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The Ultimate Guide to Custom Arduino PCB: Top Types & Applications

The world of PCB manufacturing is extensive, encompassing a wide range of PCB types meticulously crafted to fulfill distinct functions. Since PCBs are the backbone of numerous electronic devices worldwide, their importance cannot be overstated. 

Custom Arduino PCB – What is it?

The purpose of an Arduino printed circuit board is to facilitate the creation of electronic projects by including microcontrollers and an IDE. As an open software platform, Arduino is increasingly becoming a preferred choice among novice enthusiasts in the electronics field. An advantageous feature of the Arduino is its ability to load code onto the board without additional hardware, as this can be accomplished with a simple USB cable. 

In addition, the IDE employed by Arduino utilizes a variant of C++, which significantly simplifies the learning of programming concepts. The common form factor an Arduino platform provides makes the microcontroller readily available in a user-friendly package.

Arduino software & hardware are for individuals inclined to create interactive objects. This platform is highly suitable for artists, designers, and novices and supports communication with diverse devices such as the internet, LEDs & GPS units. Due to its user-friendly nature, the Arduino software and hardware are comparatively easier to grasp. As a result, numerous users have devised instructions for various projects on Arduino. 

The Arduino finds its application in numerous fields, including robotics. Arduino circuit boards form the core of various electronics projects, making them an essential component in the field. Being a compact circuit board, the Arduino is an excellent choice for straightforward electronic projects. More projects can also be achievable by combining multiple Arduino boards. 

If you’re fed up with using a breadboard to assemble your circuits and want to connect Personalised circuits to the Arduino, it’s time to consider creating a Personalised Arduino shield. These boards share the Interboard connection and form factor of your preferred Arduino base circuit board while allowing you to govern several fundamental aspects of your shield board’s layout. Furthermore, you can even create these circuit boards adaptable if you desire, akin to the shield circuit board demonstrated previously.

If you are new to designing your Arduino shield circuit board, you can use the step-by-step instructions provided below. Alternatively, if you are interested in creating a personalized shield and want to familiarize yourself with printed circuit design software, consider downloading CircuitMaker – a free and user-friendly platform. In this article & upcoming ones, we will present various tutorials on utilizing Arduino & shield boards. These tutorials will cover a range of topics, including application development.

Starting Your Custom Arduino PCB

Although it may seem obvious, it’s easy to neglect the initial step when beginning the design of the Arduino shield circuit board: obtaining the structural dimensions of the shield & connector pinouts. While it may be tempting to dive straight into the layout process and begin creating schematics, it’s essential to obtain the linking pinouts early on to place connections on the correct pins in the layout properly. After completing the schematic capture & preparing to Ingest the layout into the blank printed circuit board layout, it’s necessary to ensure that the circuit board dimensions are set to match the thickness of an Arduino base circuit board

Arduino shields often come in different dimensions compared to the base circuit. Still, the crucial factor is ensuring the width is set to align with the necessary pins on the primary Arduino board. It’s ideal for covering the entire circuit board to ensure the shield’s stability when attached to a baseboard.

When you’re prepared to create the circuitry & diagrams for your circuit board, launch a circuit designer and begin incorporating your components. The most crucial components you’ll require are the Pin strips, which facilitate connecting your personalized Arduino shield and the Arduino board.

Pin Headers

Pin strips with a 2.54-millimeter pitch are typically useful for Arduino baseboards.

The pin header will act as an interface between the Arduino base board and your customized shield board. To choose the pin strip for the shield circuit board, you may opt for a male pin header with some pins on every side, enabling you to link pins with jumpers effortlessly. Another option is to use the downward-facing pin header displayed earlier, which connects to the board when the upward-facing holes accept axial element leads. With this version, you could stack another shield circuit board on top if desired.

After choosing the pin connector, it’s necessary to create or find schematic symbols that can be utilized for the pin header in the circuit designer. The symbol selected must correspond with the pinout of the Arduino board, and it’s important to monitor the side of the circuit board where each pin connecter will be positioned.

Put on Your Shield Board – Custom Arduino PCB


After identifying the base board and creating a layout plan, you can select the circuits & components to incorporate into the shield circuit board. Theoretically, any components can be added to the shield circuit board as they can be accommodated within the designated space. At my company, we have designed industrial shield circuits for Arduino that utilize relays and support 120-240 Alternating Current power, as well as simpler digital circuit boards with interfaces for multiple sensors. The potential for customization is boundless. A shield circuit board may incorporate various circuits and components, such as:

  1. Power: Would an outer power source (AC,12 V DC, 24 V DC) be required for the board, or could the devices require power by the 5 Voltage pin? It may be necessary to incorporate a regulator, such as a switching converter or LDO.
  2. Connectors: Screw connectors are a practical solution for establishing secure mechanical connections with outer wired devices. An alternative option is using pin strips on a shield circuit board to establish the connections.
  3. LEDs, buttons, and switches: LEDs are highly functional for serving as indicator lights, whether to display logical states or to indicate the status of toggle switches. Such circuits can activate logic states on General Purpose Input/Output or the circuits of your shield circuit board.
  4. Specialized ASICs: Numerous ASICs are available for diverse electrical operations. Integrating them into a personalized Arduino shield is a simple task as they typically establish a connection through SPI/I2C, and configuring them for your application is hassle-free.

To achieve a reconfigurable circuit board, you can incorporate a perf board with the hole array into your Arduino design. It emulates the functionality of a breadboard and grants you some degree of flexibility in the layout.

Custom Arduino PCB Perf Board Shields

Including a perf board part on the shield, the board provides a designated space where you solder personalized circuits featuring via components. These circuits can seamlessly interface with the other fixed boards on your shield board. Additionally, you can establish a connection between these circuits and the pin header, enabling them to directly link to the Microcontroller Unit on an Arduino base circuit board. The shield board contains a perf board section that facilitates the construction of customized circuits. You can utilize small-gauge jumpers to establish links between components in this section. 

What makes these boards intriguing is their ability to be easily reconfigured by removing components while allowing them to connect to the pin headers using wires. To ensure that via components are easily soldered, it is important to use through-holes with proper-sized pads. As seen in the image above, the hole spacing is too close together to directly solder pads. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the holes are big or a rail is present to allow wires to be available between an element pin & hole. 

Certain pre-packaged circuit boards come equipped with the ground plane. Similarly, you can incorporate this feature in your personalized Arduino shield. Doing so presents a chance to integrate functionality that typically requires an outer module, like Ethernet or wireless, into your design.

Other Types of Custom Arduino PCB Shields

Shield boards are frequently utilized in the applications:

  • Ethernet: Although it may be challenging for a novice designer, it is possible to create an Ethernet shield by utilizing a controller IC with an integrated PHY & mag jack RJ-45 adapter. A mag jack is an essential component as it combines the magnetics & termination circuits within the adapter body.
  • Sensor interface: The Arduino-compatible boards come equipped with amplifier boards or ASICs to enable communication with specialized sensors. In addition to operational amplifiers in DIP packages, these interfaces will typically consist of surface mount device (SMD) components, such as ASICs. They usually utilize protocols like SPI, GPIOs, and I2C/ADC interfaces. 
  • Wireless shield: These boards are designed to incorporate a wireless transceiver that utilizes a low-frequency protocol such as Zigbee, LoRa, or a BLE transceiver. The signals are typically directed into the transceiver controller through a bus module. To ensure signal integrity, it is recommended to follow the best practices for placing the ground plane or connecting the antenna
  • Displays: OLED displays should be utilized on the shield circuit board. These displays can be connected over SPI using a shrouded adaptor. To create compact equipment with the display, it is recommended to attach the display to the shield board to ensure its stability and then direct the connections to a pin strip

What Makes Up the Custom Arduino PCB?

The Arduino platform comprises several board variations, each designed for specific applications. Although these boards are for distinct uses, they share common components. Therefore, what are the components present on custom PCB boards for Arduino? 

· Power LED Indicator

On the circuit board, there is a small LED that illuminates once the Arduino is with an energy source. If there is an issue, the light will not turn on. Therefore, if you do not see the LED illuminated, please double-check the board.

· Voltage regulator

It is a necessary element on an Arduino circuit board to regulate the voltage input. It acts as a gatekeeper by diverting excessive Electric potential from the board, which could potentially cause damage. Besides, it is important to note that this component has specific limits, and thus, it is advisable to avoid linking the Arduino to other devices exceeding 20 volts.

· USB/ Barrel Jack

Arduino PCBs require a power/energy source to function. The ATmega328P board can be powerable through a USB or by connecting a power supply to the barrel jack. Moreover, the USB linking fills code on an Arduino printed circuit board.

· Main IC

The IC serves as the central processing unit (CPU) of an Arduino printed circuit board, and its type may vary depending on the specific Arduino board. As a crucial component of the Arduino printed circuit board, it is essential to identify the kind of Integrated circuit that matches your board. This information is typically located on the upper side of an Integrated circuit. Additionally, the datasheets provide detailed data on the distinctions between various IC types.

· Pins

The Arduino board consists of multiple pins that facilitate wire connections. These pins have black plastic headers that allow wires to be plugged into the circuit. The Arduino printed circuit board includes various types of pins, which are labeled and perform distinct functions. For example, several Ground pins on an Arduino-printed circuit board help ground aboard. 


RX and TX refer to receive and transmit, respectively and are markings commonly available on electronic devices to indicate pins for communication. In the case of the Arduino UNO, RX & TX markings appear in 2 distinct locations. Additionally, the LEDs on the RX & TX indicate when an Arduino is receiving or transmitting data.

· Crystal oscillator

The crystal oscillator enables the Arduino board to monitor time and generate communication signals & pulse thickness modulation. Additionally, the Arduino circuit can execute instructions at a rate of 16 MHz, which corresponds to the frequency of the Crystal resonator.

Types of Custom Arduino PCB

Arduino IOT

The Arduino encompasses various boards, each designed to fulfill unique functions. It’s essential to determine which board is appropriate for your task/work to ensure optimal performance.

· LilyPad Arduino

The creation of the LilyPad Arduino printed circuit board is creditable to Leah Buechley. This revolutionary technology combines electronics and textiles and features large connecting pads and a flat back. This flat back enables easy integration into fabrics using conductive thread. Moreover, the LilyPad family boasts a wide range of sensor circuit boards, as well as input, output, and power options.

· Arduino Leonard

The initial Arduino development board to feature an MCU with an integrated USB can handle USB communication directly. This board has software libraries that facilitate the emulation of various computer peripherals, including a keyboard, mouse, and more. 

· Redboard

It is famous for its high reliability and user-friendly design. It can be easily programable using the Arduino Integrated Development Environment and a Mini-B USB cable. Additionally, the board is fully compatible with Windows eight without requiring any security setting changes. Incorporating a USB or FTDI chip enhances its stability, while the flat-back design simplifies embedding in various projects.

· Arduino Uno (R3)

It is a perfect option for beginners due to its user-friendly design. The Uno’s PCB is straightforward and includes all the necessary components to commence your project. With 14 input or output pins, the Uno board provides ample connectivity options. Moreover, the Uno features comprehensive support for the microcontroller, making it an ideal starting point for your projects. 

· Arduino Mega (R3)

It is the same as the Uno version, boasting a significant increase in digital input/output pins. With the Mega, connecting to a computer is as easy as using a USB cord. Powering the board via battery is also possible, making it highly versatile for project development. The Mega is particularly advantageous for projects requiring multiple digital outputs/inputs. 

Types of Pins on the Custom Arduino PCB

This board is equipable with numerous pins, each serving a distinct purpose.


While these pins can operate as standard digital pins, they also can support advanced features such as PWM. Furthermore, the pins can imitate analog output, adding to the board’s versatility.

· Digital

It can function both as digital inputs and digital outputs, allowing them to power components such as LEDs and detect the state of other digital devices such as buttons.


AREF stands for Analog Reference and enables the setting of an outer reference voltage ranging from 0 to 5 volts, which serves as the upper limit for analog pins.

· Analog

These pins are designed to detect and interpret signals from proportional sensors. For example, they can read heat sensors & translate their output into a readable value. 

· 3.3v and 5v

This 3.3Volt pin supplies 3.3 power voltage; however, the 5 Voltpin provides 5. Most basic elements in Arduino are operational without requiring either 3.3/5 volts.

Applications of Custom Arduino PCB

Smart Irrigation system using Arduino
Smart Irrigation system using Arduino

The Arduino printed circuit board is suitable for various applications, particularly communication between computers and devices. Arduino is a renowned company renowned for its expertise in both hardware and software development. So an Arduino Uno printed circuit board is a digital device to control equipment functions. Following are some examples of applications of the Arduino circuit board:

· Robotics

An Arduino board is a popular choice for robotics tasks, as it can supply the fundamental commands necessary for the robot’s operation. Additionally, the Arduino platform eliminates any potential interference from background programs, ensuring reliable and efficient robotic performance.

· Audio systems

Over time, there have been advancements in voice quality, and it has been a significant driver of innovation. Unfortunately, Arduinos cannot handle high-quality audio processing. Nevertheless, the Arduino printed circuit boards can still incorporate an audio component into your projects.

· Medical system

The medical sector has been witnessing continuous advancements, and one such example is the impact of 3D printing on this industry. While machines cannot replace the expertise of doctors, they can perform certain functions. In addition, some medical devices are equipable with Arduino software and hardware.

· Internet of Things

The growing popularity of the IoT is a significant trend. IoT refers to physical objects that can receive instructions online, allowing for completing tasks with minimal effort. Arduino is commonly popular in IoT projects.

· Arduino Programming Languages

The code for Arduino C++, a user-friendly programming language. The IDE is the text editor useful for programming Arduino. It assists in writing and uploading projects onto an Arduino printed circuit board. Additionally, there is a version of the IDE Arduino Website Editor, which allows users to store their projects in the cloud. The Arduino platform also supports its programming language, the Arduino language, and other web languages. 

The IDE facilitates acquiring programming skills by providing an easy-to-use platform. Nevertheless, programming techniques can vary depending on the coding language utilized. Here are various coding languages that can be utilized with Arduino.

· Snap4Arduino

Snap4Arduino offers an excellent user experience to Arduino enthusiasts with its minimalistic user interface that prioritizes functionality over aesthetics. To install this program on your Arduino, you will require StandardFirmata. However, if you have already installed the Integrated Development Environment on your PC, the installation process should be straightforward.

· ArduBlock

Arduino is a beginner-friendly program that is accessible to anyone interested in programming. For individuals with limited experience, ArduBlock is an excellent tool that enables users to construct programs visually using a similar set of functions. This program is readily available for download and functions as a cover for an Arduino Integrated Development Environment. 


Arduinos comprise numerous components and represent a software and hardware platform that supports the design and construction of various electronics projects. Compared to other microcontrollers, Arduinos offer a cost-effective solution. This article highlights the fundamental facts regarding Arduino boards.




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