Saturday, January 31, 2015

MakerShield Kit, why another Prototyping Shield?

Even though I do have an Adafruit Proto Shield, which works well and I've had no problems what-so-ever with it, I decided to pick up one of the MakerShield Kits for a number of reasons.

  • Yes, It has a Potentiometer on the board ... but that wasn't the primary reason.
  • The Shield Headers allow you to attach shields ON TOP ... BIG reason #1 
  • The ICSP Headers are in the correct place for Arduino Shields ... BIG reason #2

So, why is this important if you are going to use it as a Prototyping shield, you want it to be the one on top, so you can access everything... right?   Well... yes, typically.  But here are the benefits to me...

  1. I have a pcDuino with a T Board to bridge 5V Arduino shields (the pcDuino only wants 3.3V shields used, the T Board allows 5V shields without damaging the pcDuino).  It has ICSP headers, but they aren't in the standard location for Arduino shields.  The MakerShield fixes that, I can attach this to the T Board and then attach a shield that has the ICSP connection, and I'm good-to-go.
  2. I also have an Arduino UNO clone from doflye.net (Chinese).  Bought it for about $4.00 on eBay.  After replacing the chip with the correct one for UNO (instead of the one that was included with it ,.. another $2.00 expense), I found that the ICSP headers on this board were rotated 180%!!!! (i.e not compatible with standard Arduino shields at all), and it's offset just a tad from the Standard Arduino.position too.   The MakerShield fixes that too.  I can now just attach the MakerShield to the clone, then attach a shield that has an ICSP connection, and, again, good-to-go.   I tried it with my USB Host Shield and it worked like a charm.
To me, the MakerShield is a benefit in a couple of ways ... plus it's a nice Prototyping shield too ... it works for my Arduino (including fixing a problem with a clone I purchased), pcDuino (fixing the ICSP header location on the T-Board) and my Netduino too (it doesn't even have ICSP headers ... this Shield is the recommended way to resolve that too!).

Keep in mind, that it does come as a kit, you need to dig out the tools and soldering iron to put it together.  But once you do, I think you'll find it's a nice addition.

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