I recently purchased an MP3 Player Shield for my Arduino. I bought a couple of headers to run through the shield's holes down to my arduino. Is this TRULY necessary (for testing purposes)? Or could I just plug it in and down to the Arduino.

By "plug it in and down to the Arduino," I mean running the stack headers through the shield's pinholes and down into the female pins of the arduino" without any soldering.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You might want to post your comment as an answer to your own question, then accept it. That is an acceptable practice on this site. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6, 2013 at 3:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Anindo, thing is the site isn't letting me because I have less than 10 rep points, so I have to wait another 6 hours. :/ \$\endgroup\$
    – VAlexander
    Apr 6, 2013 at 4:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ There you go, write the answer :o) \$\endgroup\$
    – jippie
    Apr 6, 2013 at 9:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ What does "plug it in and down" mean? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6, 2013 at 11:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, but you could use jumper wires with clips on the end to do it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Apr 7, 2013 at 3:52

3 Answers 3


Now that you have explained that the alternative to adding headers to your daughter board was just letting the pins stick thru the holes where the header would be soldered, this question can be easily answered.

NO, that is a really bad idea. If the holes are plated thru, which they probably are, the pins will make contact most of the time. That's the worst case scenario for a bug. However, the metal of each pin won't be solidly held against the ring of metal that is the plating inside the hole. That ring is a bit bigger than the pin, so the pin will make contact intermittently if there is any vibration. Overall, your system will be flaky.

This is what sockets with their spring-loaded mechanisms are for. If it was so simple that you could just stick the pins thru the holes, whoever designed the board wouldn't have added the extra trouble and expense to specify a socket.

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    \$\begingroup\$ 100% agreed except for "baby words". Given that Arduino.cc calls it "shields" (why, or whether that's a good idea is is another matter) the word "shield" does not seem inapropriate. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6, 2013 at 22:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @angelat: The point is that there was already a standard name for these add on boards. They deliberately used a different word, which I think is kind of arrogant and annoying. When adruino people talk amongst themselves, they can use whatever terms they want. But when they talk to others outside their little sugar coated bubble, they need to learn that's not right and the rest of the world shouldn't have to put up with it just because some marketing person picked something for their own immediate advantage. You want to be taken seriously, don't say "shield" or "sketch". \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6, 2013 at 22:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop there is no need to talk down to someone for using the term they have always used and were taught. You cant know everyone else calls them daughter cards unless someone tells you, beyond that, it is what that community calls it. You are not going to change that, beyond that, if you have a serious issue with it, put the arduino tag on ignore. Being rude about it to people is not okay. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Apr 7, 2013 at 3:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't have an issue with the term 'shield' that Arduino uses because it implies a specific usage, specification, and feature set. I don't see you upset that Philips called their bidirectional, two-wire, addressable, synchronous serial protocol I2C. The same with "sketch" - these are trademarks, not technical descriptions. Do you know people who think the browser Internet Explorer is "The Internet"? \$\endgroup\$
    – W5VO
    Apr 7, 2013 at 4:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk: I can understand why you deleted the original comment about baby talk, which was admittedly inflammatory. However, now you are going too far deleting a much milder version that I replaced it with, talking only of "electrical engineering terms" if I remember right. I should have the right to say that I don't like the term "shield", and contrasting it with "electrical engineering term" is accurate and not inflammatory. You guys are really getting touchy about adruino users. If they come to Electrical Engineering SE, they should expect pushback when not using EE terms. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 7, 2013 at 16:50

I assume the alternative you were thinking of was to put the shield on top of the Arduino and use a row of unsoldered male headers to connect the two. It’s a seductive idea, but as I learned myself this week, it tends to be way unreliable.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I definitely was suggesting that idea, but like you and others around the web have mentioned, it's unreliable. I guess I just wanted to avoid soldering because It required soldering 28 pins to the shield (which took time) but after doing it, it works like a charm. So yupp I'd recommend soldering since the start. \$\endgroup\$
    – VAlexander
    Apr 6, 2013 at 20:18

For anyone who may later stumble into a similar dilemma, it turns out that you should solder the headers to the shield. This way the connection is reliable and secure instead of intermittent. This is true for your final projects and for testing purposes. Hope it helps someone in the future!

P.S. If you have trouble figuring out where to solder, here's an awesome quick start guide for the MP3 Shield (Pretty sure it's similar to other shields, in terms of soldering stack headers).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm confused. Were you suggesting just pushing the pin headers into the holes on the board? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6, 2013 at 10:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah for testing purposes, and later soldering. But I guess it's just better to solder the stack headers to the shield since the start. \$\endgroup\$
    – VAlexander
    Apr 6, 2013 at 20:17

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