Custom Shield - Protoboard

So i spent my weekend practicing on Eaglecad and was thinking that a Proto-board might come in handy for people who wants to have their simple circuitry off the breadboard.

Haven’t routed the :spark: core pins to the rows on the edge yet but thought i would just share it :smile:

  1. I’m thinking of having a row of header which matches a 16x2 LCD display so a beginner can simply plug it in and play around with the code and enjoy having a display!

  2. Also wish to design a minimalist Micro-sd shield without the 4050 level shifter since the core is already running off 3.3V.

+1 if you would love to have one in future? :smile:


I picked up a 5-pack of 4x6cm boards on Amazon for $10. They’re just about the right size for the Spark. One of them will be featured in an upcoming project share this week. :wink:

Cheap stuff. Gonna be hard to beat the price but actually i’m not really thinking bout the money.

More like something helpful for the:spark: makers :slight_smile:

They still need female headers… wires to link etc with that

No doubt. I was just suggesting those as a cheap(ish) starting place for your proto-prototyping. I definitely agree that the :spark: could use a fancy protoboard similar to the Arduino ProtoShield with one of the mini breadboards attached or something similar.

As far as personal feedback goes:

  • I’ve never had much use for LCDs, honestly. I think nearly all of my Arduino and :spark: projects have had some sort of remote-ness to them (hidden, polling data, pushing that data to the 'net somehow). Of course, I say that the week after I ordered a Nokia 5110 LCD to play around with!
  • The MicroSD fits the :spark: perfectly, in my opinion. The :spark: is tiny. MicroSD is tiny. They were meant for each other! I may have to tinker with the idea of using some sort of external storage device (like SD) for g-code storage and retrieval with my wireless 3D printer project.

I like the idea of a :spark: protoboard like the Arduino ProtoShield.

Let me see what I can improve on my design.

The challenge is the pins are populated facing down unlike the Arduino and shields have to be stacked downwards… im thinking how best I can make the microSD board and how to best attach it to the core.

Stacking it underneath doesn’t sounds cool and you can’t plug onto a breadboard unless I use the headrr with female on top and male below.

Kinda overkill to attach a microSD card!

Keep all your comments coming and hope to contribute some useful boards! :wink:

Got R2 done up with the pins routed out to the side of the protoboard!

I’m finding trouble routing out the RST pin but more or less done :wink:

This board is like 3 inch X 2 inches and that’s like USD$30 for 3 boards from OSHpark… pricey…


I really like the idea of a proto-board for Spark Core but, at $10 a piece it is pricey. I also use OSHPark for my protoboards.

Your idea of having a header pre-wired for an LCD is very nice and and would be helpful but, here is my idea.

Why not move the core on top of proto area as it is elevated with female headers. During design phase user can run jumper wires from core socket on your protoboard to core on bread board. They will only tie those core pins they need from the core on your protobaord. This square layout of 2" x 2" would lower pricing to $20 for 3 boards at OSHPark - not so pricey :slight_smile:

Just my thoughts.


Thanks for the feedback!

$10 bucks is pricey but we should a better price if we crowdfund and send for larger production. Just wondering if there are many people who wants this though.

I’m confident it will be well liked by hobbyists/beginners just like the Arduino protoboard.

I thought of doing so but the area like to prototype isn’t that big if we do that, no?

It’s like the area between inbetween the header pins left to make your stuff.

I can design that too for people adding mayve only like a simple temperature sensor or even accelerometer if you look at it.

Got the idea of this kinda protoboard from another project that I backed. :slight_smile:

They have the main module on the top and a rectangular area strip downwards for you to prototype!

Your design is coming along nicely. Eagle is a very useful tool,. eh?

Some random ideas for you …

Why not the best of both worlds? Pads in-between a socketed, raised module’s pins and above and below – including the pre-routed LCD pads? You get about 11mm clearance if mounting the module atop standard female IDC strips (like the Arduino has.)

As already stated by @spydrop, doing this has the advantage that the builder only routes to the pins they are using, freeing up the otherwise pre-routed pads for whatever else they might want. It has the obvious disadvantage that, well, they have to route those pads themselves, consuming precious new project excitement reserves. :wink:

Another idea is the one of replicating the size, shape, hole positions and pre-existing routing linkages of the little breadboard that the core comes with – maybe adding things like your LCD connector strip on additionally. Users then get to build something on the breadboard, getting it working there first and then transfer it (more tidily) to your PCB proto board, in exactly the same configuration.

Or do both! :smiley:

You could even get V-cuts made on a larger pad array design, allowing unused sections to be easy snapped off and used for other projects, perhaps. (Not sure if OSHpark does V-cuts, though?)

Pros and cons … “Lots of ways to skin a cat!”, as my Grand Peppy used to always say. Oooh! :stuck_out_tongue:

Re OSHpark and costs … I understood that they price boards by the sq. inch, not paying attention to any maximum side length for pricing breaks. So the shape shouldn’t really affect cost much. But I may have that wrong in my head? I only discovered them a couple weeks back and am waiting for my first boards. Yummy.

Meanwhile, for slightly larger numbers of 2-layer boards of around this size – like ten – you will probably find the PCB Prototype service at considerably cheaper, per board. I think the last 5x5cm boards I had them do were US$16, including shipping – for ten. So $1.60 each, landed. I have used them many times, with only ever the cheapest registered post delivery option and always been very happy with the results. Total delivery time is roughly the same – ITead being China based and me being in New Zealand.

Don’t get me wrong. OSHpark rocks for new prototypes or one-offs – especially 4-layer boards and with ENIG (gold plating) as standard. Wow. How do they do it?! Very cool. :smiley:

Wow great feedback!

I’m thinking an simple strip shield for LCD that attaches to the LCD then to the breadboard with a core would get beginners started real quick!

This way, the board is gonna be really slim like a strip which makes it really affordable and fun!

This sounds interesting! Let me see what i can.

The problem is always that the :spark: core is ‘dominant’ i would call it cos it has to somehow be the ‘king’ and stay above due to wifi :smiley:

Honestly, i wanted to add pads in between the headers area. But if i wanted to make a proto-board to the slimmest that i can, i would need to route on the inside as well or everything keeps extended outwards just for the few additional wiring.

You are guys are making me work harder each week :stuck_out_tongue:

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Your work and contribution to this community is well appreciated. Thanks So Much for doing so !

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R3 of the protoboard to clean up any loose ends and ready for one to be fabricated :smiley:

I decided that the LCD header should be left out since it’s gonna take up a couple of pins and might not be helpful wiring up other circuitry!

Another board is being designed to easily attach a 16x2 LCD to the :spark: core via a 595 or just Parallel pins. That will come in later :smile:


This is VERY NICE. 2.89" x 1".

but, I have question relating to stacking boards compared to Arduino.

With Arduino you can set the CLK pin in the IDE and be able to stack cards. For example, on your MicroSD spark core board if you had a jumper that could switch the phsysical trace to a different control pin that would allow stacking with Spar Core; correct ? Or is it not that simple ?


I never owned an Arduino shield though i have an Uno and made a shield myself previously :wink:

Do you have a link about the CLK pin or something? would like to understand more.

If you meant the CS pin for SPI devices in general,

For the microSD, i will probably use the Hardware SPI which uses the SS pin.

The other 2 FRAM you notice, goes to D0 and D1.

But all is not cast in stone at this point in time :smiley:

Trying to make it simple for beginners to start off (using hardware SPI) and maybe pads can be added to route the CS pins to other pins desired.

Software SPI isn’t really thought of at this point in time…


Yes, you are right it is the CS pin (Some Arduino cards use Pin 10 for CS which is also SS pin used for SPI - I hope I got that right). Later Uno Cards started using Pin 4 as CS to prevent confilicts when stacking cards.

I would like to see jumpers where I could set CS pin to (2,3,4 or ? pin) on both your microSD Card and other cards to prevent conflicts. Once card is set to pin 2,3,4 or ? then go in to IDE and set CS pin there…

Do you know what I mean ?

Here are 2 pages that may be helpful.

Oh yeah I understand you perfectly :slight_smile:

It’s one of those to-take-extra-note pin you’re concerned about and is valid.

It’s gonna start giving us issues when users hook up more than 1 SPI device using the Hardware SPI SS pin.

I’ll keep that in mind and have a pad which you can desolder the solder joining the SS and CS of the microsd as well as the other pins :).

Really challenging as I attempt to squeeze morr flexibility in the shield!

Really Cool ! So if you were to wire your proto card same way they do Arduino cards. We coudl make a Spark Core / Arduino Proto Board ? (Another Step for Spark core in my quest to take over the world :slight_smile: )

So a person would have the option of plugging in either their Arduino UNO or a Spar Core to the same protoboard (is this possible). New Products will be showing up all over the place.

Sounds great but not that way :slight_smile:

The width of the protoboard is spark core size and your Uno is too huge for that matter :stuck_out_tongue:

Okay, first pitch failed :(. Yes, Yes I understand - very small and wonderful. I suggest 2 options for getting more people to jump over to spark core. Your small Spark Core Size & I can build from there for Arduino.

So, pins connected to your microSD card, ss, cs clk are they going to connect similar, arduino compatable in configuration. All this talk about being Arduino compatiable has its good points.

If so, pins connection same-similar then its.

  1. Strech borders.
  2. Throw on 4 female header pads.
  3. Add 5v reg, 2 caps, a resistor & LED
  4. Connect Arduno pads to Spark core pads and presto; Arudino / Spark Core compatble.

And since Arduino has 3.3v regulated supply, I could see running both at thes same time with a stack upon a stack.

What do ye say ?

Cmon buy the shield shield :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m :spark: focused. hahahaha!