Danger Shield

Danger Shield
Danger Shield components. Reminds me of pulling toys to pieces as a child.

Now that I’m on break from uni (at least in the sense of official classes), I’ve had a chance to sit down with my Ardunio, a new soldering iron and the unbuilt Danger Shield. Aside from some basic cable-fixing during a previous life as a roadie, my soldering knowledge is nil and I was definitely apprehensive about poking a hot bit of metal around electronics components.

With the help of Zach Hoeken’s walkthrough (the maker of the original Danger Shield. Note that this model is slightly different from the SparkFun version I have), it all went fairly smoothly – if a little slow. With the exception of putting grounding pins in the wrong position – and the painful process of de-soldering – everything worked as it should and I now have a bunch of sensors and inputs to take readings of all kinds.

Clips and a magnifying glass make working with solder much easier.
Headers and resistors soldered in place.

Before trying my hand at soldering components, I went through some basic tutorials by SparkFun and Curious Inventor. They both have some good tips for anyone that hasn’t used a soldering iron before and are definitely worth a look.

Another video tutorial I look at after I soldered the buzzer and knock sensor in back-to-front, was a rundown on how to remove solder with a pump. For anyone new to this, the video makes it look easier than it is, and my advice is to check twice and solder once. It’ll save you from a few tantrums.

Just before soldering components incorrectly.
The completed Danger Shield, powered by Arduino (underneath).

Hissy-fits aside, it all came together in the end and was a good process to start getting an understanding for how electronics components fit onto a board. I used SparkFun’s example code to test that all components were functioning, and with the exception of the knock sensor (which I may have damaged during the de-soldering), all gave readings through Arduino’s serial monitor. But I still need to get meaningful data from the unit…

Whilst it’s not quite up and running yet, I have been spending some time with a couple of tutorials which are sending me in the right direction (I hope). John Boxall has some good Arduino tutorials for beginners, whilst the ultimate goal of connecting the Danger Shield to Pachube is fairly thoroughly covered here. For now, this project may have to go on hold though, as we’re getting into the Underbelly Arts lab in just a couple of days time. More on that shortly…

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