Friday, July 24, 2009

Brief comparison between SD card shields

Before I started the Wise4Sure project, which uses SD card, I did some research on a few SD card shields available commercially. This post is a summary of my findings.

I looked at three SD card shields: one from Libelium (US$28), one from Seeedstudio (US$15) and Wave shield from Adafruit (US$22, although this is more than an SD card shield).

The similarities are:
  • all SD cards require 3.3V;
  • all connect to the SPI port (pins 10-13);
  • they all need a voltage divider (2 resistors x 3 signals) to adapt between the 5V level from Arduino and 3.3V level of the SD card;
These are the particularities:
  • Libelium's small form factor shield comes assembled (SMD components) and tested, and includes a microSD card. It offers the nice feature of plugging the shield to either pins 8-13 (power is extracted from pin 8, set as high) or to the ICSP connector. It is not stackable (no more shields on top of it). It makes its own 3.3V from an onboard regulator.
  • Seeedstudio's also small form factor comes assembled and tested. It accepts both SD and microSD, manually selectable through a switch. 3.3V comes from Arduino. It is also not stackable.
  • Adafruit's Wave shield is a full size shield, designed to play wave files from the SD card. It comes as a kit, with through-hole components and clear assembling instructions. It has a powerful (100mA) 3.3V regulator on board and it is stackable. After interfacing with Wave shield, only pins 6 to 9 are left available for other use.
In my pre-prototype of Wise4Sure I used the Wave shield, since it was the only SD card shield I had. The integration went seemlessly, everything worked from the start.


  1. Check out
    It has a built in level converter and a 3.3V reg.

  2. Thanks, that is a good link. And the price is not bad either. Did you try it?

    I already started building the Wise4Sure prototype board, soldering the push-push SD card socket and the 6 resistors. I also purchased the 3V3 regulator. Lots of work and not much $ saving.

  3. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.