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ProMinis - Problems? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bob   
Having problems with your ProMini and you have gone over everything twice, three, a dozen times?

Well, you may not be the issue.  A customer of mine, Tom Clark of Nevada, had an issue getting a sketch to uploaded that did not make sense as he was doing everything correct, exactly by the book.  We dug into this issue and found some interesting issues that will hopefully help others out.

From the information I can find between the Arduino and Sparkfun websites, Sparkfun designed the ProMini and it went live in August 2008 with the release of V1.0.  An issue arises because in November of 2008, Sparkfun releases V1.1 of the ProMini that changes the FTDI pin order - basically making it the reverse of V1.0 (an FTDI adapter is a USB to Serial adapter that is the item used to program your sketches onto the ProMini).

I personally do not know why Sparkfun made this change, but the V1.1 FTDI pin configuration has been the standard from what I have seen in the Multirotor community since its release.  With their more recent release of V1.2, Sparkfun still keeps the same FTDI connection order, which works very well with their FTDI USB to Serial Adapter.  The change from V1.1 to V1.2 looks like they changed pad sizes for the various header soldering areas and some silkscreen changes.

Being that the ProMini design is released under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License, any party can make and sell them for profit which is great for the community on the price side, but the issue gets a bit convoluted because the official Arduino website has kept V1.0 as their ProMini reference design even though there have been many changes to the official Arduino ProMini page, so they could have updated the ProMini files on multiple occasions.  For some reason the Arduino people have not changed the files/pictures to at least the V1.1 FTDI pin configuration which quite a few people build off of - again, I have no answers to why this was not changed on the Arduino website.  After all, the V1.1 version was released just a few months after the initial release.

If you acquire a ProMini that is based off the V1.0 design, you can still program a sketch to it by flipping a current designed Sparkfun FTDI adapter over (LEDs facing down) and use it on the V1.0 version with no issues.  This situation, in my humble opinion needs more light shed on it as it can really waste a lot of time for a person not knowing about this because the official Arduino website lists V1.0 as the reference design.

Now, to add additional confusion to this it seems by their own acknowledgement that the company OSEPP had accidentally released some of their ProMinis that are not only based off of the V1.0 FTDI pin configuration, but also loaded with the Arduino Uno bootloader instead of the ProMini.  Please see this forum post and also this webpage on the OSEPP website for further clarification.  It appears from the OSEPP website that they sell their ProMinis through a variety of online and retail outlets, so if you are having an issue with an OSEPP ProMini, you may want to check these links out as I have no idea how many were released into the wild with the Uno bootloader.

We got Tom's troubles worked out, and here are the factors that were in his situtaion - 1 - He had OSEPP Pro Mini that is based off the 'Arduino Reference Design', which is no faults of OSEPP's, but why has Arduino not updated their Reference Design to the at least V1.1 for the FTDI connectivity - not a real problem as you can just flip the FTDI over, but still an issue nonetheless, 2 - the Uno bootloader, this was found on the OSEPP website - things happen so it is what it is and 3 - it appears the bootloader has been corrupted on top of everything as communication stopped w/ the unit completely.  OSEPP did request Tom return the unit to them and they would make it right.

As Tom had spent quite some time with this issue, I sent him a ProMini I build based off of the V1.2 Sparkfun files that I test exhaustively and knew it worked.  Tom received it and his issues are solved, and when he gets the other unit back from OSEPP, he will have a spare :).

I hope this has shed some light on a rather frustrating issue with people wasting quite some time chasing gremlins that could have easily been avoided.

For what it is worth, this is in no way of an attack against OSEPP - I have nothing against them and wish them the best.  I felt this issue needed to be brought to the surface for the sanity of many an Arduino enthusiast.

Have a good day/night,
Any ProMini that is built by BobsQuads, or is a modified version of the ProMini will be made from the most up-to-date files from the Sparkfun based ProMini files.

I have made a post on the Arduino forums about this issue and if you feel the need, maybe you would like to too - this whole situation should be a bit more streamlined so that it is not wasting more hours than it already has.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 July 2012 20:21