Shield Evolution – Flexible Add-ons for Arduino

Shield Evolution

Here at Seeed Studio, we’ve have been working hard to design and build the coolest open source hardware, so that you can create some pretty awesome projects. Arduino shields have been a major focus for us, because of their ability to add some amazing functionality to the easy to use platform of Arduino. But what is an Arduino shield? Briefly, a shield is a board that mounts on top of an Arduino, to give it extended capabilities. They come in all different flavors, from music shields to GPRS shields, with such a wide range available that you can achieve literally anything with them! Who’d have thought you’d ever be able to make phone calls, build touch interfaces, or even control electro-luminescent displays with an Arduino? Arduino shields are the basis for achieving all this, and more!

As an example, here is a demo video of one of our shield collection: the application of EL Shield.


In this article, we’re going to take a look at the awesome Arduino Shield Collection from Seeed Studio. We’ll take a look at some of the interesting shields on offer, and how they can help you build some incredible projects. So, let’s get started!

Usability and Sweet Design

The first thing you’ll notice about the shields is the beautiful boxes they’re packaged in.

This gorgeous design is consistent across the whole range, and really summarizes the kind of effort that we’ve put into designing these shields (believe it or not, they’re also great boxes for storing small components!)

However, it’s when you start using one of our Shields that you really start to appreciate the incredibly user friendly design. Let’s take a look at some examples.

●   Controlling EL (Electro-Luminescent) displays can be difficult, requiring many inverters to power it, and a whole lot of soldering. So we designed a shield to do all of this, the EL Shield. This shield has all the required hardware to regulate and control up to four EL displays very easily. It’s amazing how much easier and less daunting this shield can make EL displays, enabling any beginner to harness the amazing results.

●   Dealing with network communications can be a difficult, if not frustrating task at best. So at Seeed we’ve developed the Wifi Shield that interfaces with the Arduino using only two connections! That’s a major simplification that makes the whole process of network communication a doddle!

●   And what about powering your Arduino. There’s about as many options as there are stars in the sky, so we’ve designed the Energy Shield to safely accept and interface multiple different sources to the Arduino using intelligent power regulation circuitry. This kind of design really expands on the versatility of the Arduino platform, giving you so much more flexibility. The shield can even accommodate charging mobile phone batteries!

Shields from Seeed Studio

We’ve also worked very hard on the physical design of the shields. Each shield now has exactly the same footprint, which guarantees mechanical compatibility. In other words, there’s no need to worry about fitting any combination of the shields in any custom chassis because they all share a standardized design. It’s this kind of design that allows you to focus on your project, rather than getting bogged down by mechanical issues!

Powerful Circuit Design

It’s not just usability and design of our shields that make them a great choice for any Arduino project. It’s also the fact that we’ve spent a lot of time designing the most optimum and efficient circuits. Most of the shields have had improvements made to ensure lower power requirements and less heat dissipation, but let’s take a look at two shields in particular.

 ●  The TFT Touch Shield is a gorgeous shield that provides a full color 2.8 inch touch screen module to be controlled with an Arduino. Previously this required an 8-pin interface, but with a bit of hard work, we’ve managed to shrink this down to 2 pins! With 2 pins you can now completely control a touch screen! It’s obvious what benefits this has, leaving so many pins open for other sensors or actuators.

It’s this kind of effort that really results in some amazing products, and means that you can build some really awesome projects. Let’s have a look at some of the improved critical features of the shields.

ShieldsImproved Critical Features

At Seeed, we believe the only way to create superior shields is to strive to constantly improve them! This kind of iterative design creates the most innovative products, with some of the coolest features and best specs out there. So what kinds of improvements have been made?  Well, here are two examples…

●   The Ethernet Shield is a great addition to any project, allowing you connect your Arduino to a network, but the first version had a limited buffer size and could only support four connections. So, by sourcing superior components, we released an upgraded version featuring a better networking module with double the buffer size for faster data transfer, and the ability to support up to eight simultaneous connections! You’ll certainly appreciate this when you’re looking to build a powerful network enabled device with an Arduino, and even in simpler projects you’ll see the difference!

●   Near field communication (NFC) is an amazing technology, and it’s behind things like wireless payments and e-posters. So we thought we’d design a shield to make the technology more accessible to an Arduino user! The NFC Shield lets you read, write and transmit data via NFC with an Arduino, but our first version used a fixed antenna. Our newest version now has a detachable antenna, so you can place it wherever you like. It also means you don’t need to go through the hassle of putting RFID tags or Cards in a custom enclosure; the shield is completely modular and so easy to use!

 Shield Evolution

Better documentation

It’s no good just providing a set of tools unless the support resources for them are strong. We know this all too well at Seeed Studio, so we’ve upgraded all our online documentation to provide easy-to-follow instructions for all of the shields. We’ve even provided whole sets of sample code for each shield. Let’s look at some examples…

●   We’ve written comprehensive documentation for GPRS shield, guiding you through making your first phone call and sending a text message! This means you’ll be able to use this shield, without having to spend ages looking through cryptic datasheets and command sets!

This kind of effort means that you’re guaranteed to get your shield working, regardless of how experienced you are. And it’s not just the hardware and documentation side of things that we’ve improved upon. We’ve written a whole host of code libraries to completely abstract and simplify so many of the complicated processes that are needed with each shield. Making calls, sending data, reading files, it’s all incredibly easy and achievable with a familiar interface!

We really feel we’ve done something special with our Shield Collection. No longer will there be a need to struggle when trying to achieve astounding things with Arduino. Our set of 17 beautifully designed shields provides a simple and standardized approach for everyone from beginners to veterans, to harnessing some fascinating technologies to use in your projects!

Stamp Promotion – Win a whole set of 17 brand new shields!

As part of our celebration of our shield evolution, we’re giving you the chance to win a whole set of 17 brand new shields. Here’s how it works.

With each shield sold, we will include a mini poster with a sticker on it. By collecting specified patterns of stickers, you can win the competition. This promotion lasts until April, 15, 2013. ! More details on the promotion please refer to the activity page !

17 Shields, any application!

So we’ve already seen some of the amazing features of our shield collection. Let’s take a brief look at each one in detail now. We can split our shields into four groups, Utilitarian Shields, Communication, Entertainment and Beginner.

Utilitarian Shields – Any shield that extends the utilities of the Arduino by adding better I/O capabilities or power management is included in this group.

The Base Shield

Base Shield

Modeled on our Grove platform for Arduino, the Base Shield extends the headers on the Arduino into a set of Grove connectors, allowing full compatibility with all Grove modules. This opens up a huge variety of I/O possibilities, in a neat and easy to use package!

The Energy Shield

Energy Shield

The energy shield gives so much flexibility when it comes to powering an Arduino project. It can accept a huge variety of power sources and interface them safely with your Arduino. It can also accept multiple sources at once and be used to charge mobile devices! Power options are now limitless!

The Motor Shield

motor shield

The motor shield provides the ideal interface between an Arduino and multiple motors, containing all necessary on-board regulation, switching circuitry, and even a self-healing fuse. Everything needed to protect your precious motors and provide easy control!

The Relay Shield

Relay Shield

To control high power devices, you need switches capable of dealing with that power. The relay shield provides four fully insulated and high power switches that are easily controllable via the Arduino meaning you can control most high power devices!

The Screw Shield

Screw shield

Sometimes you need the ability to easily have access to all the pins on the Arduino. The Screw Shield allows just that, by providing a screw terminal connection for each pin on the Arduino. It’s also fully stackable, so you can easily access pins and use them simultaneously!

The SD Card Shield

SD Card Shield

Memory storage can add so much to a project, so whether you’re logging data, or using the Arduino to stream it, this shield is the perfect choice! It’s compatible with SD, SDHC and MicroSD cards, and uses a simple SPI interface, leaving you with plenty of room for expansion!

CommunicationAny shield that sends or receives data is included in this group.

The NFC Shield

NFC Shield

The NFC shield allows you to harness the power of Near Field Communication, meaning you can create and program you own NFC tags and devices. Create a league of ID tagged robots, or even program your own e-poster, there’s so much you can do with this shield!

The Wifi Shield

WIFI Shield

This shield makes use of a powerful wireless networking module, adding a whole host of networking capabilities to the Arduino. This shield only requires a connection to the serial port on the Arduino, for ultimate networking ease. It’s also fully stackable, so there’s no limit to the expansion possibilities!

The GPRS Shield

GPRS Shield

The GPRS Shield gives the Arduino the ability to use the GSM/GPRS cell phone network to make and receive both calls and texts! The shield also features improved power efficiency and optimized antenna design!

The XBee Shield

X-bee Shield

Xbees can be notoriously difficult to interface with Arduino, so this shield provides a seamless connection between the two. All power regulation is taken care of, and even software serial ports can be used!

The CAN-Bus Shield

CAN-BUS shield

Entertainment – Any shield that involves user interface, display, or some form of funky lighting, falls into this group!

 

The E-Ink Shield

E-ink Display Shield

The E-Ink shield uses the technology of Electronic Paper (the same technology used in E-book readers) to create an ultra-low power and highly readable display for your Arduino. This display can even retain text without power being applied!

The EL Shield

EL shield

Electro-luminescence (EL) is a fascinating technology that can be harnessed to create dazzling light displays. The EL Shield provides an easy interface for the Arduino to control these displays, meaning you can create beautiful and dazzling displays!

The Music Shield

music Shield

By using a high spec Audio Codec chip, the Music shield can add great quality audio functionality to any Arduino. The shield can even support a wide range of music formats, and even includes an onboard SD Card slot for easily storing your tunes!

The TFT Touch Shield

TFT TOUCH Shield

Beginner – The world of Arduino can be daunting to those less experienced! Any shield that’s designed to ease a beginner into this world falls into this group. 

The Tick Tock ShieldTick Tock Shield

This shield starts as a kit, that a beginner can build to gain the basic skills needed for full on Arduino tinkering. The kit includes a variety of input and output components, a fully detailed soldering guide, and a Real-Time clock IC, allowing you to build your own digital clock once you’re more proficient!

The Shield Bot

Shield Bot

One of our newest shields, the Shield bot is a little different to the other’s we’ve seen. It’s basically a robot rover chassis that the Arduino plugs straight into! The Shield Bot has all the power regulation for easy battery integration, motor drive circuitry for easy motor control, and even built in IR sensors for line following. Thanks to the various ports, it’s also easy to add more functionality. This is such a great place to start for anyone interested in the world of robotics!

5 thoughts on “Shield Evolution – Flexible Add-ons for Arduino

  1. Loving the new look packaging guys and the fact that the shields are the same size is fantatstic. Will have to start saving up to but a set for our MakerSpace (-:

  2. Beautiful work. I’m scrolling through each of these thinking to myself – “oh oh oh, I want that one…and that one…and that one!”

    So many projects, so little time! Well done on the redesign work folks! Who said DIY can have a pretty marketplace?!

  3. Typo aside, I think the new packaging looks quite good! Your effort has paid off tremendously.

    And, I certainly wouldn’t mind at all; I will email Violet…


  4. Don:

    Do you know that the “Music Shield” packaging has a major typo on the front?

    Hi dear Don, thank you for reminding us:) Our photographer took the wrong box which was a prototype with a typo on it. In the process of designing the package, we’ve made great efforts to redesign and improve the package. We are so amazed by the community, in which everyone is so active and enthusiastic. Thank you so much for your suggestion which helps us become better and be able to provide better products and services back to the community. We really appreciate it! We would love to give you a new Music Shield as a method of the expression of our gratitude. Would you please contact [email protected] for the Music Shield? Thanks again:)

Comments are closed.

Calendar

February 2013
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728