Hardware

For 2017 and 2018, we have based the Biomaker Starter Kits and Tutorial Hardware on the Gtronics Protoshield Plus, used as a base for Arduino development. The Protoshield Plus has a number of attractive features:

The Gtronics Protoshield Plus works with a wide variety of ARDUINO / GENUINO boards: UNO, LEONARDO, YÚN, NANO, MICRO and MINI.
It has a LCD 1602 display module with I2C PCF8574 I/O expander provided on-board (drive LCD with just 2 pins);
5 pushbuttons and a reset button are provided on-board;
2 solderless bread-boarding areas 740 contact points each (total 1480 points);
More than 400 soldering pads for additional prototyping parts;
IN / OUT / POWER pins duplicated near the bread-boarding area for easy connection;
2 Output LEDs and 1 potentiometer with knob provided on-board
Wired sockets for a servo connection, an external 7-9VDC power supply, and additional ICSP connector to use NANO and MICRO with standard shields, and additional holes let you to create shields with standard 2.54mm breadboards.

We have explored the use of multifunction shields to simplify the training session - to minimise fiddly and error-prone wiring during the sessions. The use of these shields can introduce clashes between their devices and elements on the Protoshield Plus. Details of the ports used by the Protoshield Plus and various multifunction shields are shown below.  

PinoutComparison2.jpg
ShieldComparisons.jpg

Shown above: Keyestudio Multi-Function shield V2 (£7.50), HAILANGNIAO Multi-Function shield V2 (£1.40), Open-Smart  RTC shield (£8.00) and Keyestudio Multi-purpose shield V1 (£7.50). Each shield bears a range of components accessing a variety of Arduino ports (listed above. Some of these clash with ports already used on the Protoshield Plus. Happily, it is simple to rewire the ports. We suggest making the following changes to the default settings of the board. 


Modification of the Protoshield Plus

The Gtronics Protoshield Plus board provides a very flexible platform for prototyping new circuits. It includes a number of components that connect to digital and analogue ports on any Arduino board that is plugged into the Protoshield Plus. In order to use the Protoshield Plus with third party shields loaded with additional components, it can be necessary to unplug or rewire components to avoid post clashes. The table below shows the ports used on the Protoshield Plus - along with a comparison of ports used by a number of multifunction shields. 

Protoshield_buttons.jpg
Protoshield_LEDs.jpg
Protoshield_pot.jpg

Rewiring

The Protoshield Plus manual is excellent, and provides the instructions for cutting traces to allow rewiring of port connections. 

We suggest disconnecting the push button array from port A0, disconnecting the green and red LEDs from ports D11 and D12, and disconnecting the potentiometer (variable resistor) from port A1. PCB pins can be soldered to pads next to the cut traces. This allows the components to be connected to new ports using leads with female-male connectors - to avoid clashes with operation of ports on attached shields. 

The default settings for the Protoshield Plus allow the use of the LCD display with an Arduino UNO compatible board as an I2C device on port 0x20 (decimal 32). The LCD display works well with the XOD/common-hardware node "text-lcd-16x2-i2c"