Picture of Cheap DIY SD card breadboard socket
Do you have a project that needs an interface to mass storage, but don't have the resources to build a breakout board for a standard socket?

In this Instructable, you will learn how to make an SD card socket that plugs right into a breadboard for less than two dollars in parts (depending on how you get them of course). I show you how to use a simple straight pin header and modify it so you can plug in an SD card and attach it directly to a breadboard for data logging and prototyping. This is quick and easy so you don't have to wait for a socket in the mail, or build/buy the SMD breakout board for it either.

Basic soldering skills and common tools are required.

I will cover how to make vertical and right angle sockets. Either 7 or 8 pin should work. 9 pin may require some modifications, I only used 7.

Step 1: Gather tools and materials

Picture of Gather tools and materials
You will need:

Soldering Iron, I use 45 watt but this is more than enough
Needlenose pliers
a vise is very useful to keep from burning yourself
and at least 21 pins of straight male breakaway header pins

I got the header pins from my local electronics parts shop. Radioshack doesn't carry them as far as I know, but they can be ordered from various places around the internet for very cheap. It was 2 dollars for 40 pins at my local shop.

Here is the digikey part, it's a bit more that 2 dollars. http://search.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/dksus.dll?Detail&name=A26513-40-ND
Same thing from Sparkfun

These are straight male breakaway header pins.

You could theoretically use right angle as well, but I used straight pins.
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Sabre001 month ago
Had this adapter around and decided to make this header. Turns out I don't need all 9 pins but it's possible.
varuninnz2 years ago
hey man I really like your tutorial and want to do make this for a project im doing.
I have 2 questions tho.
1. My project uses an arduino UNO and I need save data on a usb or sd card (I've got both). What library is the best library that will work with your configuration. I know there's an SD card library but will it work your configuration?

2. In your tutorial you said the arduino uses SPI mode with 7 pins.
I am using an Freetronics Ethernet shield and a Sparkfun SM5100B Cellular Shield & wifly RN-XV module.

They use pins:
Ethernet + wifly - (13,12,9,10) + (9,8)
Sparkfun SM5100B Cellular Shield - either pair (1,2)OR(2,3): Might be able to change this with sofware serial, doubt it tho.
+1 pin for keypad

Is it possible I can connect the 3Vs to arduino 3V and all grounds to arduino ground (analog OR digital) and somehow change the other pins from 1&2 to 3&4 software serial?

1 - Chip Select* ---SOFTWARE SERIAL TO --- 3
2 - Data Input* ----- SOFTWARE SERIAL TO -- 4
3 - Ground --- TO---- Arduino Grnd
4 - 3V3 ----TO---- Arduino 3V
5 - Clock* --- Leave this as it is ---
6 - Ground ----- To --- Arduino Ground
7 - Data Output* --- Leave this as it is ----------
Kroden (author)  varuninnz2 years ago
The SD Card really needs all input signals to be level shifted. It is a 3V tolerant device. Use a hex buffer to do this. That can be powered by the 3V supply of the arduino, as can the card. The output (MISO) doesn't need to go through the buffer.

As for the pinouts, the SPI pins must be the same as the arduino specifies, which I believe the ethernet shield uses too. BUT SPI is designed to work with multiple devices at the same time using the CS pin (Chip select). You can put this pin wherever you want, just be sure to specify the right one in the library you are using.

As for the library, any Arduino SD Library should work. I have heard of problems with cards larger than about 2GB though. Double check with the library first.

Good luck.


I need to read an SD card connected to Arduino via USB, I have usb reader to do so, but whenever the card is connected to the arduino, the USB doesn't connect to the PC, can u help me with the pins i need to cheange and how please.


Thank you. I've got a 16Gb and 512Mb i think. I'll check the library out.
Hi I had a look this SD Card shield from cooking,

I love how it can attached to the In circuit serial programmer. Is there anyway we can implement the SD CARD Breakboard socket to work with ICSP on my arduino UNO?

I understand it's a big personally i've never used the in circuit serial programmer.
Kroden (author)  varuninnz2 years ago
The ICSP connector just uses the same pins for programming as the SPI bus, which we use to connect to the SD card here. They are connected in both places. You could connect this the same way just by looking at the pinout of the ICSP header.
thanks for all your comments so far. you're a legend
cgrrty1 year ago
Great!Very Smart
tutdude982 years ago
If you solder this to sd to micro sd adapter than you have micro sd socket
Is it possible to use this to read pictures and video from my SD card. The casing for it snapped off and I can't get it to read when trying to insert the internal naked sd board into my pc adapter. I am wondering if this circuit would allow me to read all the contents off of it (pics and videos)?
Kroden (author)  salmansheikh3 years ago
That sounds like it may be a delicate operation. Depending on the thickness of the raw chip and the condition of the contacts you may be able to connect it with this method.

If you don't care about using it afterwards, you might be able to solder to the pins and connect those to a usb card reader. I can't think of any better options.
I already have the chip out. i tried to put it into my card reader with no success. Either I toasted it :( or its not making good contact. Anyway, I could hook up to an Arduino and read off the contents even if slow?

Great! it was really useful to me, since I needed an SD socket and couldn't manage to find one!
Also, its real cheap!
raque4 years ago
great! Thanks for sharing
Thanks! I am learning how to use SD cards and prior to finding this I was just holding the card to some headers in the breadboard but it was introducing a lot of connection problems. This was easy and works perfectly! It makes a surprisingly good fit too.
Jaapio5 years ago
Nice, now I just have to findout how to send commands and data in SPI mode and I can write data to a nice big storage.

You would not hapend to know what the protocol to use?
TheZuke!5 years ago
TheZuke!5 years ago
Nice idea!
Davedwin5 years ago
Thanks! I'm thinking about using this in a prototype that I'm making too (brainstorming right now). As a solution to the pin 7&8 possibly shorting out. you could paint over the unused one, OR since paint will eventually scrap off you could file off the pin altogether. It's just a prototype after all, and you can get new cards for <$10.
als_liahona5 years ago
Great idea, great Instructable!  I just added a comment to my own Instructable (http://www.instructables.com/id/Digital-Window-Sticker-Arduino-Controlled/) recommending this as an alternative to the expensive SD Card breakout board I used!
T-virus6 years ago
Great! Can I turn it into a USB SD card reader?
Kroden (author)  T-virus6 years ago
I suppose you could pick up a USB driver IC and build an interface around it. I think it would save some trouble to just buy one, but it is however possible. It would probably use the SD mode, and as such, you would need pins on all 9 contacts. Good luck to you if you try this, I'd like to hear how it goes if you do.
T-virus Kroden6 years ago
I'm not good at electronic anyway. I really like the vertical socket, it's look so COOL!!!
nevdull6 years ago
Brilliant and fantastic!
frollard6 years ago
Neat take on a simple project. Is there something more sturdy or ...suited for the backplate (non-data side) I wonder? The pins just seems like they want to be...not pins :D Looks great though!
**Good job on getting tagged on hackaday too!
Kroden (author)  frollard6 years ago
Thanks for pointing that out, I never expected that. I don't visit hackaday very often, so i might have never seen that. On the subject of the backplate, I've been thinking of a way to use a PCB as the backing, in a more permanent setting. I'll make an update if I ever get around to doing that.
frollard Kroden6 years ago
ooh, thats a wonderful idea - bend the header appropriate for a card laying flat against the pcb...then solder header on - I like it. It would take some custom drilling, but wouldn't need anything more than perf board.
Kroden (author)  frollard6 years ago
Hey, you should check out step 8, new!
frollard Kroden6 years ago
GhostWolf6 years ago
Nice one, I think that I am going to try to make a Parallel port to SD card adapter for my Atari ST and IBM PC.
KraZe_EyE6 years ago
Very nice dude; im gonna use this in my class
Kroden (author)  KraZe_EyE6 years ago
cool, what kind of class is it?
Advanced Digital; use of microcontrollers and and memory and stuff like that. I bet my teacher will flip when I whip this out.
charlieb0006 years ago
use a microSD to SD adapter (comes with all/most micro SD cards) then you can swap cards with no soldering
brainmedley6 years ago
FWIW a dual-row header works great for this. A couple tricks: I built mine with a dual-row header with roughly equal length pins so one side can grip the card while the other side is still long enough to plug deeply into a breadboard, also I bent the tips of the pins up first, then used a nail that just fit between the rows to make the "lower" bend, finally I slid a metal ruler in between to pry back open the gap so I now have a good - but not too tight - grip on the card. I found 8 or even 9 (x2) pins makes it easier to ensure that pin 7 doesn't get out of alignment. Thanks for bringing to my attention how easy it can be to use SD cards - I finally have a use for the 16MB(!) SD card that came with my camera so many (4) years ago.
Kroden (author)  brainmedley6 years ago
Glad you had luck with a double row header. I thought it might be possible, I just didn't have any to try it out with. I might try that 8 and 9 pin adjustment too, sounds better than risking a short. Thanks for the suggestion! And glad you could use the 16MB, thats the same capacity I was using.
jewelzc46 years ago
Great Stuff, Very MacGyver. Also you got posted to MAKE blog
Kroden (author)  jewelzc46 years ago
Thanks! I hear those MacGyver comments a lot.
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