Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Arduino Mega Connections Hat

So in an effort to try and make things a little more compact and try and eliminate a lot of the "Spaghetti Wires" scenario which is a little difficult when you have so many connections like this. I'm giving this idea a shot, it's basically an offshoot idea as to what you have seen in my previous posts with the Connections Proto-Board I had been experimenting with. It's basically all that just turned into an "Arduino Hat." The "Hat" is then connected to the Arduino using Header Pins instead of all of those loose flying "Spaghetti Wires." I mean I'll still have wires but they will be coming off of the "Hat" and then going into Molex Connectors.

I had a pretty easy time soldering in all the header pins to the piece of Proto-Board I had cut the the right size to fit on top of the Arduino until I got to the last row of pins. As it turns out on my Arduino the one row of female sockets closest to the USB connector was offset by just half a hole spacing on the Proto-Board so when I got to it I thought: 
"Oh great! Now what am I going to do?"
 Luckily I came up with a solution. I used a very fine bit on my Dremel to drill tiny holes between the existing holes on the Proto-Board and then used another fine bitt to grind off the copper solder pads around the holes. I then soldered on the header pins into the newly drilled holes and uses fine wire clipping from component wires to run the solder to the "offset" holes in the next line. I used my Multi-Meter to make sure there were no shorts as it was a tricky soldering job that anyone following hopefully will NOT have to contend with. I was just unlucky enough to get an Arduino that had this slight manufacturing flaw. Either that of maybe it fits the factory made "Proto-Shield Hats" better?? I guess I'll find out when the two I ordered off eBay finally arrive ;) In any event I was able to work around it and create my own "Proto-Shield Hat" that I can solder my Optocouplers, Resistors and Jumper Wires on too.

Here is a diagram work in progress of what I am working towards with this idea.
I soldered in the Optocouplers and the 10K Resistor for the LDR Sensor. You can see here in these two photos that it was a pretty delicate job but just took some patience. lol I don't think the six cups of coffee helped much for having a steady hand so I had to brace my hand against my work bench just to keep it stable ;)

I may need to solder in a couple more Optocouplers as I may need them for screen transition requests via a Switch Pod button or some other button. I have the room on the "Hat" I'm making so a little forethought in that area might be handy ;) The Optocouplers currently on the "Hat" are for the Left & Right Turn Signal indicators in the Knight O.S. interface. 2 others are for Forward & Backwards direction indicators (Currently not set up), One is for the Manual Override Screen Request, and the other is for one of the Environment Scan Screen Requests. The Optocouplers take either a 12V Positive or Ground to trigger a 5V ground on the Arduino and are completely isolated from the 5V Arduino.