Feb 2014 - prototype interface board arrives which provides all this in a better way

In the quest for the simplest solution to connecting various NMEA (RS232<>TTL), Seatalk, wind and gps sensors to the Arduino I have designed a shield you can build with minimal skills. The shield plugs onto the Arduino, and gives you normal plugs (of you choice) to connect your peripherals.

You will need to be able to solder, and have basic tool skills. The parts can be bought from Sparkfun for small change. The seatalk part is optional - you only need it if you have Seatalk instruments.(Details are in the Seatalk page)

The board uses the Sparkfun BOB-11189 RS232 converters

 The full Fritzing file is MegaPerfBoard3.fzz, you may need to Right-click>Save to get it.

The board is built on a piece of stripboard, and mostly you need pins and headers. Look on Sparkfun and you will see a selection of all these parts. The pins go down through the stripboard, and into the headers on the Ardiuno.

The headers let you plug the Sparkfun boards into the stripboard. You will need to solder pins onto the Sparkfun boards. So in the end you will have a stack - Arduino<>perfboard<>Sparkfun boards. All plugged together.

Obviously you can add your choice of external plugs, maybe you prefer screw connectors. Change to suit. If you only have one NMEA source, you may only need one Sparkfun board too.

NOTE CAREFULLY: In the image above you are looking at the TOP of the perfboard, the copper is on the OTHER side!. When you cut the tracks you need to use this mirror image! Zoom it to real life size, print it, and work carefully with an exacto knife, making V cuts to separate the tracks.

Then do the wires first, working from the TOP, it looks like this.

Dont do the external wires - Fritzing hid the parts for me, but gave me all or nothing with the wires:-):

Watch carefully for the little white wires under the diagonal blue ones. A criss-cross pattern.

Then solder the various pins in, push then thru from the top, solder under. Add the headers and other components. Check CAREFULLY, and try it out!