How-to build a MakerShield

This article describes how to build a MakerShield from the Maker Shed.

Unlike other prototyping shields on the market, the MakerShield allows you to create the circuits the way you want, and easily make as many changes as needed without having to solder. All the major components and pins of the MakerShield are user-assignable. This allows you to simply jump from the appropriate components header pin to any of the pins on the micro-controller. You can make as many changes as you want, and all without any soldering required. Just jump and go!

Being able to change the pin connected to the on-board LEDs, button, or potentiometers allows the beginning programmer to go through the examples included in the Arduino software with ease. More advanced users will appreciate the convenience of the on-board components, and the incredible flexibility designed into MakerShield.

We havenít forgotten about the growing number of Netduino users either. They require 3.3v analog signals, and not 5v. The MakerShieldís potentiometer has a convenient jumper that allows you to select between these either 5v or 3.3v signals.

Advanced users might want to stack another shield, an Ethernet shield for example, on top of the MakerShield. This isnít a problem since the MakerShield kit uses stackable header pins, and retains the original ICSP pin locations of the Arduino.

MakerShield's unique features:
  • User definable components
  • Includes a Potentiometer, button, and (2) LEDs (needed in most circuits)
  • 3.3v & 5v compliant
  • ICSP header in the same location as the Arduino Boards
  • Power filtering capacitors on 5v and 3.3v lines

Time required to build:
  • 15-20 minutes
Required kit:
Required Tools:
  • Soldering Iron
  • Solder
  • Wire cutters
Optional Tools:
  • Fume Extractor
  • 3rd hand or PCB vise
Step 1: Check the contents

Compare the kit contents to those listed on the product page in the Maker Shed.

Step 2: Solder in the LED's & matching resistors

First we will add the red and green LED's. The LED's have 1 long lead and 1 short lead. The long lead goes into the hole labeled (+) on the PCB. We recommend putting the green LED on the right side (side with the logo) and the red on the left side, but choice is yours.

After you put the LED's into the board, flip it over and bend them outwards so they will stay in place while you solder them.

After you solder the leads, clip them close to the board.

Next, add the matching resistor for each LED. They are inserted into the board at the locations "R1" & "R2". Resistors are not polarized, so you can place them in either direction. Notice how the resistor is standing up, or 'tombstoning '. This board is packed with components, and this is a great way to save space!

The picture above shows the resistor for LED2. It is soldered in the same way as LED1.

Step 3: Solder the buttons

Next, we'll add the buttons to the board. They snap in place at locations BTN1 and BTN2. Flip the board over, solder the leads, and trim. Easy!

Step 5: Solder in the power filtering capacitors

Now we will add the power filtering capacitors. They aren't polarized, so their orientation doesn't matter. Add them to the area of the PCB by the "tx" and "rx" pins. Make sure they match the silkscreen and are placed in the correct holes.

Now you can bend the leads out, the same as you did with the LED's and resistors, and solder them in place.

Step 6: Adding the ICSP header

It's much easier to add the ICSP header pins by placing them in the appropriate spot on the PCB (labeled ICSP) and flip the board over on a flat surface. This holds the pins against the board and makes soldering a snap.

Note: The short pins get inserted into the PCB

Step 7: Solder the 3.3V - 5V jumper pins

Use the same method for soldering in the 5v - 3.3v 3-pin header. The short ends of the pins should be placed through the board and soldered. The long leads will be facing up, or on the topside of the board.

Go ahead and add the included jumper so you don't lose it! This jumper allows you to select either a 3.3v signal from the potentiometer, or a 5v signal.

Step 8: Adding the power and user selection header pins

Now we can add the 8-pin female header (with the short pins!) on the PCB at the top of the board.

Be sure to use the 8-pin header with the short pins!

You can use a little piece of tape to hold the female header pins in place, or you can hold it with your finger and solder 1 pin to hold it in place. I wrap the solder around my PanaVise to keep it steady. Easy!

Use the same technique to solder in the 4-pin female header pin (with short pins!) to the location on the bottom of the PCB labeled "BTN1, LED1, LED2, POT1".

Step 9: Solder on the stacking header pins

Now it's time to solder in the stacking header pins. Place the header pins in the PCB on the left and right side. You should have (2) 8 pin female header on the right side and (2) 6-pin headers on the left. After you place them through the board from the front, carefully flip the board over on a flat surface and solder at least (1) pin of header section.

In the picture above, you can see that each header has (1) pin soldered to the PCB. Now you can flip the board over and make sure all the stacking header pins are in alignment. Once aligned, go back and solder all the remaining pins. DO NOT TRIM THESE PINS!

Step 10: Solder on the potentiometer

The last step is to solder in the potentiometer. We solder this in last because it has a long shaft and would interfere with soldering in the female headers.

The potentiometer only fits 1 way. Orient it properly, bend the leads out a little, and solder in place. The last step is to trim the leads. You're done!

Step 11: Test fit & enjoy!

Make sure the pins are all lined up and plug it into your favorite micro-controller. Now all you have to do is plan on what you're going to make!

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