Introduction: Large Arduino Prototyping Shield

About: I'm a keen motorcyclist with a collection of post-apocalyptic looking bikes and sidecars. I enjoy touring about for my holidays with my dog who is always keen to get into the sidecar so her ears can flap about…

Having recently become an Arduino fan I want to be able to have several projects but save the expense of buying more than one Arduino board. Being very lazy I would also like to be able to change between several projects and avoid all the tedious swapping around of many dangly wires and all the trouble caused when you get the order wrong or cant remember how it went together.

All the available prototyping shields I've seen are small and I want something that a whole project can be built with so I solved the problem by making a Large Arduino Prototyping Shield

Step 1: Materials Needed

Parts needed.

A large prototyping board
A strip of header socket
A strip of header plug
PCB Pins (Wire is OK)
Bits of wire
An Arduino or clone.

The usual small tools i.e.
Soldering Iron
Glue gun
Pillar drill or Dremmel

Step 2: Connection Extension Pcbs

Since the Arduino connectors don't match up with 0.1" grid I decided to make four separate extension pcbs instead of a single piece of stripboard.

Stripboard sizes
Two that are 6 by 11 holes.
Two that are 8 by 11 holes.

I made sure I cut and sanded the edges that would be closest so they align without touching.

Step 3: Adding the Pins

The PCB pin headers were put in the Arduino and the stripboard placed over the top. This was so they will all be in alignment when the prototyping board is added later on. All soldered neatly into place once the alignment was good.

Step 4: Adding the Sockets (and Power Feed)

The sockets I used are too short to poke up through the prototyping board so I had to extend them. I used PCB pins but I guess you could use some short pieces of wire instead.
PCB pins are soldered in place one hole to the inside of the Arduino connectors. I guess if you have a different prototyping board then you'll have to work out a different spacing arrangement. The pins poke up from underneath, almost the reverse of how they are normally fitted.
The sockets are then soldered to the row of pins at the height needed to poke clearly through the prototyping board.

The power for the prototyping board is supplied by two sets of wires soldered to the +5V and GND pins of the extension PCBs ready for plugging into the prototyping board in the next stage.

Step 5: Modding the Prototyping Board

Holes need to be cut in the prototyping board. I used a pillar drill to drill a line of holes and then filed all the holes together but the same can be achieved using a dremel. The holes need to be wide enough and long enough to accommodate the extensions PCBs made in the previous stages.

Step 6: Adding the Prototyping Board

The prototyping board is held in place with hot glue. I could have used resin but hot glue is easier to remove if I ever want to change it.
Simply add glue and carefully position the prototyping board and hold in place until the glue sets.

After the glue has set cut the power wires and connect them to the edge of the prototyping boards power rails. Remember that some of the power rails don't continue across the whole board.

Step 7: In Use

The board is big enough for a complete project. I tested it out with a KITT LED sequencer I've been trying to get working for some time. Now I can go back to it without having to plug in all 16 LEDs.
Because I used four separate extension PCBs there is no alignment problem and the Large Arduino Prototyping Shield can be added and removed with ease.

Would I have done it differently now it's finished?
Maybe extending the Arduino connectors to the outside of the prototyping board would have allowed more ICs to be used but only time will tell...
When inserting a component at the lower part of the board it tips up. One day I'll be bothered to glue something to the bottom to support it at the same height as the Arduino.