Arduino Protoshield Assembly

Posted in (News, Tutorials) by Aaron on 22-11-2010

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Terminal Blocks PlacedYour Arduino is hungry for some expansion! Time to break out that kit and put the thing together!

This tutorial covers the assembly of the ConductiveResistance Protoshield.

Check to make sure that you have all the components. You should have the following:

  • 1 x Conductive Resistance Protoshield PCB
  • 2 x 8-pin Long-tail female headers
  • 2 x 6-pin Long-tail female headers
  • 8 x 3-position terminal blocks
  • 3 x 2-position terminal blocks
  • 1 x 3-pin male-header
  • 1 x Jumper

After you’ve made certain that you have all of the components, check to see that you have the following:

  • A Soldering Iron
  • A pair of pliers (Needle Nose work best)
  • An Arduino or Arduino-Compatible board (any model will suffice)

Also, if you have them, a “Third-hand”, or “Helping Hand” tool is useful. All right, enough of that. Let’s get to constructing this thing.


Conductive Resistance has purchases it’s PCBs tab-routed. This means that we receive a panel and have to break out the boards individually. As a result, the PCB you receive may have the remnants of those tab connections. You can identify them by comparing your board to the picture below. They can be sharp, so please be careful. You can sand them off, but please be aware that fiberglass dust is toxic. If you choose to sand them down, do so in a ventilated area, with proper eye protection and a dust mask.

This is what a tab removed board looks like:

Tab Break Points


Assembling the Terminal Blocks.

The Protoshield features two rows of 14 pins. These 14 pins on either side make up the majority of the pins available via the screw terminals. The blocks come in 2 and 3 position lengths. For each row, we’re going to put together four of the 3-position blocks and add one of the 2-position blocks.

This Start off by picking up two of the 3-position blocks. They assemble by sliding one block’s edge over another, with the block on the right going down over the top.

Two Blocks - Half Assembled

Slide the two pieces together.

Two Blocks Assembled

Repeat this, with an additional two 3-position blocks. You now should have (essentially) a 12-position block.

4 Assembled Blocks

Now we need to add on one of our 2-position blocks to get a full 14-position. Repeat the process for the other side. When you’ve finished, you should have two 14-position rows, and one left over 2-position block.

4-blocks plus 1 short block

Set aside your terminal blocks. We’ll put those on toward the end. grab your PCB and your long-tail female headers.

PCB and Headers

Getting these place right can be a little tricky. To make things easier on ourselves, we’re going to use our Arduino as a guide.

Place the pins through the vias on the protoshield.

PCB and Pins Placed

And Push them into the Arduino.

Pins Placed in Arduino through PCB

Now flip the whole deal over and pull the shield against the pcb.

Board Upside-Down for Soldering

We’re going to solder only a couple of pins per header while we have the board set like this. It’s not tremendously easy and we just want to secure the header. We’ll solder the rest of the pins away from the Arduino to make it easier on ourselves. A 3rd hand or “helping hands” tool is not required (this can be done on your workbench), but it does make it easier. Be careful to avoid the header on the Arduino.

Solder 2 pins on each header, and then pull off the shield. Rest it on the headers and solder the remaining pins to the vias. If you’re Right-handed, I recommend you start at the furthest left pin and work your way right. It’s an easier direction. If you’re left handed, start at the furthest right pin and head left.

Board removed from Arduino - Ready to Solder

Your board should look something like this when you’re done:

All Pins Soldered

Next, we’ll put the 3-pin header for power source control onto the board.

3-pin Header Loose

To make the header stick in while we solder the other side, we’re going to do something a little unconventional. We’re going to slightly bend one of the pins’ heads to help it hold on. Take a pair of pliers (this is where needle-nose pliers are helpful) and gently bend one of the outer pin head’s  slightly. You don’t want to make so much of a bend that you can’t get the head in, or use so much force that you snap off a pin.

In this picture you can see a slight bend in the pin on the left, below the plastic seat.

Slight Bend to one pin on the header

Place the header into the board in the upper left-hand corner where the board is marked “ALT PWR ARD”. These stand for Alternate, Power and Arduino respectively. Having the jumper on ALT and PWR will cause the board to draw voltage from the Vcc pin on the shield. Both the Vcc rail and the Voltage line on the Servo headers are fed by this. Setting the jumper on the PWR and ARD pins will cause the Shield to power the Vcc rail and servo headers from the Arduino’s 5v Line. The advantage of this header comes when you want to run a lot of Servos (for instance) The Arduino doesn’t have a lot of Amperage it can crank out, but your wall wart does!

3-pin header set in board

Once you have the 3-pin header in place, solder it down.

3-pin header Soldered

Moving on, our next component is the RX/TX pins block. This is the left over 2-position block you didn’t use when you assembled the terminal block rows. The block fits pretty level when you flip the board, so you can just plug it in…

2-Position Block Placed

…and solder.

2-Position Block Soldered

We’re almost to the end. We just need to attach our terminal blocks, and that’s it.

Terminal Blocks Placed

Take the two rows of terminal blocks you’ve put together and place them in their correct positions. They should fit pretty snug. Like the RX/TX pins, you can just flip the board over and rest it on these while you solder. Again, I recommend that you solder the opposite direction back from whatever handed you are. It just makes for a smoother workflow.

Terminal Blocks Soldered - Bottom

That’s it! Flip your work over and admire your efforts. I recommend (if you haven’t already) that you stick your jumper on there. They’re obnoxiously small, and manage to get lost pretty easily.

Shield Complete

Lastly, stick your new Shield on your Arduino and get a feel for how the pins interact with the Arduino headers.

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