setup: other options for attaching the LilyPad Arduino to your computer

You need to attach your LilyPad Arduino to your computer so that you can talk to the LilyPad: tell it what you want it to do (program it), read sensor data from it, send messages to it, etc. The attachment process requires a few extra parts, but you only need to go through this process once. You can use the same setup for all your future LilyPad designs. There are a few different ways to make the computer to LilyPad connection. I'll describe three here and provide links to a couple other options. Click on a link to jump to instructions:

attachment via LilyPad USB Link (easiest option)
attachment via a standard Arduino board
attachment via the Arduino mini USB adapter (requires soldering)
other options


attachment via the LilyPad USB Link

To make the connection without having to do any soldering, simply purchase the LilyPad USB Link. One end of the LilyPad USB Link plugs into your LilyPad and the other plugs into your computer.



Note if you have an earlier version of the LilyPad arduino (one without the male plug at the top of the board), solder a right angle male header to the -,tx,rx,5v holes at the top of the board. Then you will be able to plug the board directly into the LilyPad USB Link.

attachment via a standard Arduino board

You can also use a regular Arduino to relay messages between the LilyPad and the computer. If you already own a regular Arduino, this is a relatively easy and cheap way to do things.

1. Get your supplies



  • Arduino Diecimila or NG ($35)
  •     available from SparkFun
  • USB cable ($4)
  •     available from SparkFun
  • Jumper wires ($6.50)
  •     available from your local RadioShack
  • Alligator clip test leads ($7)
  •     available from RadioShack
  • Needle nosed pliers ($3)
  •     available from SparkFun

    TOTAL COST ~$55


2. Remove the AVR chip from the regular Arduino board.

Gently slide one side of the pliers underneath the AVR chip on the Arduino board and pry it out of its socket. Store the AVR chip in a safe place. To restore your Arduino, just pop the AVR chip back into its socket.



3. Plug jumper wires into the regular Arduino board.

Open your jumper wire box and plug jumper wires into the TX, RX, 5V and GND sockets. In electronics, red is associated with the positive terminal of a battery or power supply, so we'll use a red wire for the 5V (5 volt) socket. Tradition also dictates using black for the negative terminal of a battery or power supply, also known as "ground". There are no black wires in my jumper wire kit, so I'm going to use grey instead; plug a grey wire into the GND socket. I like to use yellow wires for RX and green wires for TX, so plug these wires into the corresponding sockets.





3. Clip test leads onto the jumper wires

Open up your test lead package and clip a red test lead to the red wire you just inserted, a black test lead to the grey wire and so on.





4. Tie your test leads together so they're out of the way.

I like to tie the test lead wires together in a knot to keep them out of the way and keep things neat as I'm working.



5. Attach your LilyPad

Now, clip the unattached end of the the red test lead to the +5V tab (this also might be labeled just +) on your LilyPad, the black test lead to -, the yellow lead to 0/rx and the green lead to 1/tx.







You may have noticed that the aligator clips have a tendency to slide around on the LilyPad. To fix this problem, your next step is to make a no-slip coaster for your LilyPad.


attachment via an Arduino mini USB adapter

Read this first. There is a better way to do this connection than the tutorial below describes. Ignore the tutorial below and do this instead: solder a right angle male header to the Arduino mini USB adapter and then use female-female jumper cables to connect +,-,tx, and rx on the two boards. On the version 3 Arduino mini USB adapter you want to connect tx to tx and rx to rx. (On the version 2 Arduino mini USB adapter you want to connect tx to rx and rx to tx).



Here's the old tutorial:

1. Get your supplies


  • USB to Serial board
  •     the Arduino Serial USB board is available from SparkFun ($21)
  • USB cable ($4)
  •     available from SparkFun
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Alligator clip test leads ($7)
  •     available from RadioShack
  • Hot glue gun ($3)
  •     available from hotstik.com or your local craft/art store

    TOTAL COST ~$35
    (assuming you've already got soldering equipment)

2. Remove the foam from the Arduino mini USB adapter.

This is an extremely important step!! The foam is conductive and will short out and fry your adapter if you don't remove it.



3. Cut your alligator clips in half.

Get out one red, black, green, and yellow clip from your set and cut each one in half.


4. Strip the alligator clip wires

Take one of the halves of each color of alligator clip and strip 1/4 to 1/2 inch of insultation off their wire ends. Then twist each end a little so that the stranded wire holds together nicely.






5. Put your stripped wires into the USB board.

I use a green wire for TX, yellow for RX, red for + (5v, VCC), and black for - (Gnd). Put the wires into the 4 holes at the front of your mini USB as shown below. If you're using an Arduino mini USB board, the colors -- from left to right looking at the front of the board -- should be green, yellow, red, black.

Important note: not all USB to serial devices are labeled the same way as the Arduino version 3.0 mini USB adapter in the pictures here. Other boards may swap the TX and RX labels. In fact, in the Arduino version 2.0 mini USB adapter the labels are swapped! I know, this is all frustrating!! But, don't worry! Attaching TX and RX up backwards to your LilyPad won't harm it. If, when it comes time to program the LilyPad, you're not getting any response from the board, try swapping the TX/RX alligator clip attachments on your LilyPad before you try other things. More on this when we get there. For now, just keep building and if you're using the Arduino version 3.0 mini USB adapter, you're golden with these instructions.





6. Solder on your wires

Turn the board over, bend your wires over so that they'll stay in place, and solder each contact.



Here's what the back of my mini USB connector looked like when I was done:


7. Put hot glue over the solder joints on your USB adapter

Coat the area around where your wires attach to the USB board with a good amount of hot glue. The object here is to prevent the exposed portion of wire at the edge of the board from bending. This will break the wire. So, you want your glue to come down a 1/4 of an inch or so over the insulated part of the wire.




8. Attach your LilyPad

Now, clip the unattached end of the the red alligator clip to the +5V tab (this also might be labeled just +) on your LilyPad, the black test lead to -, the yellow lead to 0/rx and the green lead to 1/tx.





You may have noticed that the aligator clips have a tendency to slide around on the LilyPad. To fix this problem, your next step is to make a no-slip coaster for your LilyPad.


other options

Check out wufden's LilyPad specific kit and instructions. Great if you already own a Keyspan USB->serial adapter.

more links coming...