'Level' Arduino shield.

I’m working on making an augmented reality gaming system, and for the prototype, I’m going to need a good bit of shields.
I want the prototype to be less than bulky, and shields can cause the Arduino to be quite tall.
What I’m wondering is, has anyone ever thought, or knows of, and Arduino shield that carries the pins down to an even level with the Arduino, so that you end up with the shield being on the same level with the Arduino.
You could potentially put 2 shields on each side of the Arduino, at the same height as the Arduino board, and make the ‘rails’ for the shields expand out. This would make your stack of shields wider, not taller, which is exactly what I need in my project.

The file attached is a quick sketch I did to show what I’m visualizing. The blue square being the Arduino, black boxes being headers, the red boxes being shields that would normally go on top of the Arduino, and the brown being the shield body itself.
I imagine the traces would run down the shield, to connect the headers to their respective pins.

Levelshield.bmp (1.42 MB)

Not exactly your design but I've seen shield adapters that "mount"sideways like - http://www.liquidware.com/shop/show/TEX/TripleWide+ExtenderShield+X -

liudr has some cables that bring the headers out to prototype boards, I think they would do that.

http://www.inmojo.com/store/liudr-arduino-and-physics-gadgets/item/phi-connect-arduino-cable-management/

Well, maybe not.
Maybe this - assemble this screw shield with the screw terminals on the bottom instead of the top, then the signals will come out the sides.
Hmm, that would still be a little tall.
Or maybe make a wider version of the Aussie shield that brings complete sets of headers out to both side?
http://www.ruggedcircuits.com/html/aussie_shield.html

So a card like this - male headers at all locations facing “down” and plugging into female headers on all shields. All cards sit on the same plane.

Would it be too hard to do such a thing where the pins are stepped down a level from the arduino, so that they sit on the same plane? It would be like one of those 'wide' shields, but with female headers on the same level as the arduino for shields to plug into. Would I have to make this myself, or are there companies out there that make custom shields?

So something like this then. 178mm wide, could be a little narrower, 50m tall.
Trying to hold to <200mm x 50mm for board size price break.
I do custom boards, custom shields.
What are you after besides the platform to mount stuff onto?

some ideas came up - rotate the three "elements" 90 degrees so all connectors are on the outside? - why mount an Arduino on the middle part, let the middle (or left or right) part BE an Arduino -> allows 3 shields iso 2 - add some grid in the free space so one can add e.g. I2C eeprom's or shift registers - add screw connectors (placeholders for) screwconnectors on the free sides - of course reset button

CrossRoads: So something like this then. 178mm wide, could be a little narrower, 50m tall. Trying to hold to <200mm x 50mm for board size price break. I do custom boards, custom shields. What are you after besides the platform to mount stuff onto?

The pictures you have included seem like that shield would work great.

Rotating - sounds good, would make board really long. I think also less practical for power headers. Maybe just turn the outer ones?.
I could see making one of the three a arduino clone.Or at least alloeing for it to be populated as one.

Will look into the other ideas also. Am in between bouts directing a high school fencing tournament.

How much of a task would it be to just use connections to connect one arduino pin to the corresponding ones on the shield slots? What is preventing that?

CrossRoads: Rotating - sounds good, would make board really long. I think also less practical for power headers. Maybe just turn the outer ones?. I could see making one of the three a arduino clone.Or at least alloeing for it to be populated as one.

outer two is also an option. Think you should take 3 shields - with their connectors - and place them side by side, rotate and see how connections are affected. Eg. the ethernetshield has a big connector.

Most important is maybe to include some "slack space" as not all shield are the same size (esp display shields , screw shield) maybe check http://shieldlist.org for the extra space needed to work with 90% of the shields.

Okay, here’s one variation: Arduino clone that can accept 3 shields.

And its schematic

And a dual-screw variant

How much of a task would it be to just use connections to connect one arduino pin to the corresponding ones on the shield slots? What is preventing that?

Isn’t what I showed in #18? 3 header sets, one for and arduino, 2 for slaves?
Or did you mean with wires?
You could make up a Y cable from arduino to slave using these parts from pololu.com:
Male pins to plug into the ardiuno
http://www.pololu.com/product/1931
female pins for the shields
http://www.pololu.com/product/1930
crimp housings to organize the wires
http://www.pololu.com/product/1907
can also get preterminated wires to get you half way there
http://www.pololu.com/product/1801

WireJunky, I got to thinking more about your question in #10 - I think you are asking how much trouble to put essentially a jumper space at each pin to let users wire each arduino signal to a slave header? I think that would be really useful, lets users only connect what is needed & avoids signal contention between shields. Take a while to draw up.

So something like this - each header with a jumper pad to connect the header to an arduino signal, either the one adjacent to it, or to a different one. Only +3.3, +5, and Gnd are connected.

CrossRoads: So something like this - each header with a jumper pad to connect the header to an arduino signal, either the one adjacent to it, or to a different one. Only +3.3, +5, and Gnd are connected.

Really flexible this way ! +1

Need to get 8 Grounds connected up still before I could order cards (in February, after the China spring hioliday). You can almost make them out as black lines above.