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Friday, November 7, 2014

Updated: Bread Board Tips and Tricks: Beginner to Proficient

We have all used breadboards, or those who plan to jump into the fascinating world of electronics need to know about them. This article focuses on introducing breadboards inside out, to help people use them and prototype their innovations faster. We would walk through Bread board concepts, connecting various chips & devices, efficient prototyping and documenting the designs.

[1] What is a Bread Board ?
Bread Board or more precisely Solder-less Bread Board is one of the essential tools for any one stating with electronics or microcontrollers. It is useful for both Pro's and beginners alike. Here are pictures of the different breadboards that one can find.
Older Variety widely available in Bharat(India)
Newer Variety slightly Costly in Bharat(India)
Smaller ones (Half Size) available from Adafruit
Oldest form of Bread boards (Not available now)
More recent Transparent Fancy bread board from Sparkfun
Apart from the above breadboards are also available in kit form. Which include optional Power supply Connections and other connectivity options.
With Power supply from Sparkfun

[2] General know how on Length Units used in Electronics.Going forward in this tutorial it is important to note that we would be using a particular unit a lot of times "mil" or also popularly known as "TH". It is 1000th of an Inch. Here is a conversion table that might come in Handy.
1 Inch =>  1000 mil  =>    2.54 cm =>    25.4 mm
1 mil  => 0.001 Inch => 0.00254 cm =>   0.025 mm
1 mm => 0.1 cm => 39.37 mil=> 0.03937 Inch

It is important to know this conversion as most of the Printed Circuit Board unit are in "mil" and the data-sheet units are in "mm". There has always been a classical fight between the more accurate one. However most of the things in PCB arena are still in "mil" and using mm means using 4-6 decimal precision in the current boards.
Thus we prefer to use the "mil" unit more than mm. However we would try to provide a proper conversion available for the parts that have been measured. There is a handy converter available in the blog which can convert in any direction either "mil" to mm or vise-versa.

[3]Cool Bread Board tricksWe have collected a set of great bread board tricks that are a real time saver.


In this case, one end of each resistor is pushed into the solder less breadboard, while the other end of each resistor has a wire soldered to it. The other end of the wire connects to the appropriate LED segment.

Easy way to connect the common CR2032 Battery needed for RTC or even MSP430.

Simple 5V power supply for Bread board this above is an Instructable that you can build your self.
Commercial ones are also available from: Adafruit, Seeedstudio, Sparkfun

This is an easy way by soldering the terminals of the commonly used SMD resistors, capacitors or even transistors to the bregs they can be inserted easily into the breadboard.

An easy way to make a makeshift but reliable SD card holder for the bread board.For some additional tricks refer to 43oh Blog.

Use of Masking tape to mention helpful references. Also this would be helpful in removing the circuits when you don't need them on the bread board any longer.

You can make your own bread board using IC DIP sockets by joining them together in the same fashion as in bread boards.

This is quite handy specially when you are out and still want to do some prototyping. All you have to do is connect the USB of your Laptop or Card USB mp3 player charger and they you go.

These modules are some of the common things that you might use. So its a good idea to make some of them. They you dont need to rig up the same old circuit again and again.

The are the tricks that we use commonly. Thanks to this Instructable we have great ease in our prototyping efforts.

Bread Board Jumpers
The secret of all hackers success with breadboards. These are indispensable and high recommended to buy one set. Its a one time investment though not so costly, but its just eases rigging up circuits a lot. These are available commercially from: Seeedstudio
These jumpers are made using berg pins and some heat shrink sleeves on normal wires.

Update: 23,January,2012
Here are some more Tricks from Vitya

Using hot-glue some basic vero board and careful soldering we can have SMD IC right on the Bread Board

A nice LED strip that can save a lot of space and rig up time designed by Vitya. Visit his blog for more info.

Easy to use 8 button for bread board use. Can help to offload the de-bounding circuit from bread board to save space.

Definitely a useful and bold type of display while bread board. This offloads the circuit needed for decoding BCD to 7-Segment Display from the bread board.

Thanks to Vitya for the links.

Bottom View of the Arduino
How the Arduino would finally Look like
Some interesting Bread board breakout Arduino Compatible
Breakout and Arduino in Use
Here is an interesting way to have Dual row berg pin Header on the Edge of development boards like EZ430-RF2500 more Bread board compatible.
EZ430-RF2500 board fixed on breadboard like DIP

Update 07, November 2014
Here is how you can solder connectors on proto PCB without drilling Holes:
However we would recommend use lots of  hot glue to keep the headers standing if there is possibility of shearing force which might break the delicate traces below.

"Well this is far from Complete So we would keep adding more and Help Us Fill in more details"