Arduino: ProtoScrewShield, the electricians dream

No soldering is required for this Arduino shield, except to build it (it’s sold as a kit), but that was on the other hand quickly done.

IMAG0228

(notice the semi-pro background sheen, caused by putting the boards on top of a Dell Vostro 3500; tricks of the trade)

This shield makes it much easier to wire up e.g. connections to external buttons, switches, relays etc, without soldering.

It of course also fits Netduino (as shown in the picture) and other Arduino pin-compliant boards.

Pros:

  • Very clear port markings (hard to make a mistake)
  • Large prototyping area (larger than on a normal prototyping shield and with double rows of port connection holes)
  • Very low price (€10.90 at Sparkfun)
  • Works with both cut and crossed slot screw drivers
  • There’s room for two mini breadboards

Cons:

  • The size of the board, that extends way outside an Arduino board (not very practical)
  • The holes on the prototyping area are weirdly interconnected, especially the area closest on the photo where all holes are connected together; what was the point of that?
  • Lack of port protection/amplifiers (almost expected for the assumed more heavy duty use; I wish I could connect relays, high power LEDs etc directly to it); possibly not achievable due to each port’s double and sometimes triple nature

The optimal such board would be Arduino-sized, have individual port protection and current amplifiers, and a smaller (or no) prototyping area. This board is an attempt at catering to use of both external and internal components, which I think is a bit misguided.

In any case, it’s well worth buying if you want to quickly re-route connections, or often switch between different types of sensors etc, or you are generally the type that blows up things. The risk is of course that you might blow up also the microcontroller, so you still need to be careful with how much current you sink per port and how much voltage you use on input ports.