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Topic: A beginner question (Read 1 time) previous topic - next topic



I'm very new to this lark, and really don't know a lot (I've tinkered with LEDs and resistors on a solderless breadboard), but I want to learn, and was hoping someone here could clear something up for me.

Something I'm confused about are the words that get thrown about, like prototype and shield and whatnot.
Can someone please just clarify for me, a shield is a printed circuit board, either bought or constructed, that attaches on to the top of your arduino? And prototyping, is that just when you experiment with a configuration and make changes before finalising it in some way? If that's the case, then I'm not quite sure I understand what a prototyping shield would be.
Is making a shield  the most common way you would preserve a particular project? For example, maybe I make a little circuit on a solderless breadboard, and write a sketch that bounces a ball from one end to the other, with a potentiometer to increase or decrease the bounce speed. Not very exciting, but say I want to immortalise this little project. Would the standard way to do that be to create a shield with the LEDs soldered on to it? Then plug the sheild in to the arduino everytime I wanted to fondly remember one of the first projects?
I've seen various posts about producing PCBs to use as shields, but they all seem to involve doing a design and sending it off for production somewhere.

Please forgive me if the question is hideously amateurish and causes blood to pour from your nose. I have had a look around the forums, playground, and internet, but everytime I think I have it clear in my head, I spot something else that confuses me all over again.

Many, many thanks


Sep 23, 2010, 06:15 pm Last Edit: Sep 23, 2010, 06:18 pm by wortelsoft Reason: 1
A shield is a circuit board which can be stacked on top of an arduino.
There are severable availlable with different functions.

Prototyping is making a test circuit before "production" which is often done on perfboard / veroboard like this:

Here you see a prototype shield:

Which you can use to add your own circuit to an arduino.


Sep 23, 2010, 07:23 pm Last Edit: Sep 23, 2010, 07:31 pm by Korman Reason: 1
And to round things out there are also breadboards, where you can stick in components without soldering and there are modules, which are usually just one Chip with minimal components added and some pins so you can stich them easily into a breadboard.

Breadboard (from WikiPedia)

Module (from Adafruit.com)

If you start out, get a breadboard and some jumper wires. You cann connect the sockets on your Arduino to one of the holes on the bread board and tinker around to your heart's desire. Cricuits on Breadboards are a very temporary affair and don't hold up well to permanent use. All those jumper wires get in the way easily.

Prototype boards are already more permanent and useful if you have your circuit ready to be used in reality but it's not worth creating a circuit board.

Shields are designed for more permanent use and often offer all necessary functions for an application (eg Motor drivers, GPS). If you need that function and don't want to reinvent the wheel, they're very useful, but in my opinion they're too expensive to buy without an application in mind.

Modules are usually easy to use single function things to add one function. They can be added to breadboards and prototype boards just like other electronic components. Often modules are created to allow easy use of chips only available as SMD components.



Well that certainly clears up things a bit. Thanks guys!

So, say I got a prototyping shield, then tinkered around with a function and layout until I was happy with it, I could then 'produce' that as a static shield? Getting a plain board and soldering the components? Then, any time I wanted to revisit that particular little project, I could just slot the shield on, upload the sketch, and away you go.

I can't imagine my 'projects', and I use the term loosely, are going to be worthy of finalising for quite a while, but it's nice to know the option's there.

Which kind of takes me on to another thought. Is it possible to take a project, and create the whole thing on a circuit board? So, the shield and the components of an arduino, all in one? It wouldn't even need to have the ability to change the program once it's uploaded I guess. Just a thought y'know.


Yes you can use the protoshield to make a cicuit permanent. Also you can create a circuit board with microprocessor and all your custom cicuits on one circuit board (pcb)
Search for arduino standalone on this forum and you will find a lot of topics for the basic minimum for building your own boards.


If you look at this project:-
The schematics that you can down load contain a version of it using an arduino board and one just using parts. You can see the difference in the two approaches.
I seldom actual use an arduino board as such nowadays and build all my projects on prototype boards (veroboard) including the arduino bit and have a programming header so I don't need to include a USB / serial bridge on each board.

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