Introduction: Proto Shield

About: All-original DIY electronics kits - Adafruit Industries is a New York City based company that sells kits and parts for original, open source hardware electronics projects featured on as well a…
Arduino prototyping

This is a design for an open-source prototyping shield for Arduino NG/Diecimila. It has tons of cool features, to make prototyping on your Arduino easy.

  • Compatible with NG or Diecimila
  • Reset button up top
  • ICSP header
  • Lots of GND and +5V rails
  • DIP prototyping area makes it easy to add more chips
  • SOIC prototyping area above USB jack for up to 14-pin SOIC chip, narrow medium or wide package.
  • Use 'mini' or 'medium' breadboard
  • Two 3mm LEDs with matching resistors
  • Extra 6mm button

Ideas for use

  • Larger breadboard for tons of working space!
  • Tiny breadboard fits nicely on top
  • 2 LEDs and one button are available for general purpose use!

Step 1: Make It! Tools

Lets go!

This is a very easy kit to make, just go through each of these steps to build the kit

1. Tools and preparation
2. Check the parts list
3. Solder it


Learn how to solder with tons of tutorials!

Don't forget to learn how to use your multimeter too!


There are a few tools that are required for assembly. None of these tools are included. If you don't have them, now would be a good time to borrow or purchase them. They are very very handy whenever assembling/fixing/modifying electronic devices! I provide links to buy them, but of course, you should get them wherever is most convenient/inexpensive. Many of these parts are available in a place like Radio Shack or other (higher quality) DIY electronics stores.

I recommend a "basic" electronics tool set for this kit, which I describe here.

Soldering iron. One with temperature control and a stand is best. A conical or small 'screwdriver' tip is good, almost all irons come with one of these.

A low quality (ahem, $10 model from radioshack) iron may cause more problems than its worth!

Do not use a "ColdHeat" soldering iron, they are not suitable for delicate electronics work and can damage the kit (see here)

Solder. Rosin core, 60/40. Good solder is a good thing. Bad solder leads to bridging and cold solder joints which can be tough to find. Dont buy a tiny amount, you'll run out when you least expect it. A half pound spool is a minimum.

Multimeter/Oscilloscope. A meter is helpful to check voltages and continuity.

Flush/diagonal cutters. Essential for cutting leads close to the PCB.

Desoldering tool. If you are prone to incorrectly soldering parts.

'Handy Hands' with Magnifying Glass. Not absolutely necessary but will make things go much much faster.

Good light. More important than you think.

Check out my recommendations and where to buy.

Step 2: Make It! Parts List


Click here

Parts list

Description: Printed circuit board
Distributor: Adafruit
Qty: 1

Name: LED1
Description: Red LED Lite-On LTL-1CHE (or any 3mm LED)
Distributor: Digikey
Qty: 1

Name: LED2
Description: Green LED Lite-On LTL-1CHG (or any 3mm LED)
Distributor: Digikey
Qty: 1

Name: R1 R2
Description: 470-1.0K Resistors for LED
Qty: 2

Name: RESET S1
Description: 6mm tact switch Omron B3F-1000 (or any 6mm button)
Distributor: Digikey
Qty: 2

Name: C1 C2
Description: 0.1uF ceramic capacitor
Distributor: Digikey
Qty: 2

Name: ICSP
Description: 6 pin male header (2x3)
Distributor: Digikey
Qty: 1

Description: 8 pin female header (1x8)
Distributor: Digikey
Qty: 2

Description: 6 pin female header (1x6)
Distributor: Digikey
Qty: 2

Description: 5 pin female header (1x5)
Distributor: Digikey
Qty: 3

Description: OPTIONAL: 3 pin female header (1x3) No longer included in kits!
Distributor: Digikey
Qty: 1

Description: 36 pin male header (1x36)
Distributor: Digikey
Qty: 1

Optional parts

Description: Small breadboard (300 tie points) - This is a little more practical than the larger 'standard' ones
Distributor: Adafruit

Description: Tiny breadboard (170 tie points) - Also, 5 pin female header (1x5) for use with 'tiny' breadboard as 'end rails' - These are pricey but you can 'make it yourself' by cutting a larger breadboard down with a hacksaw!
Distributor: Adafruit

Description: "Wire wrap" female header allows 'stacking' of shields. Buy 2 16-position and cut to save costs.
Distributor: Digikey

Step 3: Solder It! Part 1

Solder it!

Time to solder the kit together! If you've never soldered before, check the Preparation page for tutorials and more.

Some web browsers (basically, IE) do not like my website so much and load the photonotes slowly. So, if you are wondering where the rest of the instructions are, either wait a while and IE will eventually display it (below here). Or download Firefox/Safari which does not have this problem!

First, check that you have all the parts! Look over the parts list

Put the two small buttons in. They will snap in and should be flush with the PCB. The buttons are symmetric so don't worry about putting them in backwards!

With your soldering iron, solder each of the 4 points on each switch

Next, place the 6 pin ICSP header. If you're never planning to use an external programmer you can skip this step!

Solder all 6 pins. You may have to tape or hold the part in place or it'll fall out!

Step 4: Solder It! Part 2

Next its time to place the two 3mm LEDs. LEDs are directional, and if you put them in backwards they wont work.

LEDs have a positive lead and a negative lead. The positive lead is longer. On the Protoshield PCB you will see a small + sign next to the LED silkscreen pictures. That's the side you should put the positive lead in.

Solder both LEDs in place

Use diagonal cutters to snip off the long legs so that they are about as long as the legs of the buttons or ICSP header.

Next place the two resistors for the LEDs. Resistors don't have a direction so you can put them in either way.

Next place the two resistors for the LEDs. Resistors don't have a direction so you can put them in either way.

Next, place the 4 8-pin and 6-pin female headers as shown.

Turn the board over and solder them in, you may have to hold the parts or tape them to keep them from falling out!

Step 5: Solder It! Part 3

Next its time to make the male headers from the long strip. use diagonal cutters or pliers to clip off 4 parts, 2 6-pin and 2 8-pin, as shown.

If you have a Diecimila Arduino, put the long ends of the male header in to the female header on the Arduino, as shown

If you have an NG, you may want to use a 4 pin header for the power connector. You'll also want to place the 3-pin female header on the ICSP connector all the way to the left as shown.

Put the proto shield on top of the Arduino, so that the male header aligns with the solder holes.

If you have an NG Arduino, solder in the 3-pin female header.

Solder every pin of the male header. Keep the shield on the Arduino to make the job easy.

Once you're done, you can remove the shield from the Arduino.

Step 6: Solder It! Part 4

If you're using a half-sized breadboard you should stop now as adding the remaining parts will make the breadboard not fit as well.

Place the two ceramic capacitors. They are symmetric so you don't have to worry about putting them in backwards.

Solder and clip the capacitors

Solder in the 3 5-pin female headers. These are especially useful if you're using a tiny breadboard with the shield.

One of the headers is all ground pins, another is all 5V pins. The final one is 'floating', which means you can use a jumper to make it Vin or 3.3V or any other value you need.

Solder in the headers

If you are using a tiny breadboard, you can just take off the backing and stick it on! (Or use double sided tape.

If you want to use the red and green LEDs or the general purpose button, simply solder solid-gauge wire (~22awg is good) into the large solder holes near the device. Then you can plug the other end of the wire like a jumper into any of the female headers. The two LEDs are tied to ground through 1K or 1.5K resistors. The button simply connects the jumper to ground when pressed (use an internal or external pull-up). Check the schematic on the download page for specific details.

Step 7: Download

PCB & Schematic

Here's the latest EagleCAD sch and brd files.

And the schematic as an image

Made available under CC 2.5 Share-Alike/Attrib. Have fun kids!

Buy Kit