Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to add a breadboard to an Adafruit/Sainsmart Motorshield

Adafruit Motorshield Breadboard Area
If you have ever added an Adafruit/Sainsmart L293 Motorshield to and Arduino, then you know that it leaves very few options for easy connection of sensors and other devices. There is a small connection area on the board to connect to Analog pins A0 to A5, but you have to solder to the connections if you use them. I decided to make this a small breadboard area instead, so that you could plug your connections in, for ease in upgrading and changing circuits.

SainSmart L293D Motor Drive Shield For Arduino

The motorshield is not a stackable shield for good reason. It uses almost all the pins on the shield to control motor and servos and it gets tricky to pick which ones are not being used. When your hooking up wires to your motorshield you will usually have to either solder the wires to a pin on the outer area of the motorshield or to the small breadboard Pins A0 through A5 are all analog, but fortunately you can also use them as digital input pins as well.

Adafruit Stackable Header Kit
The items needed are pretty small. You need to order the Adafruit stacking  header pin kit found here.
Arduino Stackable Header Kit
You will also need a soldering iron and solder and that is it.

Cutting Down the Headers
The Adafruit kit comes with 2 six pin headers and 2 eight pin headers. For this to work you will have to cut down one of the 8 pin headers to
Cut down headers
make it a 6 pin header. You need a total of 3 six pin headers for this project. If your not comfortable modifying the headers, just order 2 kits and use them both. Do not however try to cut the headers with side cutters or scissors. The material is very hard and will shatter. Use a hack saw or a utility knife to cut them cleanly.

Pins Trimmed to 1/4"
Next we need to trim the pins down so that they don't interfere with the Arduino when the shield is installed. Plus it makes for a cleaner install. Trim them using side cutters to about 1/4" long. Once you have done all three done we are ready for installation.

Starting with the row of pins closest to the center
insert the first header and flip the board over and solder all the pins in place. Be careful not to run the solder between any pins causing a short. When your done insert the next row and repeat two more times. After your done your will now have a small breadboard area that you can use female jumper wires in to make your connections. Much easier than soldering wires in place.


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