Qwiic Shield for Arduino & Photon Hookup Guide

Contributors: Englandsaurus
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The Qwiic Shield (for Arduino or Particle Photon) is the first step in getting acquainted with SparkFun's Qwiic connect ecosystem. It connects the I2C bus (GND, 3.3V, SDA, and SCL) on your Arduino or Photon board to a series of SparkFun Qwiic connectors. The board already has the circuitry to convert the 5V given to the 3.3V required by I2C boards in our Qwiic ecosystem. The Arduino shield also has holes for mounting Qwiic boards. Since the Qwiic system allows for daisy chaining (as long as your devices are on different addresses) you can stack as many sensors as you'd like to create a tower of sensing power!

SparkFun Qwiic Shield for Arduino

SparkFun Qwiic Shield for Arduino


SparkFun Qwiic Shield for Photon


Here's a quick overview of the Qwiic shield for Arduino. The Qwiic shield for Photon is similar but made for the Particle Photon's footprint.

Required Materials

To follow along with this hookup guide, you will need any Arduino with the R3 header footprint, or a Photon Board. This includes the Uno, RedBoard and many other Arduino compatible boards! Here are just a few of the compatible boards.

Arduino Uno - R3

Arduino Uno - R3

SparkFun RedBoard - Programmed with Arduino

SparkFun RedBoard - Programmed with Arduino


Particle Photon (Headers)

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Now you probably didn't buy the Qwiic shield if you didn't have any Qwiic products to use with it, right? Well, if you don't have any Qwiic products, the following might not be a bad place to start.

SparkFun GPS Breakout - XA1110 (Qwiic)

SparkFun GPS Breakout - XA1110 (Qwiic)

SparkFun Qwiic Adapter

SparkFun Qwiic Adapter

SparkFun Spectral Sensor Breakout - AS7262 Visible (Qwiic)

SparkFun Spectral Sensor Breakout - AS7262 Visible (Qwiic)


SparkFun Environmental Combo Breakout - CCS811/BME280 (Qwiic)

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Finally, you'll need our handy Qwiic cables to easily connect sensors to your Qwiic shield. Below are a few options.

Qwiic Cable - 50mm

Qwiic Cable - 50mm

Qwiic Cable - 100mm

Qwiic Cable - 100mm


Qwiic Cable - 500mm

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Qwiic Cable - 200mm


Required Tools

You will need a soldering iron, solder, and general soldering accessories to solder the header pins to the Qwiic shields.

Solder Lead Free - 15-gram Tube

Solder Lead Free - 15-gram Tube

Soldering Iron - 30W (US, 110V)

Soldering Iron - 30W (US, 110V)


Suggested Reading

If you aren't familiar with the Qwiic system, we recommend reading here for an overview.

Qwiic Connect System
Qwiic Connect System

We would also recommend taking a look at the following tutorials if you aren't familiar with them.

How to Solder: Through-Hole Soldering

This tutorial covers everything you need to know about through-hole soldering.


An introduction to I2C, one of the main embedded communications protocols in use today.

Arduino Shields v2

An update to our classic Arduino Shields Tutorial! All things Arduino shields. What they are and how to assemble them.

Hardware Overview

Qwiic Shield for Arduino

The Qwiic Shields have 4x Qwiic connect ports, all on the same I2C bus. Logic level converters are included for the Qwiic connect port's SDA and SCL lines so you do not have to worry about using the Qwiic system with 5V (or 3.3V) devices.

In addition to this, a large prototyping area is included. As shown in the image below, the Qwiic shield for Arduino has a few neat features such as a few 3-by-1 rails to help with prototyping.

1x3 rail Arduino Shield

There are also buses for ground, 5V and 3.3V on the shield for Arduino outlined below.

Voltage and GND Rails on Arduino Shield

The headers also allow for every pin on the microcontroller of your choice to still be accessed through the female headers.

Qwiic Shield for Photon

The Qwiic shield for the Particle Photon also includes 4x Qwiic connect ports, a prototyping area, and buses for 3.3V and ground. However, they are much smaller. The Photon is a 3.3V system and assumes that you are using 3.3V devices so logic level conversion is not included in the design. If you are using a 5V based I2C device, be sure to grab a bi-directional logic level converter.

Qwiic Shield for Photon

Hardware Assembly

To get started with your Qwiic shield, all you'll need to do is solder on headers. For a detailed description of how to do this with Arduino shields, simply check out our Arduino shield tutorial. It'll get you started with attaching those headers to your shield properly. These tips are also useful when installing the headers for the Qwiic shield for Photon.

Once you've attached headers to your Qwiic shield, you're ready to plug it into your Qwiic enabled board of choice. Below is an example of a few Qwiic sensors daisy chained to the Qwiic shield for Arduino. If you need to mount a Qwiic sensor, just grab a few standoffs and screws. Plug in any Qwiic enabled board and get going!

qwiic action

Resources and Going Further

For more information, check out the resources below:

Now that you have your Qwiic shield ready to go, it's time to check out some Qwiic enabled products. Below are a few to get started.

SparkFun Qwiic Mux Breakout - 8 Channel (TCA9548A)

SparkFun Qwiic Mux Breakout - 8 Channel (TCA9548A)

SparkFun Capacitive Touch Slider - CAP1203 (Qwiic)

SparkFun Capacitive Touch Slider - CAP1203 (Qwiic)


SparkFun Micro OLED Breakout (Qwiic)

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SparkFun Triple Axis Accelerometer Breakout - MMA8452Q (Qwiic)

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But I Already Have Sensors!

If you already have a handful of SparkFun sensors and parts? SparkFun has been putting our standard GND/VCC/SDA/SCL pinout on all our I2C boards for many years. This makes it possible to attach a Qwiic Adapter that will get your SparkFun I2C sensor or actuator onto the Qwiic system.

Here is the list of the boards that have the standard I2C pinout and will work with the Qwiic adapter board: