I'm building a simple robot and have a L298N motor drive board to sit between the Pi's 3.3v GPIO, the 5v battery pack and the motors.

However I frequently see "motor shields" popping up. What is the different between a motor drive board (which costs a few quid) and a shield board (that costs 10s of pounds)? And importantly am I putting my Pi at risk by omitting a shield?

I've tried googling but not seen anything that explains the different between the two.

1 Answer 1


In general things like motor, wav, and lcd shields are designed to fit an Arduino. That does not mean they won't work with other MCU's or SBC's like the Pi.

Some of the difference include:

  • usually 5 volt based logic.
  • form factor and pinout to match the arduino (usually an uno or deumilanove - but there are some designed for some of the other Arduino's).
  • headers to mate with the arduino and allow stacking another shield on top.

So no you are not losing anything from not getting a motor shield vs. a board. However, the question of protection is another thing all together. The question here is how is the board designed to limit current, isolate and protect the GPIO pins etc. This is where you may want to do some further investigating and look at boards designed specifically for the Pi.

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