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The Proto Shield from LadyAda makes creating project for the Arduino a breeze. The Arduino Diecimila comes a lot of female headers for connecting simple sensors, but that’s about it. If you really want to expand your capabilities, the Proto Shield is the answer.

Here are the specs from the LadyAda website:

  • Compatible with NG or Diecimila
  • Reset button up top
  • ICSP header
  • Lots of GND and +5V rails
  • DIP prototyping area makes it easy to add more chips
  • SOIC prototyping area above USB jack for up to 14-pin SOIC chip, narrow medium or wide package.
  • Use ‘mini’ or ‘medium’ breadboard
  • Two 3mm LED’s with matching resistors
  • Extra 6mm button

Note: My configuration
I chose to make the shield with a 1/4 size breadboard. If you want to use it with a 1/2 size breadboard, you need to omit the extra female headers and the (2) ceramic capacitors (steps 4 & 5), since this will obstruct the location of a larger board. You can see several variations of the final shield on the LadyAda website.

Makershedsmall
You can purchase the ProtoShield in the MakerSHED. If you want to add a 1/4 size solderless breadboard, you can pick one up there too!

What You Get & What You Need

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All the parts to build the shield are in the kit. However, the kit does not come with the mini breadboard that I will be using. You can build the shield several different ways depending on your needs. I like the mini breadboard option, so I picked one up in the Maker SHED. You can omit the breadboard and solder directly on the board, or you can use a 1/2 size breadboard.

Tools you need:

  • Soldering Iron
  • Solder
  • Solder Wick or de-soldering tool (optional)
  • Wire cutters
  • Fume Extractor – Make you own

Step 1: Solder the (2) buttons and ICSP header

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Snap in the (2) buttons and ICSP 6-pin header and solder them in place.

Step 2: Add the (2) LED’s and resistors

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The shield has (2) LED’s that you can use for your projects. Make sure you insert them with the correct polarity. The longer lead is the “+” one! The resistors can be inserted either way.

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You have to solder the resistors in a slightly “standing” position. This allows for more room in the center of the shield for the breadboard.

Step 3: Adding the female headers

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Next solder in the (4) female headers to the shield. You may have to hold them in while soldering. Just tack in one pin, let it cool, then let go and solder the rest of the pins.

Step 4: Adding the male header pins

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Cut and place the (2) 6-pin and (2) 8-pin male headers into the female sockets of the Arduino. Next, place the Proto Shield onto the Arduino, lining up all the pins. Finally, solder all the pins to the Proto Shield. This way all the pins will line up exactly with your board, making it easy to plug it in.

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If you have an NG Arduino, you may want to solder in the 3-pin female header pin in the ICSP area of your board. Place the female socket on your board and solder it to the Proto Shield, similar to the male header pins.

Step 5: Adding the capacitors

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The (2) ceramic capacitors don’t have polarity so don’t worry about orientation. Just add them to the board and solder.

Note: If you plan on using a 1/2 size bread board, omit this step.

Step 6: Adding more female headers

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There are (3) more female headers to add to the board. (1) for extra ground pins, (1) for more 5V connections, and the last one is floating. This allows it to be what ever you want!

Step 7: Adding the mini breadboard

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All you have to do is peel off the tape on your 1/4 size breadboard and stick it onto the board. That’s it, you’re all done! Prototyping on your Arduino has never been so easy.

Makershedsmall
You can purchase the ProtoShield in the MakerSHED.

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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