SparkFun ProtoShield Kit

Riding on the waves of the very popular Arduino USB board is this small prototyping shield. Originally spawned with collaboration between the folks at SFE and ITP @ NYU, the ProtoShield mates with the Arduino USB board and gives the user a small soldering area, two general LEDs, access to a BlueSMiRF socket, a general pushbutton switch, and most important of all - the Arduino reset switch is brought to the top level. A ProtoShield quickstart guide is available!

This comes in kit form and must be soldered together by the end user. Please note - we do not ship assembly instructions, but you can find a big, clean photographed assembly guide here! There are a few tutorials on assembly listed below. All soldering is through-hole (relatively easy) but always check your component orientation before soldering!

The kit is pictured with the bread-board option. We highly recommend this breadboard! See the related items below for all the colorful options of breadboards you have.

Note: The SparkFun ProtoShield Kit does not include the holes for the Uno R3 SDA and SCL.

  • All Arduino pins are brought to the top level
  • 5V, GND, and Vin pins are exposed as well
  • BlueSMiRF socket for wireless communication between Arduinos
  • 2 general use LEDs
  • 1 general use button
  • Reset button brought to top level

SparkFun ProtoShield Kit Product Help and Resources

Core Skill: Soldering

This skill defines how difficult the soldering is on a particular product. It might be a couple simple solder joints, or require special reflow tools.

2 Soldering

Skill Level: Rookie - The number of pins increases, and you will have to determine polarity of components and some of the components might be a bit trickier or close together. You might need solder wick or flux.
See all skill levels

Core Skill: Electrical Prototyping

If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.

2 Electrical Prototyping

Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
See all skill levels


Looking for answers to technical questions?

We welcome your comments and suggestions below. However, if you are looking for solutions to technical questions please see our Technical Assistance page.

  • Doctor Who / about 7 years ago / 2

    I see that both this one selected, and the older, retired, retail design contain amber LED devices. Any problem with my swapping them for red and green ones, same style? All of my ideas request those colors instead of the amber ones.

    • You should be fine to replace the red LEDs with any color LED you'd like. The current limiting resistors with 5V input will work with any color (yellow, blue, green, etc). There's a remote issue if your GPIO is 3.3V and you use an LED with a high voltage drop but as long as you're using a normal Arduino Uno (and not a micro that's 3.3V or 1.8V) you'll be fine.

  • Wayne / about 16 years ago / 8

    Please consider offering just the bare board. I have the kit, but there are several adapters I'd like to build that don't require the othe bundled components. I considered the LadyAdy board, but I prefer the open pad config of your board.

    • SomeGuy123 / about 13 years ago * / 1

      Also, they should have broken out the pins to fix the odd gap between the right side digital headers.

  • Mark Fischer / about 15 years ago / 7

    Second vote for offering the bare board. I bought the kit already, and its great for prototyping, but when you want to make something a bit more permanent, I'd love something with just the components you need.

  • mct75 / about 15 years ago / 6

    Strike another one for the board-only option. I'd like to either solder it to the underside of a Pro board, or use stacking headers to have it sandwiched.

  • PickledDog / about 11 years ago / 5

    This just made my day. Whoever packed these arranged the parts onto the foam in the shape of a space invader! You rock!

    • exHomunculus / about 10 years ago / 2

      Yes. I just noticed this as well. I hope you guys are around forever. This is just the kind of geeky touch that has made me a customer for life!

  • bdodds / about 14 years ago / 4

    One other thing would be to shift everything over just a bit so that the board doesn't sit on top of the Arduino USB port and try to short S2.

    • msheldon / about 11 years ago / 2

      Three years later, same problem. The board interferes with the USB and 9v ports on the Arduino Uno, and the metal casing on the USB port shorts S2. I like the simplicity of this board, but I would not buy it until this is fixed.

    • senojsitruc / about 11 years ago / 1

      I tried this board with three different Arduinos (Uno, Duemilanove, Mega), and the only way it "works" is to prop it up on the USB and DC jacks; and even then it's not exactly what I'd call a good fit. Would not buy again....

  • So here's YAR (Yet Another thought I was a pirate, didn't you?) for being able to purchase just the protoboard without the extra kit. Oh, and maybe paint some flowers on it and partner with Celestial Seasonings to send them out in scented cach?s. I have lots of other great ideas, too! :)
    But seriously, being able to purchase the bare board by itself would be a very awesome thing.

  • Not a bad board, there have been some good comments here with regards to possible improvements. Have documented my one here:

  • Member #427283 / about 11 years ago / 2

    This doesn't fit on the Arduino Uno. The USB connector prevents the shield from sitting evenly on the Arduino, making some of the connections bad. Not a good product. I wouldn't recommend buying this.

    • Mike Harris / about 10 years ago * / 2

      I agree here. I got a couple of these shields to sit on top of an Arduino Uno Rev3, Ethernet Shield, and an Arduino Yun. This proto shield doesn't fit on any of them. On the Arduino Uno it makes contact with the USB-B port. On the Yun and Ethernet shield, it makes contact with the ethernet port. On the Yun it also makes contact with the USB-A port. I received v2 of the protoshield. This is a significant flaw in my opinion with regard to the design of the board. I would have expected someone to have noticed with v1, that the board will not seat on these Arduinos. With the Yun, it begins to make contact just as you set the male header pins into the female pins of the Yun. You can not seat the shield.

      EDIT: (SOLVED) I inserted an additional set of stackable headers (PRT-11417) between the Arduino Board and the ProtoShield Kit!

  • The Doctor Doge / about 11 years ago / 2

    What are the caps for?

  • Member #437671 / about 11 years ago / 2

    My Arduino UNO R3 has a different pin out (6, 8, 8, 10), while this has 6, 6, 8, 8. I'm confused. Is there a different proto shield that I should be looking at? If there is I don't see it.

    • No, you're looking at the right one. Our proto shield just doesn't break out the additional SDA and SCL pins. You can read more about this revision here. The protoshield will still work for you though.

  • lImbus / about 12 years ago / 2

    any plans to have a Leonardo version of this item ?

    • Member #506570 / about 10 years ago / 1

      Try the TransmogriShield shield, DEV-11469... Not as big I suppose, but still an option.

  • MrSkippy / about 12 years ago / 2

    I used this shield with two 7-segments and two shift registers, it will just fit, but to connect all the wires to connect everything on the bottom side is quit tricky. You can see the shield in action in this project: an Olympic Medal Tracker

    Nice little shield, the open pad configuration is ideal, only downside is that the USB connector of the Arduino Uno gets in the way when inserting the board on top of it.

  • ardurante / about 13 years ago / 2

    Does this shield currently support the Arduino UNO R3?

  • LuckyJack / about 14 years ago / 2

    Are these boards size compatible with the Arduino Uno? That is, do the output pins line up correctly?

    • bluewraith / about 14 years ago / 2

      Yes. You will still have to add a small bit of electrical tape to the top of the USB header to prevent the switch from shorting out though.

  • erk1313 / about 14 years ago / 2

    I love the idea of the shield, but a bummer these don't come with a bus for mounting DIP chips and the like without creative soldering.

  • johngineer / about 15 years ago / 2

    Another request to offer this as a bare board (with male header pins to couple to Arduino)
    As others have said the full kit is great for prototyping, but once you have a final design and you'd like to hardwire it you either have to desolder the headers or buy another full kit. The cost savings of one board would not be much, but if you're producing several copies it adds up quickly.
    Also it would be cool if the Eagle files (brd and sch) were available for this board, to use as a starting point for creating custom shields.
    Keep up the good work, SFE!

  • CHaskins / about 15 years ago / 2

    I see that there's 5v and gnd lines on the outside of the protoshield, would it be possible to move the female headers closer to the male pins and move the 5v and gnd lines where the female headers are so they are still exposed when using the mini breadboard?

  • WyoJustin / about 15 years ago / 2

    Great board. I just got it together. Bob Gallup's tutorial was very detailed with great pictures. It looks like the board has been updated since then however. The big difference is now you need two 6 pin male headers not a six and a four.

  • rsbohn / about 18 years ago / 2

    Simple to assemble. See the photos at
    Now to build something on it!

  • Member #622774 / about 10 years ago / 1

    When you need tape to prevent short cut, its a clear signal that the design of the board is not optimized. If Sparkfun would have placed the (unnecessary) additional components at the other end of the board, there would have been no problem at all...

  • Member #565537 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Negs if using with the Redboard:

    • Bumps up against the DC barrel jack. Leading to wobble (like a chair with a short leg).
    • Because it can't sit flush, you can pin through the six ISP pins.
    • The current mini breadboard is slightly longer, covering the ISP pins anyway.

    I recommend only soldering what you need. I didn't solder anything. The headers fit snugly. God bless you if you solder all of the header pins.

  • Member #146820 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Are the header tails long enough that they plug in ALL THE WAY without the PCB running into the USB header?

    I have a proto shield from Makershed that uses too-short tails, caused intermittent connection wasted a bunch of my time

  • LED addict / about 10 years ago / 1

    I notice this has a couple of mounting holes right above mounting holes on the arduino, that gap wouldn't happen to be the right length for a standoff would it?

  • The Doctor Doge / about 11 years ago / 1

    It's actually cheaper if you buy just the parts

  • You should make a version for people who own the Arduino Leonardo and we would finally have very easy access to the I2C pins.

  • Member #404241 / about 11 years ago / 1

    If I want to order this WITH breadboard, what do I order??

  • Member #341341 / about 12 years ago / 1

    How much current can be drawn from this board, on the ground and 5 volt rails? Are they capable of 4 amps?

  • Doov / about 12 years ago / 1

    It would be nice if you guys added a cap on at least the push button that's pulled high so that it's debounced. Additionally a tristate buffer with enable pulled low on the tx line of the bluesmirf would be nice so that you can actually program the arduino with the bluesmirf attached.

    • stevenvh17 / about 9 years ago / 2

      You add add a capacitor on the breadboarding area. But debouncing in software is free! Zero additional components required.

  • Member #103692 / about 12 years ago / 1

    I'm going to buy this since I'm buying a bunch of other stuff from SparkFun and I don't want to wait a week for shipping from Australia or deal with Freetronics' two US distributors. That said, Freetronics Protoshield Pro ( looks enough larger that I wish I could get it instead. I also prefer the Freetronics version because there's nothing in the way to make it difficult to hang components off the end. SparkFun, please consider stocking Freetronics in the future and/or redesigning your protoboard to be better.

  • WemblyTinkerer / about 12 years ago / 1

    The thing I like about this board is that you just put on the parts you need. Leave off or change the rest. The little green protoboard example in the item pictures is just a beginning...

  • brianb000 / about 12 years ago / 1

    I assume I can stack one or more unloaded boards below a fully populated board with the Arduino at the bottom of the stack with no interference ? Thus there will only be on set of LED's and one set of switch's . The lower layers in the stack to be used for additional sensors ?



  • Member #123727 / about 12 years ago / 1

    Wonderful little product. How about setting up pass thru headers on the icsp pins. I wanted to use mine with an Ethernet shield and because of the size of the ethernet shield, this has to go in the middle. The Ethernet shield requires the ICSP pins and even though the holes are there, there aren't any pass thru headers for it. Other than that, great little product.

  • boj / about 12 years ago / 1

    Not to advertise or anything, but i think that you guys should carry this Protoshield instead. It's much better and it's only downfall is that it can't be stacked with other shields (well, it has to be on the top). Don't get me wrong, I love SFE, but it's a good product.

    • Richiep / about 12 years ago / 1

      Yeah I agree the adafruit version offers more possibilities. And yes, much love to Spark Fun!

  • ardurante / about 13 years ago / 1

    Hopefully, in the future, I think SparkFun should move the 5V and GND rails just a little bit (approximately the size of one of the holes) left and right so that it will be mini-breadboard friendly. With the mini-breadboard on, it covers those many 5V and GND rails, and it is very inconvenient to have only one 5V pin when you are prototyping. I hope SparkFun implements this into v3.

    • SomeGuy123 / about 13 years ago / 1

      There isn't very much space on the board to move them to. They would have to expand the entire board.

  • Member #225354 / about 13 years ago / 1

    I have a small question,
    What is the capacitors part in this board ?
    Why is it there ?

  • Tweeks / about 13 years ago / 1

    Hey SparkFun:
    I'm an experienced EE, and I really love you guys.. I have ordered the Arduino Proto Board from you in the past, but recently thought a mistake had been made when I ordered two more proto boards and they were missing the necessary male header pins for properly mating into the arduino:
    The single, inline ones that you all now provide and recommend people solder in, and then also use to mate to the arduino is a re-design flaw. That gauge pin was designed for soldering into a via, and NOT for insertion and removal into headers and solder-less bread boards. As others on your proto shield feedback have indicated.. using these headers like this results in bent pins and substandard connections.
    The thing that troubles me is that this is not a new-design flaw. It HAD the correct header pins included in the past.. and you recently decided to remove them (which leaves one wondering if it was not done for cost reasons.. not that these headers cost more than a few cents).
    I hope you all will fix this design flaw...

  • SD / about 13 years ago / 1

    I received my ProtoShield yesterday and built it today. This is my first big soldering project and I decided to just dive right in. It went rather well. I attached it to my Arduino UNO and wired it up and uploaded a sketch to get both LEDs blinking and everything works. My soldering for a first timer is a wee bit sloppy but it was fun and a great kit to start soldering with. This has been a good confidence builder. Great kit.

  • I just bought the FEZ Panda and this ProtoShield. Love both and have had zero problems and had no missing pieces. Thanks, SparkFun. As a software engineer, I'm just getting into electronics and now wondering why I ever majored in computer science when EE is so much more interesting!

  • Demolishun / about 13 years ago / 1

    This shield is nice. I got mine wired up last night. I made some changes. Instead of the yellow leds that came with it I put in high brightness SMD leds. I also added a mini breadboard and put pins in the led and switch connections for easy breadboarding.
    The change I made that I think will help many people is the spacers I made so you cannot push the board down too far. I was trying to figure out how to do that without having to fab them or get too exotic. Then I realized the cheapo sockets you can get from Radio Shaft or Sparkfun are perfect for this.
    What you do is push the pins out from the bottom. Cut pieces that contain two sockets (have to sacrifice a 3rd to cut it). Then removed any raised bumps or edges to square it out. Make four of these. Then you slip these over each of the corner two pins of the proto shield. You may need to tack the bottom of these to the proto board with a bit of super glue. Now when you go to put these in the Arduino board you cannot push it down further than these spacers allow. Enjoy! :)

  • jmerc / about 14 years ago / 1

    I received the protoshield, but noticed that the USB connector gets in the way of inserting the board. I am trying to use it with an Arduino Uno. Was this shield designed for another type of Arduino? Both the power socket and USB connector prevent the protoshield from going all the way into the sockets. Any suggestions?

    • press5 / about 14 years ago / 2

      is there any reason why you couldn't use four more PRT-09280's to increase vertical clearance between your arduino and the shield? :)

  • johndy / about 14 years ago / 1

    WTH sparkfun so much for a kit you shorted me a 10k and a 330 resistor not a big deal(I have extras) but still is it that hard to count resistors

  • bdodds / about 14 years ago / 1

    I just got this kit today and found a couple of things right away that could make it better.
    First is a hinderance to using with the mini breadboard installed. The two rows of holes for GND and 5V get covered up so I can't add female headers to use with the breadboard. I end up needing to use two rows of the breadboard and jumpers to get more than one 5v or 3 GND pins...
    It would be nice to have some holes for 5 pin female headers at the end of the breadboard next to 6pin ICSP header for 5V and GND. (Like the ugly green adafruit board has. I love the red color of the SparkFun Boards. :) )
    Second, I agree with @johngineer that the 3 single pin holes for the two LEDs and Switch 2 should be grouped next to each other so we can use a single 3 pin female header instead of 3 single pin headers. To get 3 single female headers, I had to sacrifice 3 other pins!

  • Sciguy / about 14 years ago / 1

    I preferred the older version, with the male headers and the female ones on the inner part of the board.
    One, the stackable female headers are a bit flimsy IMO compared to the male ones, and they bend easily when removing the shield.
    Also, before, the female headers were right next to the breadboard, which was handy.
    True, the old version was not stackable, but it also made more sense when used with the breadboard.
    Solution: allow customers to buy the PCB only, that way, the can do whatever they want.

    • S.F.E._Rocks!!! / about 13 years ago / 1

      i had the same problems. i dont know if this is the 1, but u can buy a shield just like the one u described

  • l0ne / about 15 years ago / 1

    This board is convenient for prototyping but it has errors!
    The analog inputs are numbered backwards from the arduino (NG & diecimila at least)!! You can go mad wondering why your sensors seem to be floating (they are - look under the shield at the real thing to get your terminal #'s right)
    Also, the S2 button is not pulled down properly. It's on the PCB as Junction - resistor - switch - ground. Oops, unusable!
    So the shield - good idea and all that, but whoever QA'd it needs to be let go!

    • Hi Lone - Sorry about the mislabeled analog inputs! However the board has been fixed since late 2008. I don't believe the S2 switch was ever a problem. There's a 10k pull-up (optional, you can use internal pullups) and the switch grounds out the JC1 connection whenever the button is pressed.
      And I laidout and QA'd the board. :) You can't let me go!

      • esklar81 / about 14 years ago / 2

        With all due respect to your superhuman powers, "I laidout and QA'd the board." strikes me as a variation on the theme of "Danger, Will Robinson".
        It's not just that I like to have work (I'm a safety engineer) so I can buy toys from you, I really believe that the pair of eyes that was used to design or write something is fundamentally disqualified from reviewing it.

  • kitep / about 15 years ago / 1

    There are 3 single male pins, one each for the two LEDs, and one for the button. Wouldn't it be better to make these female pins? That way you can just stick a wire in there like you do with the breadboard, rather than having to attach a wire with an alligator clip.

  • njuk-njuk / about 15 years ago / 1

    Bob Gallup's very helpful (though slightly out-of-date w/the latest shield) "assembly instructions" demonstrate soldering single pins for jumpers 1-3; however, i noted on the close-up images of the ProtoShield on SparkFun there are no such pins shown.

  • blink4jona / about 15 years ago / 1

    great kit for the arduino noob. mine came in a sharp red color too. just a note, I blindly followed the tutorial from the link and broke up the header pins before I realized the new board has two 6 pin instead of one 4 and one 6. Still there's enough extra pins and I have bag of these things anyway.
    one weird thing though. The leads from the switch S2 contact the USB receptable on the arduino board. the tutorial points this out and recommends electrical tape to prevent a short. Seems like something that could be avoided in the design. if you take the shield off and on or it is anywhere it might be compressed you can be sure the sharp pins from S2 will go through electrical tape and short. I am looking for some kind of potting material or epoxy to ensure no short.

  • johngineer / about 15 years ago / 1

    Just completed assembly. Easy to put together and a good layout. My only suggestion would be to put the switch and two LED terminals next to each other, where the user could put an optional 3-pin female connector. This would make it easier to connect to these from the breadboard.

Customer Reviews

4 out of 5

Based on 12 ratings:

Currently viewing all customer reviews.

1 of 1 found this helpful:

Pretty Solid Product.

Soldering was easy. Component layout was clear. Fit perfect for the Arduino Uno.

3 of 3 found this helpful:

Does the job and more

A complete kit (minus an ICSP header, but that is disclosed). My only word of caution is that the terminals on the auxiliary switch can be incredibly close to the USB plug; these are the switched side of the terminals rather than the grounded side. A little tape over the USB connector provides an appropriate level of safety.

1 of 1 found this helpful:

top notch

The quality of this board is superb. I've re-soldered a few connections many times now, and the PTH is still solid. For the things I am prototyping, this board has the perfect layout and a great set of features.

1 of 1 found this helpful:

Great stuff!

This shield goes together very easily, and the instructions (in the link on the product page) were very easy to understand and fast to follow. I added the small bread board to the top and everything is in one place and clean. Price is great, shipping was great, the product is great. I'll more than likely get at least one more very soon.

1 of 1 found this helpful:

It's a protoshield, but it's not a prototype

Kit arrived with everything, assembly was really easy even without looking at the tutorial or at a completed unit.

My two complains, the soldering rings are relatively small (makes it challenging with a large wedge tip) and compared to an Arduino shield the pin headers are SUPER thin, I bend them every time I pull them out of the Arduino board.. I made a breakout board for a LCD/GPS unit, it turned out nicely!

5 of 7 found this helpful:

Not the right size; good component

So I'm no pro at designing with Arduino's or anything so maybe my opinion is weighed less. Anyways, I found the soldering easy (I'm a beginner at it) and I received the board fairly quick. Once I finished soldering my pieces I discovered that the shield does not fit the Arduino R3, or at least it does not compensate for the extra pins (i.e. SDA, SCL). I really needed it to cover all pins, because two of the pins left out - those pins being SDA and SCL - I actually need for my project. Overall, good piece of equipment, but I needed the description to state something about the fact that it does not accommodate for all of the R3 pins.

1 of 2 found this helpful:

Improvement required

The board is small for the amount of components I have to add to the Arduino to complete the circuit (27 total). I epoxied another board to it to fit the components I could not get on the ProtoShield. If a larger board were available I would have ordered it to begin with since I knew that I would be adding substantial additional components to make the system work.

I have a second project in mind that will also require added board space.

I hope that this suggestion is taken seriously and a larger board is soon available.

Worked like a charm

Not too shabby! Will be buying few more.

Nice protoboard

Well built and designed I've used this board for multiple projects with great success. My only issue is with the BlueSMiRF header. Having the Bluetooth communication connected to D0 and D1 causes issues if you want use both Bluetooth and Serial communications separately (I use serial as a debug port, Bluetooth for application communication to a tablet for instance). Having Bluetooth on pins D2 and D3 would have been much more better and flexible for me (and not interfere with downloading programs too).

0 of 1 found this helpful:

Bad Solder Pads

The solder pads are so small that when soldering it melts the PCB.

Sorry, solder skills vary from person to person. Also, the soldering iron you use can make a big difference in the effort it takes to solder and the success you find. There should be no problems with the pads or PCBs when properly soldered.


Handy prototyping kit with all bits'n pieces. Can't find shield fulfilling your needs? Build it!


The prongs on the headers are flimsy, the LED's were too big and shipping was slow.