Ultra Sparse Arduino Proto Shields

About: Industrial electrician with a keen interest in exploring all sorts of control and automation systems. Still teaching myself the basics of digital electronic circuit design. Huge fan of fast, cheap prototype ...

This "photo instructable" is intended as more than just a "look at me".  There are resources attached that some may find useful.
Even if you're thinking "another proto-shield?  Why bother?", maybe you might like to consider the benefits and low cost of these 2 designs.

I prefer to do most of my prototyping on strip board (AKA Veroboard)
The 2 things that I find most frustrating about the Arduino prototyping shields already commonly available are:
1.) They are all (?) "donut board" rather than "strip board" which I find awkward and ugly to use.
2.) They are inevitably cluttered up with dedicated tracks for things I don't want in places where I don't want them (LEDs, buttons, SMD breakouts, etc)

The two Arduino protoshields I have designed provide the largest possible area of plain, simple strip board - with a choice of strip orientation.
The strips are on the underside of the boards and do not have solder mask on them, providing the same level of design freedom as standard strip board.  The top surface presents the familiar pattern of solder mask free "donuts" and all the holes are plated.

Both boards breakout all the Arduino pins for UNO or EARLIER boards.  I don't own a Leonardo, so I don't need proto boards with the extra pins.

Both boards have the same physical shape as the Arduino except that there is 1 extra row of holes outside the standard headers in order to make it easier to add external connections, give additional stacking options, etc.  These rows can simply be sanded/filed off if the size needs to comply with the standard Arduino shape.

Both boards have extra large holes at the end of each strip in order to easily accommodate screw terminals.

On the "horizontal" board (where the strips run lengthways), I have provided two "inboard" holes for each pin.

On the "vertical" (crossways) board, there are a couple of bus rails adjacent to each header.

I have included gerber files and I can recommend SEEED Studio and HACKVANA  for getting them made. (No, I DO NOT get any sort of kickback from them - I just like the service!)
Cost of 10 boards from either service is around $20AU delivered.  That's $2AU per board.

There is also .pdf files for those who want to make their own with toner transfer or similar methods (thats a LOT of drilling, folks!)

I hope you find these as useful as I do.  If you use one in your own Instructable or elsewhere, please consider adding a link.

UPDATE:  I've added templates for use with VeeCAD.
Check out VeeCAD here: http://veecad.com/

UPDATE:  I foolishly left the drill files (.txt) out of the zips.  Sorry.  New zip files protoV203a.zip ("vertical") and protoV104a.zip ("horizontal") should fix that.

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    7 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    These look great! I went to order the ProtoV203 via Seeed Studio and they are requesting the Drill Drawing with file extension of .TXT. The requirement state that all files should be Gerber_RS274X, however they also request "Select EXCELLON instead of Gerber_RS274X when choosing the Device for Drill Data." Any ideas? Thanks!

    4 replies

    Hi brulog - I foolishly left the drill files out when I zipped them. Sorry about that. Try the replacment zip files posted.

    Here's a shot of what just arrived from Seeed Studio (https://www.instructables.com/id/Ultra-sparse-Arduino-proto-shields/)

    Can't wait to start building my prototypes! I ordered 10 of the vertical boards for $24.50 (USD) plus $5.00 shipping. They actually sent 12 boards, so $2.46 each delivered. Total turnaround time including shipping from China to US was about 3 weeks (20 days).


    Enjoy your boards :)
    If you haven't already, check out VeeCAD. It's a stripboard design tool that makes component layout really easy - especially since I've made templates for these protoboards to use with it. You do your schematic in TinyCAD, then import the net list into VeeCAD to place your components. It will tell you if you are making a mistake in placement or connections.
    Both TinyCAD and VeeCAD have fully functional free versions to get started with.


    Thankyou, sir. You make some impressive pieces. And it's a nice jewelery bench - beats my hobby one hands down!
    Hope you can use my humble offering.