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In this build I am going to be making the XPort shield that is available from LadyAda’s web site. The shield will allow you to connect your Arduino to the Internet and check your email, interact with Twitter, send SMS messages, and a whole lot more.

I was inspired from the book “Making Things Talk” by Tom Igoe. It is a great read for anyone interested in micro-controllers, specifically the Arduino. Tom’s book, and the Arduino, can be purchased in the Maker Shed.

Don’t forget to check out the LadyAda website for the complete build instructions, including programming examples and a forum.

What you need:

xport needed Arduino XPort shield build   Part 1

This is a really easy soldering project. All you need are the basics:

  • Soldering Iron
  • Flux core Solder
  • 3rd hand tool or circuit board holder
  • Diagonal pliers
  • De-soldering tool (Hopefully you don’t need this!)
  • XPort Shield Kit – Available from the LadyAda website
  • Arduino Diecimila PLUS USB Board – Available at the Maker Shed
  • XPort – Available from GridConnect

Step 1: Solder The Components

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Wondering what that red thing is? It’s my Candy Tin Fume Extractor that I made a while back for the MAKE blog. I am happy to report it still works great!

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I combined a lot of the steps outlined in the Ladyada tutorial since it is such an easy build. Basically I added as many components as I could fit without the leads touching. Then I soldered them in, clip the leads, and added a few more components. In the above picture I am almost done with the 3.3 voltage regulator.

Step 2: A little more soldering

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I added the electrolytic capacitors during the next wave of soldering, along with the reset button and programming headers. These all soldered up really fast.

Step 3: Adding the male headers

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To attach the XPort shield to the Arduino, you need to solder in 2 rows of male headers. To do this, place the male header pins into the Arduino and solder the first and last pin of each header to the XPort shield. This will hold them in place, and create perfect alignment for the rest of the soldering. Next, remove the shield from the Arduino and finish soldering all the male headers.

Step 4: Add the female headers

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I decided to add female headers to all the remaining solder points. This will allow for faster prototyping for my next project. I really don’t want to hard wire anything yet, and the female headers will allow me to change the wiring on the fly. It can be a bit tricky to hold the headers in place, but once you tack one pin, they are easy to solder.

Step 5: Program and use it

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You have several choices when it comes to programming your new XPort shield. I chose to use DHCP and Telnet to program the board. You can follow all the directions from the LadyAda website. They cover all the different programming methods, including the “wire hack” version.

After I successfully used Telnet to change the settings, I uploaded the XPort library and the sketch to the Arduino. I was greeted by a pleasant “Goodnight Moon”, just what I wanted to see.

At this point, it’s a good idea to read Making Things Talk. They cover much more about using the XPort than I could ever in this post. I know I am going to read it a few more times before I tackle the next phase of this project.

In Part 2 of this build I will be using my new XPort Shield to interact with a website. The Arduino will use the data collected to drive some servos and a few other fun things. Keep an eye out for part 2 on the MAKE blog.

Marc de Vinck

I’m currently working full time as the Dexter F. Baker Professor of Practice in Creativity in the Masters of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship Program at Lehigh University. I’m also an avid product designer, kit maker, author, father, tinkerer, and member of the MAKE Technical Advisory board.


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