display panel

Shield assembly - installing patch headers

Place the parts

If you're building a shield with the standard configuration, the patch headers come after the stacky header. (I suppose you could put the patch headers into a shield that uses pin header, but can't imagine why you'd want to)

The general rule of circuit assembly is to start with the parts lowest to the board first, then work your way up to the taller ones. That way you don't have to poke around trying to fit a small component into the space between two tall ones. It's also a good idea to start from the center and work out, but in this case, the stacky headers came first for a reason.

Save yourself some pain, part 2

Drop the headers into their holes and lay a piece of tape across them to hold them in place. I use 2" painter's tape because it's wide enough for one piece to hold everything, and it's not quite as sticky as regular masking tape.

We installed the stacky headers first because now they make good connection points for the tape.

Seriously, the tape is a good idea

There are eight headers in there, and it would take some serious fiddling to turn the board over without scattering them.

You could solder the headers in one at a time, I guess, but that would involve a lot of extra flipping.

Tack the headers in place

Once again, the holes are larger than the header pins. That isn't as much of a problem here as it is for the stacky/pin headers, but it's almost as easy to make a good looking board as it is to make a sloppy one.

Start by soldering one pin of each header. We'll use them as pivots to swing the headers in line with each other.

Center the headers

Try to center the tacked pins reasonably well in their holes. Solder the joint as usual, then push on the header's other pins before pulling the iron away.

The tacked pins will hold the headers in place when you pull the tape away, but the rest of the header will be able to swing slightly. The trick is to swing them so the headers line up with each other.

Swing the headers in line

We do that with 1x4 pin header.

Bridge a couple pieces of pin header between each pair of patch headers. Those will hold the patch headers in line with each other while you solder the remaining pins.

Drop a couple pieces of pin header in the stacky header as well to hold the shield stable while you work on it.


The next step is to install the 8P8C jacks.