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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Arduino Screw Shield Review

This is a review of the Freetronics Terminal Shield and the SnootLabs Power Screw Shield.

Introduction.
The Arduino socket strips are okay for attaching components, but sometimes, when putting together a quick prototype it would be useful to be able to have something more substantial - like a screw terminal.

These shield boards provide just such a feature.


                                  Snootlabs                                                          Freetronics

The shields are intended for the Arduino Uno and earlier versions of Arduino. They break out all the terminal sockets into screw terminals.

Prices
The Snootlabs shield costs around 21 USD as a kit and 28 USD fully assembled.
The Freetronics shiled is only available fully assembled and costs around 17 USD

In Common
Both boards use straight through headers that mean as well as having screw terminals, you can also fit another shield on top. In both cases, the designers have left enough room to easily access the screw terminals even with a big shield like an LCD shield attached.


Both boards have a reset button.

SnootLabs Power Screw Shield
This is the larger and more expensive of the two shields. It has a large prototyping area where you can solder in components. It also has special areas of the board for soldering in a SMD chip and for DIL through hole ICs.

The other noticeable difference is the power connector. This is the same type of four pin connectors that you used to find on PATA Hard Disks to supply the power.

Jumpers allow you to configure this socket to either provide the power to the Arduino, or to pass through the Vin 2.1mm socket on the Arduino to the 4 pin socket to provide power to other devices.

There is also an LED that can either be linked to an IO pin of your choice or to 5V to act as a power-on indicator.

The Snootlabs website has very good information on this shield, including a photographic style sheet of instructions for constructing the board and a useful datasheet that explains what all the jumpers do without having to start working out whats going on from the schematics.


Providing the board in kit form is a nice idea. As well as being cheaper, its a nice easy project for someone new to electronics wanting to practice their soldering.

Freetronics Terminal Shield

As with all Freetronics kit. This is a high quality board that is sold fully assembled. Its smaller and cheaper than the Snootlabs shield and does not have a dedicated IC area for SMD or 0.1inch DIL. It does exactly what it says on the tin.

The board comes with a number of surface mount components already attached to it. This includes three (red, green and blue) LEDs and their current limiting resistors. These are positioned on the back ende of the shield where they are easily visible and can be wired to any of the IO pins.


Conclusion

Both products are good quality and neither will dispoint.

If you need to use an SMD IC for your project then the dedicated area for this makes the Snootlabs shield a good choice. The same applies if you need all the prototyping area you can get.

If this is not a consideration then the cheaper Freetronics shield will serve you just fine.


Other Options

Other screw shields are available of course and if you do not need the prototyping area then something like the WingShield may be of use to you. http://wingshieldindustries.com/products/screwshield/

Sparkfun and Adafruit both sell shields similar to the Freetronics offering: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9729 and http://www.adafruit.com/products/196

About the Author
These are my books. Click on the image below to find out more about them.


                                                                                                                           

4 comments:

Printed Circuits said...

Do you like it when surface mount components are already attached or would you prefer them not to be and do it all yourself?

Simon Monk said...

I'm quite happy to have someone else do the surface mount stuff. And I think for the beginner, it would just end in soldery blobby frustration!

fatmi said...

I am a beginner student of electronics engineering, so any thing i found regarding my career it helps me very much.

what is arduino

shields for arduino said...

We have a new screw shield and would love to get a review of it. Email arduinoshields@gmail.com for more info.