Breadboard - why and how people still use it ?

MaciekMaciek Posts: 229
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.


  • 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: 17,190
    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: 10,148
    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: 4,020
    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: 6,438
    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
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