Designing a modular embedded system

When you want to make a product with embedded electronics, you always need to design a new board. Would it not be nice to have standard boards which you can connect together without the need to design a new board.

I designed a new form factor and an interface connector, suitable for almost all microcontrollers.

New form factor

This new form factor for boards allows easy embedded systems design.

Several manufacturers make boards for evaluation and prototyping. The next step after evaluation and prototyping is a small production series. Because there is no standard in size and connectors, these boards do not fit in available enclosures and interconnection always required adaptations.

Some manufacturers are using the Arduino form factor, which allows interconnection with other boards, called shields. However, more than one shield can give compatibility problems. For Arduino boards and shields it is not possible to make a standard enclosure.


I designed a new form factor and interface with the following benefits:

  1. Easy connection between boards and modules.
  2. Boards and modules will fit into enclosures without modifications.
  3. A prototype or small production series can be made by just plugging the modules into a standard enclosure.
  4. Engineers can start software development without the need of first designing and producing hardware.

I made the design in such a way that it can fit into a handheld enclosure and into an enclosure for desktop/ wall mount. I defined a connector which allow easy connection between a microcontroller board and I/O modules.

The design is open source, so anyone can copy it and use it without any restrictions.

The idea

The idea is to use a small board of approximately 5 x 8 cm (which is derived from the standard Euroboard size). The microcontroller board has a female angle connector and the I/O board has a male angle connector. Both boards connect to each other in a horizontal way, which allows it to be mounted in a handheld enclosure.

The connector pin layout of every board is the same, which allows to connect different boards to the microcontroller board. You can even connect more I/O boards to the microcontroller board by using a back panel. Such an embedded system can be mounted inside a desktop of wall mount enclosure.

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