used.

If you have installed the library properly you should now see a Versalino subsection in the File -> Examples submenu. If your install did not work, then you likely need to check the folder name, and make sure that you did not copy extra extracted folders into the libraries directory. Adjust and retry until you see the Versalino subcategory on the Examples menu.

Congratulations!

With all the boring stuff out of the way, it is finally time to get things rolling. Keep following the steps below to start doing something with your Versalino.

Thanks again for choosing the Versalino, and best of luck with your nerdly adventures!

Now for your very first project on the Versalino Inventors Kit!

Make sure you have your Versalino Uno, and Versalino FTDI ready before proceeding.


Connect FTDI Upload Sketch Connect LED & Test

Connect the Versalino FTDI

This is a picture of the Versalino FTDI connected correctly to the Versalino Uno.

This is a picture of the Versalino FTDI connected correctly to the Versalino Uno.

Now that you have installed the Arduino IDE and Versalino FTDI drivers you are finally ready to connect it all together and get started with your first project

First connnect the Versalino FTDI to your computer with your USB Mini B cable and make sure that a new COM port is available on your computer like you did in earlier setup steps.

Once you are satisfied with the setup you can plug it into the Versalino Uno/Versalino Nano. Make sure that the pins of the Versalino FTDI match up with the pins on the Versalino Uno/Nano PGM port (I.E. match G pin to G pin, V pin to V pin and so forth). If you have it lined up correctly the voltage selector will be facing toward the outside of the Versalino board.

WARNING: DO NOT CONNECT THE VERSALINO FTDI TO THE VERSALINO BACKWARDS, OR SADNESS AND MAGIC BLUE SMOKE MAY RESULT. IF YOU CONNECTED IT THE WRONG WAY QUICKLY DISCONNECT THE USB AND TRY AGAIN THE CORRECT WAY.

Open the Arduino IDE

When you open the Arduino IDE it should conveniently create an empty sketch for you. A sketch is just the name Arduino gave to their .ino files which are the files you save your simplified C++ code for the Arduino and Versalino platforms with.
This is what the Versalino Blink sketch looks like in the Arduino IDE once you have it copied over.

Your code should look something like this once you have it copied properly into the Arduino IDE. Also note the menu at the top of the window which you will be using to configure and upload in the next part of this step.



Copy the following lines of code into the empty sketch:

#include <Versalino.h> //this loads the Versalino library

// we will be connecting the LED to BUSA pin D1
// so we declare it as a variable to use later
// just in case we decide to change the pin or BUS
int led = BUSA.D1;


// the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
void setup() {
// initialize the digital pin as an output.
pinMode(led, OUTPUT);
}

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop() {
digitalWrite(led, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(1000); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(1000); // wait for a second
}



Check compiler settings

If you are programming the Versalino Uno ensure that
"Arduino Uno" is selected from the "Tools -> Boards" menu.

If you are programming the Versalino Nano ensure that
"Arduino Nano W/ ATmega328" is selected from the "Tools -> Boards" menu.

Also check to make sure that the COM port of your Versalino FTDI
is selected from the "Tools -> Serial Port" menu.

Upload the Arduino Sketch to your Versalino

Now you should be ready to program your Versalino with your newly created sketch.

Select "File -> Upload" and wait while your sketch is compiled, and uploaded to the Versalino. If you have set up everything correctly up to this point you should see a short series of blink red and green lights on the Versalino FTDI indicating that the program is being loading through the transmit and receive lines of the serial port.

Once you see "Successfully Uploaded" at the bottom of the screen you are good to move onto the next step.

Before we connect the LED to the Versalino

NOTE: First disconnect the USB from the Versalino FTDI before plugging anything into the Versalino BUS.

This is a picture of an LED from Virtuabotix.com to illustrate how to identify Ground and Vdd pins of an LED.

The illustration above shows how to identify which pin is ground and which goes to Vdd or IO pins.

If you are not familiar with the LED (Light Emitting Diode), then let me explain a little bit about it's operation and wiring. The first thing you should know is that the LED is in fact a Diode which means among other things that it only allows the flow of electrons in one direction. This means that to get the LED to light up we will have to plug it in with the correct polarity.

An easy way to determine which side of the LED is supposed to connect to Ground, and which is supposed to connect to Vdd or your IO pin you can actually look at the length of the LED leads (which means the pins that come off of the LED). The shorter of the two pins is always ground, and the longer goes to the IO pin or VDD.

If your leads have been clipped you may have to check with your manufacturer on what the notch indicator on the LED body means, some LEDs have reverse notch indicators, you shouldn't assume that your LED is the same as another. If you can see inside your LED however the larger of the two elements is always ground so you may be able to tell them apart that way. (Alternatively you can try connecting the LED in both directions and pick the one that works 😀 ).

Note: If you are using a high powered LED, or more than one LED you should put a resistor in series to prevent too much current from being drawn from your Versalino, but with a single LED that draws 20 mA or less you can safely connect it directly to your IO pin (IO pin means input output pin).

Connect the LED

This is how it should look once you have connected the LED to the Versalino Uno/Nano

This is the way your setup should look once you have everything connected correctly.

Now that you know which pin is Ground and which pin goes to the IO pin you should be able to plug the short lead into GND on BUSA and the long lead of the LED into D1 of BUSA on the Versalino.

Watch in awe as your first project comes to life

Now that everything is plugged in you can reconnect the USB cable, and watch as your LED begins to blink just as you told it to. Feel free to bask in the mysterious glow as long as you see fit, and congratulations on finishing your first project!

Congratulations, now you know how to load a sketch onto the Versalino Uno. You will be amazed by the world of devices and projects that you have just opened up. We can’t wait to see what you can achieve with the Versalino in your toolbox!

Below are just a few of the projects that other nerdly heroes like yourself have already done with the Versalino, be sure to share your projects with us if you want them added to the list.

More Awesome projects for the Versalino Inventors Kit
See the Versalino Uno Quickstart guide for Versalino Uno Projects