Shop Learn
Breadboard - why and how people still use it ? — Parallax Forums

Breadboard - why and how people still use it ?

MaciekMaciek Posts: 309
edited 2020-12-18 19:18 in Accessories
This thread is not intended as a platform to argue in favor or against using a breadboard with projects these days so please do not advocate for any of these options.

I just have trouble understanding why and how people use them in their projects because I tried and failed miserably on many occasions.

Right now I am only confident with a good solder joint or a tested cable connection. But maybe it's not the breadboard causing problems but me, hence my asking experienced breadboard users here.

Comments

  • Good question. I'm in the middle of a project where I am using a breadboard. The digital parts of the circuit work well but the analog circuitry is very noisy, likely because of the long jumper wires and poor connections on the breadboard. I'm going to try soldering those parts onto a protoboard to see if that helps.
  • I use solder-less breadboards and have never had a problem. That said:

    1. I do almost exclusively digital, maybe up to a few MHz.
    2. I am very careful with my layout, keeping connections short. I never make wires longer than needful.
    3. I never re-use a breadboard.
  • I just got the Jon McPhalen P2 Edge Module Breadboard and it looks very nice!

    @tomcrawford You never reuse a breadboard? I thought reuse was the whole point. If you're not going to reuse it, why not use a soldered protoboard?

    I like using a breadboard because I can use the same parts over and over. If I solder them onto a board, I have to order more for my next project. I have used the Parallax circuit overlay board and the AdaFruit permanent protoboards to make a breadboard design permanent and more reliable. I also made one attempt to design a PCB. It worked but it wasn't pretty.
  • 2. I am very careful with my layout, keeping connections short. I never make wires longer than needful.
    This is no doubt my problem. I use the Parallax breadboard wires that are several inches long and are pre stripped so I don't cut them to length. I'm lazy and, again, I want to reuse the wires too.

  • For critical (timing/level/noise) parts of circuits on breadboards, it is certainly advisable to keep your wires short and watch out about cross-talking between parallel wires. Unfortunately that usually means cutting and bending wires.

    I've used breadboards for many years, primarily for digital circuits, with some analog.

    Not all breadboards are created equal, some of the cheaper ones that are available these days definitely can have contact issues and higher than normal capacitance.

    I still use breadboards that I have had for over 30 years. They still work, but sooner or later I'm sure I will start seeing an increase of intermittent/unusual circuit behaviors.

    The main killer of breadboards is inserting components/wires with larger diameters than what the breadboard was designed to work with. YMMV
  • Genetix wrote: »
    I have some of those. I just forgot about them. Maybe I'll dig them out and see if the shorter wires will help my analog circuit.

  • Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 17,686
    Analog circuits do not play well with breadboards. Too many unknowns.

    But most digital circuits are just fine. If you’re using the power and ground rails version, make sure you have bulk an bypass capacitors, just as you would on a proper pcb. Bulk doesn’t mean 1000uF !!! A 10-22uF tantalum works wonders. Bypass typically 100nF - you’re likely not going to find the better X5R or X7R monos in the electronic shops tho, so you just have to make do.

    If your pushing the envelope, a breadboard will not do the job. But as I said most uses will be fine.
  • potatoheadpotatohead Posts: 10,170
    edited 2020-12-29 21:12
    I like to use breadboard for small circuits, testing a new sensor, or something along those lines.

    Usually, it's a digital circuit, or analog one that isn't particularly picky.

    When I have trouble, I'll move to perf board and solder something together, maybe testing it a piece at a time on the breadboard.

    I have not had good luck with bigger projects on breadboards. When I look at things like the Ben Eater 6502 kits, I wonder.

    But, he did an interview on the Amp Hour a while back. Quality of breadboard and wire sizes matter a lot!

    I've mostly had the inexpensive ones. One of the better breadboards I have is actually on the Propeller Professional Dev Board. Despite having used it a number of times, it makes good connections. Very suggestive. The cheap-o ones I've got are good for a time or two, then done.

    (one of these for P2 needs to happen at some point)

    I second the suggestion for jumper wire kits. They are the right gauge wire, and just fit nicely.

    Often, I will make my own sort of wire harnesses too. I got a spool of that multicolored ribbon wire at a surplus a while back. It's in a box, and I will just pull out a strip, trim it, and peel back some of the wires to match connection points, form it with hand pliers and press it into the board.

    I've seen people do lots of clever things on breadboards too. That's really the only thing I've ever come up with, so I'm sharing it.



  • I've used both the jumper wire kits and also made my own from a Velleman K/MOWM 10 Color Solid Core Mounting Wire Set.

    This set is 24 awg vs. 22 awg, so the wire is slightly smaller. That hasn't been an issue with my breadboards, but your results may vary.

    The advantage of making my own wires was that I could directly transfer the components to a stripboard pcb, wires and all, when the design was debugged. There were some really nice ones a few years ago, but I can't find them any more.
  • Hello!
    I agree with the fellow wearing the hat shaped like an Idaho native, and the fellow wearing a hat last worn by a wildcatter, (a sort who goes after oil well sites all over the Midwest.)

    In my case I use breadboards to layout my digital projects. I have a power supply on it that's perfect. The jumper wires I'm using range from the sort that were sold by Maker Shed at one point, and are also sold by Micro Center. And also the ones wearing Dupont connectors. I've been doing this for a while, so I believe I've surmounted a big problem here. Anything permanent in the digital area goes to the wire wrap approach.
    --
    Mascot off.

    But why are a crowd of robots approaching a property in California?
  • davejamesdavejames Posts: 4,027
    edited 2021-01-19 03:57
    Maciek wrote: »
    I just have trouble understanding why and how people use them in their projects because I tried and failed miserably on many occasions..

    The "why" for me is that it's easy to do, and of course, the re-usability aspect. I've built both digital and analog circuits with no problems caused by the board. With some thought concerning component placement and lead length, breadboards are a great tool.

    I echo @tomcrawford comments 1 and 2. I'm not independently wealthy to not re-use a board. :smile:

  • Beau SchwabeBeau Schwabe Posts: 6,460
    edited 2021-01-19 06:00
    I use a SBB all of the time, mainly just to provide a proof of concept on a smaller portion of the overall circuit design.

    It's possible to design high-level analog, but to do so you must understand the characteristics of the SBB.

    Under no circumstances would I design something permanent on a SBB.

    Attached are two images of a finished board that would not have been possible without first using a SBB to validate various sections for functionality.
    1343 x 1600 - 658K
    4032 x 3024 - 4M
  • ajwardajward Posts: 1,116

    I use breadboards for a number of reasons...
    1. I like to experiment with different components and layouts for the same project.
    2. I don't anticipate anything I cobble together significant enough to warrant it's own PCB.
    3. And... mistakes can happen. "Why doesn't this blasted thing work? OH... well THAT was stupid!" :-|

    Amanda

  • Clock LoopClock Loop Posts: 2,056
    edited 2021-04-10 11:42

    Breadboards are great, once you get to know them.
    Cut your wires to length, don't be lazy, Themz the rules.

    The smooth breadboard metal insides and the smooth pins sometimes are so straight they don't touch by chance...
    Dips do this and inserting the jumper wires directly in the hole next to the pin helps, and also use a jumper with longer exposed wires.
    With longer wires you can push the wire into the hole at an angle towards your dip pin, with the goal of making direct contact.

    The used breadboards have issues, their inside metal clamps are too wide, from use.
    But most breadboards can be pulled apart and you can inspect the underside metal conduits, and even tighten them with a needle nose.
    All decent ones can do that. But make sure to have a very stiff and secure backing, because the conduits can be pushed out if you only have tape or nothing.

    You can increase your success using breadboards if you pre-silver solder EVERY pin/wire you plan to insert.
    Just don't over do the solder, you want just enough to make the pin coated, most pins are copper color so you can see when its coated.
    Even jumper wires should have this done, even things that are already silver...
    The uneven spread of the silver solder on the pin helps create a bumpy surface for better contact probability with the breadboard's metal conduits.
    And silver is high conductive... tin/lead, and the newer amalgamation solder are not silver solder, but will probably work also to increase surface bumps.
    If you haven't used breadboard devices/pins/wires for a long time, re-silver them if you have trouble.

    They are worth every penny for prototyping things.

    This is a PAB WX with a small breadboard on it that has been WONDERFUL for development during my ongoing changes.
    https://forums.parallax.com/discussion/172107/model-railroad-engine-controller-propactivityboardwx-dualmc33926-smoke-18vdcc-webpagecontrol

    Trying to do all new projects with breadboards, even small ones seems to always end up completely positive for me.
    Even using used ones. Right now I have one that has odd intermittent connections on some parts sometimes, but I still love it.

    When you prove your project with a good software program that runs almost perfectly,
    you feel 1000% more confident making a soldered circuit or even doing a pcb prototype.

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 1,856

    I prefer to use Geekpi proto boards (better than Perma-Proto) because they are more robust and are double-sided. It means soldering but I end up with something more robust which is important to me because the test-bed is often a vibrating machine. I tend to put the power distribution and much of the wiring on the bottom so that it doesn't look too offensive.
    Another neat trick is to use nylon stand-offs with circular neodymium magnets for feet so that the boards cling to the control-panel's back-plate. These magnets have a countersunk thru-hole for the screw.

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 1,856

    @Mickster said:
    I prefer to use Geekpi proto boards (better than Perma-Proto) because they are more robust and are double-sided. It means soldering but I end up with something more robust which is important to me because the test-bed is often a vibrating machine. I tend to put the power distribution and much of the wiring on the bottom so that it doesn't look too offensive.
    Another neat trick is to use nylon stand-offs with circular neodymium magnets for feet so that the boards cling to the control-panel's back-plate. These magnets have a countersunk thru-hole for the screw.

  • I just used a small breadboard this past week to update an old audio-detection circuit. Typically, I use them to do proof of concept or get in the ballpark regarding component values. For the current use case, I found that an additional gain stage would be prudent, so the small effort will pay dividends.

    I like the boards that @Mickster shows, but my experience shows that they typically don't work for my brain and workflow. Even though I have a bin of various prototyping boards, I tend to reach for my breadboard for validation. PCB fabrication has become so fast and cheap that, if I am going to solder, then I prefer to do it on a proper PCB with a ground plane, silkscreen, etc.

  • Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 17,686

    A better trick would be to use bulk and bypass caps :(

  • I like breadboards for small sections/proof of concept, but for larger systems I still like wire wrap when possible for digital systems. Only downside is having to mount any SMT only formats to adapter boards. And that is getting more common with newer parts.

  • @"frank freedman" said:
    I like breadboards for small sections/proof of concept, but for larger systems I still like wire wrap when possible for digital systems. Only downside is having to mount any SMT only formats to adapter boards. And that is getting more common with newer parts.

    Hello!
    Mind reading Frank? That's my job. Right now I'm looking at an option for an SMT adapter board for a particular part number. Problem is now one of not being certain that the part number is an appropriate fit into what I might be building.

    Mascot asleep.
    No robots and no Cats named Bob.

  • @Cluso99 said:
    A better trick would be to use bulk and bypass caps :(

    I am not sure if that was directed at my comments. It may be worth clarifying that I am looking at audio inputs on the order of 10mV. So, it is a very different animal than the digital domain. My best prototyping efforts will create 10mV noise ... and my best prototyping efforts are an order of magnitude worse than a real, proper PCB. I leave open the probability that others are better at laying out proto/bread board than me.

    Aisler delivered my PCB today. My initial tests reduced baseline noise by at least 4x. The improvement in signal-to-noise means that I could probably use a crude dual op amp (LM2904) whereas I was considering a more premium quad op amp for multiple filter/gain stages.

    To be fair to the original topic, the breadboard design was sufficient to get me to commit to lay the circuit out and have it manufactured. Sure, it can be optimized further, but playing with the breadboard circuit allowed me to probe inputs, outputs, and various stages in-between to better understand the prospective limitations. I have scribbles on my schematic regarding observations and possible improvements. In the end, the breadboard was helpful as one quick, observable, and measurable step in the design process.

Sign In or Register to comment.