Personally I would say Arduino is one the best tool a hobbyist, expert or beginner, can have.
Experts may find it very useful for rapid prototyping of their design ideas and beginners will surely enjoy the high level approach of programming. It is easy to learn, very straight forward, yet simple.
With all of the advantages offered by Arduino there’s one thing I don’t like with it. The pitch between digital pin 7 and 8 is not standard, and I’ll bet non of the locally available prototyping boards (universal PCB) would be suitable for it.
*Images Courtesy of : Project Blog
At first look the 0.04” offset between a standard header spacing and Arduino is barely noticeable but the problem becomes evident when you try to squeeze a standard spaced shield in. If you do this you’ll probably notice the header’s pin would slightly bend due to the offset.
*Images Courtesy of : Project Blog
For those of who have the luxury of time, the problem can be easily addressed by developing their own shield and go through the pain of fabricating their own PCBs.
Many prefer to buy commercially available shields but the price of those shields maybe far off the budget of a middle class hobbyist. Some will just bend the pins and make it fit on Arduino.
Another solution is we can modify a prototyping board to make it compatible with Arduino. I prepared a tutorial on how it can be done.
Step 1 – Prepare the Materials
Materials needed for the project are, 1pc e-Gizmo EGPC-02 universal PCB, 2pcs 16×1 female header, 2pcs 8×1 long leaded female header, and 2pcs 6×1 long leaded female header.
You’ll also need a super glue, soldering iron and solder, PCB drill or office cutter, and #20 or #22 stranded wires.
1pc e-Gizmo EGPC-02
2pcs 16×1 female header
2pcs 8×1 long leaded female header
2pcs 6×1 long leaded female header
* Prices are true as of 20101013 and may vary depending on vendor and location
**Total Price does not include the price of the tools that will be used and other constructing materials like solders and wires
Step 2 – Insert the Headers
Insert 1 of the 16×1 female header on the universal PCB starting at coordinate B-22 and the opposite end should fall at B-7.
Insert the other 16×1 female header at the opposite side of the board starting at Q-22 and the opposite end should fall at Q-7.
Insert 1 of the 6×1 long leaded header on coordinate starting at R-22 and its end must fall at R-17. Skip 1 hole along column R and insert the other 6×1 long leaded header at coordinate R-15, its end must fall at R-9.
Solder the pins on the opposite side of the board. Don’t be bothered if you noticed that the long leaded headers are connected on the power trace. It is intentional.
Step 3 – Insert the 8×1 Long Leaded Headers
Insert the 8×1 long leaded headers on the Arduino’s Digital IO pins as shown on the diagram below.
Step 4 – Glue the Headers
Insert the leads of the universal PCB we have prepared at the opposite end of Arduino (Analog Pins and Power Pins).
Using a super glue, glue the pins of 8×1 long leaded header on the universal PCB.
Step 5 – Cut Traces
If you can recall, we have connected the 6×1 headers on the power trace. Connection between the header’s pins must be cut, it can easily be accomplished using a PCB drill or an office cutter.
Step 6 – Make Connections
Pins of the 16×1 headers must be connected to the pins of the long leaded headers nearest to them.
We can use #22 or #20 stranded wires to make connections between the 8×1 long leaded headers and the 16×1 header.
The 6×1 long leaded headers are connected to the adjacent 16×1 header by soldering.
Step 7 – Connect the +5V and GND
Connect Arduino’s +5V supply pin to one of the power trace (N-12 and M-12, this will become the Vcc of the Proto-Sheild).
Connect Arduino’s GND pin to the remaining power trace (E-8 and F8, this will become the Gnd of the Proto-Sheild).
Finally we’ll have a Proto-Shield that is cheap and can be easily expanded because standard headers is provided (16×1 female header) to allow stocking of additional Proto-Shields on top of it without going through the process of gluing the headers and cutting the power trace.
Below is and example of how DIY Proto-Shields can be stacked. Additional shields require only soldering the long leaded headers on top of it.