Friday, February 12, 2010

Assembling the "Dual Bi-color LED matrix shield" kit

This kit contains the following parts:
  • PCB (compatible with Arduino shields);
  • two 8x8 bi-color bright LED matrices (side is 47mm or 1 7/8" in length, 5mm LEDs);
  • 4 x 74HC595 shift registers;
  • ULN2803 transistor array;
  • 4 x 16-pin IC socket;
  • 32 current-limiting resistors;
  • 4 x 100nF decoupling capacitors (color may vary);
  • 4 x 12-pin machined female headers;
  • 40-pin male header;
  • rotary encoder with push button and knob.

To assemble the kit, follow the step-by-step process below.
  1. insert the four 16-pin IC sockets, making sure that their notches match those in the silkscreen; their orientation is important (errors are not fatal though), since it will indicate the orientation of the ICs which will be later plugged into them; solder the sockets, making sure that they are close to (touching) the board;

  2. cut the 40-pin male header in 4 pieces, two 8-pin and two 6-pin, then solder them in their corresponding places; these are the pins which will plug into Arduino's (female) extension headers; as always with the shields, it is advisable to have them plugged into the Arduino extension connectors while soldering them to the shield;

  3. solder the four 12-pin female headers; these are the connectors for the LED matrices;

  4. solder each resistor after placing it vertically (bend one terminal 180 degrees);

  5. solder the decoupling capacitors;

  6. place the ULN2803 chip, paying attention to its orientation (notch on chip must match notch on silkscreen) and solder it;
  7. carefully insert the integrated circuits into their respective sockets, matching the notches (socket-chip); to make sure they can be inserted, bend the pins on both sides just a tad (as shown here, courtesy of adafruit), so they become parallel;

  8. insert the LED matrices, paying attention to their orientation: pin 1 of the matrix must match pin 1 on the board (the pin numbers are hand-written by me on the back).

    The assembled shield should look like the one below.

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