The HMC6352 is an I2C digital compass without tilt compensation. This makes it cheap - you can buy a breakout board from SparkFun for $35. The problem is that when you tilt the sensor the results a pretty unpredictable. A comparable compass breakout board with tilt compensation (like the HMC6343) costs $150.

The HMC6352 is easy to use. Instead or reading from or writing to some addresses or registers it uses 1 character commands. So, for example 'A' is used to read to current heading in 10th's of a degree (a heading of 1345 would be 134.5 degrees). The slave address is 0x42/0x43, which means the Arduino wire address is 0x21. For more information check out the HMC6352 Datasheet .

I could not get the Bus Pirate to work, maybe the timing is a little off. The Arduino works just fine.

All the code be downloaded from here.

This code does not do anything fancy, it just reads the heading over and over. For a real application it would be better to wake up the module, read the value, and put it back in sleep mode.

#include <Wire.h>

// Shift the device's documented slave address (0x42) 1 bit right
// This compensates for how the TWI library only wants the
// 7 most significant bits (with the high bit padded with 0)
// This results in 0x21 as the address to pass to TWI
const int HMC6352Address = 0x42 >> 1;

int ledPin = 13;
boolean ledState = false;

byte headingData[2];
int i, headingValue;

void setup()
  I2C_powerPins(3, 2);
  delay(100);  // wait for things to stabilize

  pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);      // Set the LED pin as output

void loop()
  // Flash the LED on pin 13 just to show that something is happening
  // Also serves as an indication that we're not "stuck" waiting for TWI data
  ledState = !ledState;
  digitalWrite(ledPin, ledState ? HIGH : LOW);

  // Send a "A" command to the HMC6352
  // This requests the current heading data
  Wire.send("A");              // The "Get Data" command

  // The HMC6352 needs at least a 70us (microsecond) delay after this command.  Using 10ms just makes it safe

  // Read the 2 heading bytes, MSB first
  // The resulting 16bit word is the compass heading in 10th's of a degree
  // For example: a heading of 1345 would be 134.5 degrees
  Wire.requestFrom(HMC6352Address, 2);        // Request the 2 byte heading (MSB comes first)
  i = 0;
  while(Wire.available() && i < 2) {  
    headingData[i++] = Wire.receive();
  headingValue = (int)headingData[0] << 8 | headingData[1];  // Put the MSB and LSB together

  Serial.print("Current heading: ");
  Serial.print(headingValue / 10);     // The whole number part of the heading
  Serial.print(headingValue % 10);     // The fractional part of the heading
  Serial.println(" degrees");


void I2C_powerPins(byte pwrpin, byte gndpin)
  DDRC |= _BV(pwrpin) | _BV(gndpin);
  PORTC &=~ _BV(gndpin);
  PORTC |=  _BV(pwrpin);

I used the nice wire layout of the SparkFun breakout board to power the module with the analog pins 2 and 3. If you don't do this, you should remove the two lines from the code:

  I2C_powerPins(3, 2);
  delay(100);  // wait for things to stabilize