I love circuit boards, and by extension, solderable breadboard, and the last fifteen years of designing and working with circuit boards has proved nothing short of spectacular. The intricate outlay of the design and minuscule details that go into the successful development of a functioning circuit board not only engages you but proves highly fulfilling. However, you cannot design and build circuits without learning about breadboards.
A breadboard PCB is a circuit derived from the fusion through soldering a finished prototype on a printed circuit board to ensure a secure connection. Therefore, understanding the nitty-gritty of the breadboard becomes instrumental in coming up with this circuit product.
In this article, I will detail every influential aspect of the breadboard that will not only make you knowledgeable about this crucial circuit component but allow you to build one. So why not delve straight into understanding what it all entails.
The Bread Circuit Board
A breadboard, also widely recognized as a protoboard, implies a modest device intended to build a circuit without any need for solder. It comes as a rectangular board created from plastic and possessing a cluster of minute holes. Consequently, you can attach electronic components to this board in coming up with a simple electronic circuit prototype.
Components entail a battery, resistor, switch, and a light-emitting diode (LED). Breadboards prove less permanent compared to their PCB equivalents. Therefore, you can change the breadboard from time to time and as required by pushing or pulling components from or to it. However, it becomes prudent to acknowledge that breadboards exist more for designing, experimenting, and analyzing connections within the circuit before actualizing them.
History of the Breadboard
Origin of the name – The name breadboard might sound a little off when it comes to electronics. Therefore, it must have originated from somewhere else. So, where did the name come from? In earlier times, electronics relied on circuits derived from screws and nails hit on wooden boards, otherwise used for cutting bread, and thus the name breadboard.
Functionality. The earlier versions of breadboard circuits relied on circuits created on the wooden board. Further, the creation technique used the wire-up approach to wrap wires on the conductive posts affixed to the protoboard. While this method still gets used in certain quarters, it gets complicated fast; therefore, prototyping using modern breadboards makes it simpler.
Today, however, breadboards have a marked difference as they no longer rely on wooden pieces or countless wires. Additionally, technological advances have shifted circuit boards from the breadboard to PCB.
Functions of a Breadboard
Unlike what many people would think, breadboards still prove crucial in this day and age. It no longer infers the wooden breadboard full of wires and conductive posts but one with solderless circuits. Thus, the breadboard becomes instrumental in prototyping and making temporary circuits. What’s more, they do not need any soldering. So what does prototyping imply?
- Prototyping. It infers to the testing process of a concept by developing a pilot model that acts as a template for developing other forms. The process proves crucial, and a breadboard acts as a pivotal enabler. Prototyping can especially become useful when you cannot predict how a specific circuit will function under specified parameters.
If you cannot handle how circuits work yet possess an interest to know, starting with breadboards can become ideal.
- The testing of new components. A breadboard becomes a perfect platform to test new components like integrated circuits. However, for the parts’ testing process, you have to wire and rewire parts to figure out the correct pattern and avoid soldering.
- Troubleshooting function. A breadboard becomes instrumental when trying to mirror a client’s problem and ironing it out. Therefore, the impermanence of this breadboard proves perfect for this function.
What Makes a Breadboard?
If you want to understand the functionality of a breadboard, then unpacking its components become important. Here, I detail all the breadboard’s components and their specific functions to make it easier for you to understand how it operates as a whole. So let’s dig right in.
- Terminal strips. It is a pivotal aspect of the breadboard that holds stuck wires or components legs in the breadboard’s exposed holes. Terminal strips come as little clips and strips beneath the breadboard with a 2.54mm standard pitch between them. The clips hide beneath the holes and allow you to attach or component legs and wires besides holding them in place. Immediately a component gets connected, it becomes electrically connected to everything placed in that specific row. Every strip can connect the utmost five components because of the five available clips.
- Power rail. Besides the horizontal rows that contain the terminal strips, the breadboard also features power rails, running vertically on the sides. Similar to the terminal strips, these rails conduct power, but all connect. Consistently labeled as positive or negative by blue, black, or red labels makes your task of connecting to power simpler. However, remember the two power rails located on either side prove unconnected. Thus, you will need to connect them with jumper wires whenever you desire to use a similar power source.
- DIP support. A ravine separates a breadboard’s sides and plays an integral role in separating connections. Chips get manufactured to fit into these breadboards and come packaged in DIP (dual in-line package). DIPs have legs to fit into the ravine, and since each DIP chip leg proves distinctive, the separation that the ravine provides ensures that the legs do not connect together.
- Columns and rows. Breadboards have a letter and number labeling, something that proves noticeable when looked at closely. Each column and row has a distinctive letter or number label and acts as useful guides to help you build your circuit. So why is labeling crucial? Circuits get complicated fast and without an elaborate guide to help you navigate the circuit building process. If you get a single leg misplaced, then the entire circuit can malfunction.
- Binding posts. Breadboards can come with binding posts, and they serve as connecting towers for diverse power sources.
- Other crucial components of the breadboard include side slots and little nubbins to help you connect your circuit if it requires more space than what exists on the surface. In addition, it will allow you to link the breadboard with other breadboards to enlarge the circuit area.
How to Power Your Breadboard
Power proves an instrumental element in enabling your breadboard circuit to work upon completion. You, therefore, have to provide a power source. Diverse power source options exist when it comes to your breadboard.
- Borrowing energy from other sources. Some breadboards, such as the Arduino, allows you to borrow power from diverse sources using the numerous ground and power pins that can allow you to connect the board’s power rails or horizontal rows. Therefore, you can derive power from a battery pack or computer via a USB port.
- Binding posts. As earlier mentioned, some breadboards come with binding posts to allow you to connect the breadboard to external sources of power. Additionally, the connection gets enabled by jumper wires. While it appears like the breadboard and the posts have a connection, this often proves untrue. The aspect of having them connected can limit your options on where to provide power.
Since breadboards come highly customizable, the binding posts prove similar, and thus you need to attach wires to these posts to connect with the breadboard. To accomplish this, all you have to do entails unscrewing the post to expose the hole and slide through the stripped wire before screwing it again to connect the wire firmly.
You only have to connect two types of wires to the binding posts: a ground and power wire. However, you can opt for another third post whenever you have to use a different power source.
- Power supplies from the benchtop. Power supplies mostly come in different shapes and sizes, though all always serve a similar purpose. Therefore, it becomes difficult to miss these power supplies in any electronic lab. Firstly, you can connect your power source to the binding post through banana connectors. You can also opt to use IC hooks, or alligator clips, or other means (as long as they possess a banana assembly/connection) when hooking the board to power sources.
- Power supplies from the breadboard. It is another crucial way of powering your breadboard. Here, for instance, it becomes possible to power the breadboard by connecting the SparkFun (containing several boards and kits) directly. Other versions also allow you to draw power via a USB into the breadboard, while better still, others allow for a direct wall wart plug into the breadboard.
Building a Breadboard Circuit
You can build breadboard circuits in a number of ways based on the components you want to incorporate. However, for a simple circuit, the first step entails having all the necessary components needed, such as a resistor, button, LED, power supply, etc. You then have to understand the various connections to ensure that that the breadboard circuit functions. Here, a circuit schematic becomes crucial regardless of its complexity or simplicity. It will allow you to understand what connects with what and in what order. At the moment, free software programs exist that you can use to design a schematic virtually.
Breadboard circuit boards are important to any circuit enthusiast, especially in designing, troubleshooting, and testing circuit components. If you want to go into more complex PCB design and creation, then it would help if you started to practice on these valuable breadboard circuit boards. Good luck!