Introduction: Acrylic Arduino Prototyping Stand

Picture of Acrylic Arduino Prototyping Stand

I do a lot of projects with Arduino's and breadboards.  Often as I work on a messy workbench, the Arduino or breadboard get jostled and the wires pop out of the headers or the breadboard. To solve this problem, I decided to make a simple acrylic stand for mounting an Arduino and a breadboard that would prevent them from moving around.

I used a laser cutter to cut the acrylic to size, to cut the holes for mounting the Arduino and to engrave a rectangle on the base to help align the breadboard.  Don't despair if you don't have access to a laser cutter: you could use a saw to cut the acrylic and a drill press to drill the holes.

There are two versions of the stands: one for the Arduino Duemilanove and Diecimila and one for the Arduino Uno. 

The photos show two views of an Uno stand made out of clear acrylic and a Duemilanova stand made out of blue acrylic

I made this at TechShop in Menlo Park.

Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts
You will need the following materials for the Arduino prototyping stands:
  • One 1/4" acrylic sheet (color of your choice) at least 4.5" x 6.5" (the stand when cut out is 3.8" x 5.7")
  • Four 19mm vinyl bumpers (available at any hardware store)
  • One mini breadboard (approx 3.3" x 2.2") (Radio Shack 276-003 or Jameco #20601 or similar)
For an Arduino Diecimila or Duemilanove prototyping stand you will also need:
  • Three 1/4" #6 nylon spacers
  • One M2 x 20 machine screw
  • One M2 hex nut
  • One M2 washer
  • Two M3 x 20 machine screws (you can substitute #4-40 x 3/4" machine screws)
  • Two M3 hex nuts (or #4-40 hex nut if you use the the #4-40 screw)
  • Two M3 or M4 washers (or #4-40 washer if you use the #4-40 screw)
For an Arduino Uno prototyping stand you will also need:
  • Three or four 1/4" #6 nylon spacers
  • Three or four M3 x 20 machine screws (you can substitute #4-40 x 3/4" machine screws)
  • Three or four M3 hex nuts (or #4-40 hex nut if you use the the #4-40 screw)
  • Three or four M3 or M4 washers (or #4-40 washer if you use the #4-40 screw)
One of the holes on the Uno circuit board is very close to a connector.  Depending on the size of the machine screw head you use, you may not be able to use the fourth hole to mount the board.  Don't worry if that's the case, the Uno is securely held with only three screws.

Step 2: Cut Out the Stand

Picture of Cut Out the Stand
If you are using a laser cutter, you can use the attached CorelDraw files to cut the acrylic to the precise dimensions, cut out the holes for the machine screws and engrave the guide lines for mounting the breadboard.  The cut pieces with the protective paper left on will look the first and second photos.  The third photo shows the paper removed.  The first is for an Arduino Uno and the second and third are for an Arduino Diecimila or Duemilanove.

I used a 45 watt Epilog Helix laser cutter and used the following settings for the laser.  You may need to use different settings depending on what model laser cutter you use.
  • 1/4" acrylic:
    • Raster: Speed 50, Power 80
    • Vector: Speed 6, Power 90, Frequency 5000
If you don't have a laser cutter, you can print out the CorelDraw files and use them as a template for cutting and drilling the acrylic.

Step 3: Assemble the Stand

Picture of Assemble the Stand
The stands are very easy to assemble. 
  1. Assemble each of the machine screws as shown in the first diagram.  For Arduino Duemilanove's and Diecimila's use the M2 screw for the smaller hole.  Don't over tighten the screws. 
  2. Remove the self adhesive from the back of the mini breadboard and use the engraved lines as a guide to adhere to the acrylic stand.  If your breadboard doesn't have self adhesive on the back you can use double faced tape to mount it. Using the engraved lines will ensure you get the board on straight.
  3. Turn the stand over and stick the vinyl bumpers on the back as shown in the second and third photos.  If you use clear acrylic, like I did for the Uno, make sure to place the bumpers under the Arduino circuit board and under where the breadboard goes so you don't see the bumpers from the top of the stand.
The finished stands are shown in the fourth through ninth photos.

Voila! You now have a sturdy prototyping stand for your Arduino projects.
Go forth and make cool stuff!

Comments

gwlinn123 (author)2012-07-15

I took this idea a step further because: 1) a way is needed to "reliably" run "cables" to other devices, like a home brew prom programmer, 2) sometimes, you can't program the Arduino with a shield installed. So, removing and replacing a shield after every program change is tedious and will eventually wear out the headers. Using a larger plastic sheet, I mounted the 2 Arduinos I have, a larger proto board, an RS-232 shield (with space for other shields in the future), a DB-9 and a DB-25 connector "breadout" board, a relay board, and a number of terminal blocks that have screw terminals. The DB breakout boards have screw terminals so I can simply and reliably run cables to devices using this common and cheap type of connector. I used plastic standoffs and plastic screws to mount everything (taped 4-40 holes in the plastic) so I didn't have to worry about shorting anything. I'll probably build some kind of "interface" board to let me simplify connections. For example, I have a large number of 40 pin PC IDE cables that I could use in addition to the DBs.

tdolan001 (author)gwlinn1232017-02-16

hello gwlinn123, although this is a very old post. Do you have any photos or instructions on your build? thanks in advance, tim,.,

gwlinn123

gwlinn123 (author)tdolan0012017-02-17

Thanks for your inquiry. I actually don't have it anymore and never really used it that much. It was just too big and not really that flexible. However, I still look at other DIY and professional designs to see if there are any good ideas for me.

What I have been using is shown in the photo. The 3D printed Arduino holder can take an UNO, or, in this case, a NANO. A small breadboard along side allows some wiring. Here, I'm using the NANO to drive a small LCD display. The 3D printed holder design is from ThingIverse and I have a 3D printer.

If you're just getting started, you'll probably just have to find out what works best for you. I have a number of these holders and UNOs and NANOs (very cheap on Ebay) so I don't have to tear down something to build something else. Good luck!!

gwlinn123 (author)tdolan0012017-02-16

Thanks for your inquiry! The prototyping stand I described didn't last very long because it didn't turn out to be very useful. Even though I had been a long time electronic hobbyist, I was just learning Arduino. So, I put together something that I thought would be useful. Over the years since, I have been doing something entirely different which I will try to describe. However, whenever I see a "DIY" or "professional" development platform, I STILL look at it to see if there is anything that might be useful to me.

Pardon me if I get too wordy. It would be nice if we always operated in the "ready, aim, fire" mode. But, too often it's "ready, fire, aim" because we're not really sure what we are trying to accomplish. And then, goals change over time with experience and needs.

Right now, I've been doing LED displays for my home using serially driven LEDs. I have been using the UNO prototyping holder shown in the photo from "ThingIverse". ThingIverse is a repository for "free" 3D printing objects. If your don't yet have a 3D printer, that would be a good next purchase. Here are some recommendations based upon my experience with Arduino:

1. Use a NANO or UNO for most projects. Both are cheap, especially on Ebay. Rather than just buy one, dedicate one to a project that you would like to "keep".
2. Document what you are doing: a. Before you start designing/building b., while you are designing/building, and c., after you're done. I know it's hard, but it's easier than going back later and trying to figure out what you've done. It's amazing how much of a prior work is directly usable in later designs.
3. Use "free" Inkscape to document schematics. Use Word or MS NoteBook in general for words. If nothing else, use paper notebooks. Any notes are better than no notes or piles of yellow "stickies".
4. Loose wires and "miswires" will drive you crazy so be careful.
5. Simplify the initial design. Sure, you eventually want to send data over your entire house. But first, get it working in one place. The Arduino Serial Monitor is great for debugging and you don't need an external display or printer.
6. The hardest part of a project is the "mechanical" build. So don't build anything, like drill any holes, until the design is working.
7. Be prepared for design iteration. That is, few designs are perfect the first time around.
8. There are tons of information available on the internet. Believe some of it but look at lots of it. I buy books as well so I don't have to re-find something on the net.
9. There isn't a really good way for bypass trial and error learning so you'll just have to put your head down and keep trying.

C-modifié (author)2015-02-14

This is a very good idea! I have a OSEPP Uno R3 Plus and the same breadboard. I used plastic screws with plastic washers as spacers to secure the OSEPP board on the plex and noticed there's a minimum height (thickness) for the spacers because of the welds under the board. I also had to file the side of the head of one screw because it did'nt fit between the connectors. To cut my 1/2 inch plex, I just used a table-bandsaw with guides to make it straight. I think using a laser-cutter is a little complicated and overkill for straight-cutting.. And sticked rubber bumpers in the corners. The result look pretty neat! Thank you for the idea!

EmilyH1 (author)2014-12-03

Hi,

I am using Rhino/AutoCAD to laser cut. Do you happen to have any .dwg or .pdf files? I am apparently unable to open/convert the .cdr file! This looks awesome.

dosadi (author)2012-01-22

I prefer to use an Arduino Nano that plugs straight into the breadboard.

Harry Park (author)dosadi2012-10-27

I agree but they aren't cheap at $40 so you can see why people go for the UNO at $30. But you do have a good point!

diy_bloke (author)Harry Park2012-11-05

currently there are nano's (clones) available for abt 13 USD, Uno 3 for 18 USD Mega for 17

glenngarf (author)2012-01-25

And I just completed this one using my new scroll saw to cut the acrylic. The blade I used didn't leave a smooth cut, but it's the right size, and the holes I drilled freehand lined up perfectly. Thanks for the Instructable!

talk2bruce (author)glenngarf2012-01-26

That's terrific to hear! Thanks for the comment.

LexanPanda (author)2012-01-23

I made this same thing out of necessity last year! Except, I used a hand saw with sand paper and a power drill instead of a laser. Also, the acrylic I used is so old that the paper doesn't wanna come off, so I just left it, haha.

Yours turned out really nice, great job!

bustatech (author)2012-01-23

You can buy it from here: http://www.e-shore.com.my/homepage/eshop/arduino-development-platform-v1

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