The Arduino Mega Protoshield Kit – Build Instructions

1. Introduction:
For my new Arduino controlled greenhouse project I lately required a new Arduino Mega Protoshield. I’ve had the nice red Sparkfun one for quite some time now but since I’m using an Arduino Mega 2560 for this project I wanted something that brought up the additional new pins and the ICSP header. The latest original Arduino Mega Protoshield (A000039) was an exact match for my requirements and as a kit available from proto-pic for under £14. How was I meant to resist :)

 

2. Where’s me instructable:
I’m lazy these days so every new kit I get I open google to look for an instructable. Usually I don’t need the instructions but I have on so many occasions found welcome additional tweaks and project ideas mentioned in said instructables and met so many great people from comments and forum posts that I seems time well spent. Oddly enough, I found nothing for this kit. Worse, I found forum posts asking specifically for this instructable but no valid answers/links.
I get it, this kit isn’t complex so I assume nobody could so far be asked to write this guide, especially since the Arduino Mega isn’t exactly geared towards entry level projects. Still, I’ve decided to take a few pictures while I build and write this post. Even if it’s just to get a few friendly comments or helps to reassure sombody that they are building it as intended it’ll be worth a little bit of my time I think.

 

3. What’s in the box:
This is what I got with my kit:

  • One Arduino Mega Protoshield Kit
  • Two little push buttons
  • One single row strip of 40 long headers
  • One 18×2 header block
  • Three LEDs (one each of Red, Green and Yellow)
  • Three 220 Ohm Resistors
  • Three 1K Ohm Resistors
  • Three 10K Ohm Resistors
Arduino Mega Protoshield Kit

 

4. Let’s build:
There is no need to solder the parts in this particular order but this worked for me.

4.1 LEDs and resistors:
Have a look for the corner which is meant to get the two LEDs (look at the top of the shield, if you can read the Arduino logo it’s the top left corner). Fit the two 220Ohm resistors (orientation doesn’t matter with those) and get one red and one green LED. If you look at the bottom side of the shield it’s easy to determine which way round to mount the LEDs. The shorter lead gets connected to ground and it’s easy to see which solder run comes from ground. In other words, the holes closest to the little “1″ are the ones connecting to ground aka the ones for the shorter lead. Solder in place and trim off the surplus leads.

Arduino Mega Protoshield Kit - LEDs 1

Arduino Mega Protoshield Kit - LEDs 2

Arduino Mega Protoshield Kit - LEDs 3

 

4.2 ICSP header and push button:
If you look at the top of the shield and if you can read the Arduino logo the little push botton goes right next to the logo on the right hand side. The ICSP header then again goes to the right hand side of the push button.

Arduino Mega Protoshield Kit - icsp/button

 

4.3 Headers:
There is the long row of 18×2 pins for the large pin block on the right hand side of the shield. Once you are done with soldering that one into place snap the long single row of headers into smaller parts to provide the segments required for the groups of pins at the top and bottom edge of the shield. In my case the 18×2 pins were quite a bit shorter than the other header pins so I decided to shorten the pins at the top/bottom.

Arduino Mega Protoshield Kit - headers

 

5. Conclusion:
It does what I want and I think it does it well. The shield is of very good quality and the design is well thought through, everything seems to be in the right place. The Mega shields tend to be a bit hard to fit onto the actual Arduino Mega literally because of the 1001 pins and especially the giant 18×2 header section. This one isn’t any better or worse than all the other ones I’ve tried. The kit leaves a few spare parts in form of one yellow LED, one push button and a couple of resistors but I’m not entirely sure what they are meant to be good for. I’m open to suggestions :)
The only thing I would critisice, and that’s pure criticism of the kit not the shield itself, it the fact that my kit came with long top/bottom headers but the 18×2 header section consists of pins which are 2/3 of the length at best. Only chance I saw to get all pins inserted was to shorten the top/bottom header pins which works fine but, once mounted onto the Arduino Mega, means there is very little distance between the Arduino Mega and the protoshield which I don’t really like.

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Add a comment »3 comments to this article

  1. In my opinion, the biggest shortcoming of this shield is that the kit doesn’t come with the long female headers which are required if you want to stack other shields on top of the proto shield. Finding *long* female headers is difficult enough, but this is especially the case for the six pin ICSP header. I wanted to stack an Ethernet shield on top of my protoshield, which uses the ICSP header, so I had to fabricate a long inverted ICSP header to get this to work.

    Also, this shield doesn’t use the Arduino 1.0 layout, so doesn’t have the extra SCL and SDA pins.

    Reply

  2. Hello! I understand this is somewhat off-topic however I needed
    to ask. Does operating a well-established blog like yours
    take a large amount of work? I am brand new to writing
    a blog however I do write in my diary on a daily basis.

    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my experience and views online. Please let me know if you have any ideas or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

    Reply

    • Sorry for the delay, managed to bork up notifications on new comments. Running a blog isn’t too heavy, I’d say add another 10-15% of effort on top of the time it takes to generate your content and two weekends to get set up initially. Hope this helps,
      Peter

      Reply


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