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The Best Tech Guide to Electronic Breadboards in 2021

Author: Apogeeweb
Date: 6 Aug 2021
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how does a breadboard work

What is Breadboard?

When learning how to build a circuit, the breadboard is one of the most basic parts. There are many small jacks on the breadboard, which are specially designed and manufactured for solderless experiments of electronic circuits. A breadboard consists of plastic block holding a matrix of electrical sockets of a size suitable for gripping thin connecting wire, component wires or the pins of transistors and integrated circuits (ICs). The sockets are connected inside the board, usually in rows of five sockets. Since various electronic components can be inserted or pulled out at will according to needs, welding is eliminated, circuit assembly time is saved, and components can be reused, so it is very suitable for the assembly, debugging and training of electronic circuits.

What is Breadboard?

Topics Covered in this Guide

What is Breadboard?

Why are breadboards called breadboards?

How Breadboard Looks like?

IC & DIP

How to Use Breadboards?

Types of Breadboards

Basic Principles of Breadboard Wiring

Breadboard Using Tips for Beginners

Maintenance of the Breadboards

Which Breadboard is Best?

What are the Holes in the Breadboard Called?

Is a Breadboard Necessary?

How much Voltage can a Breadboard Handle?

How Does Current Flow in a Breadboard?

How Many Amps Can a Breadboard Take?


Why are breadboards called breadboards?

The name of the breadboard can be traced back to the era of vacuum tube circuits. At that time, most of the circuit components were large in size. People usually fixed them on a wooden board for cutting bread with screws and nails for connection. Later, the circuit components became more and more smaller, but the name of the breadboard is still used. The breadboard most commonly used today is usually made of white plastic and is a pluggable (solderless) breadboard. It was designed by Ronald J. Portugal in 1971.
It is a process of verifying ideas by creating an initial model. If you are not sure how a circuit will react normally under a given parameter setting, it is best to build a prototype to test it. For those who are new to electronic circuits, the breadboard is a good start. The advantage of a breadboard is that it can hold the simplest and most complex circuits at the same time. If your circuit cannot be accommodated by the current breadboard, you can splice other boards to adapt to all circuits of different sizes and complexity. Such as integrated circuits (ICs). When you try to master how a module works and need to rewire multiple times, you certainly don't want to solder the circuit interface every time. Once you find a problem, you can disassemble each part to prepare for some troubleshooting.

 

How Breadboard Looks like?

The shape of the breadboard is mostly cuboid, with different sizes. The breadboard generally has two layers, the top is a grid shape with double-sided tape adhering to it( you can tore it to fix the breadboard in a certain position). The upper layer of the breadboard is composed of a grid of rows and columns, and there is no conduction between rows.
The whole board is made of thermosetting phenolic resin, and there are metal strips at the bottom of the board. Holes are punched at the corresponding positions on the board so that the components can be in contact with the metal strips when inserted into the board, so as to achieve the purpose of conducting electricity. Generally, every 5 orifice plates are connected by a metal strip. There are two rows of vertical jacks on both sides of the board, also a group of 5. These two sets of jacks are used to provide power to the components on the board.

breadboard layout example

Breadboard Layout Example

Some breadboards have two columns on the left and right sides. These two columns are customarily used as the positive and negative poles of the power supply (This is not necessarily true, depending on your own usage habits and circuit needs). Each of the five grids in the same column of the two columns is a group, which is conductive. But there is no conduction between columns. Then in the middle part, every five columns of grids form a group, and the five grids in this group are conductive. There is generally a groove in the center of the board, which is designed for the needs of integrated circuit (IC) and chip testing, and is used to separate the left and right parts of a board. Some breadboards do not have two columns on the left and right sides due to the size, but the other structures are the same.
The motherboard uses a glass fiber board with a conductive layer of copper foil, which is used to fix the solderless breadboard and lead out the power terminal.
There may be slight differences in the structure between different breadboards, but they are basically the same.

 

IC & DIP

An unique feature of the breadboard is: Integrated Circuit (IC) and Dual in-line Package (DIP)

Dual in-line Package (DIP):MA2053

Dual in-line Package (DIP) Chip:MA2053

Do you see the small gap in the middle of the breadboard? There is a reason for this gap, the use of integrated circuits. There are ICs in almost every electronic device. They run motors, regulate voltage, act as timers, perform logic tasks, and perform almost everything you need to perform.
ICs can have different numbers of pins, sizes and functions. However, many ICs are suitable for a standard called dual in-line packaging (DIP), which means they all share a set width. As you guessed, the width fits the gap in the middle of the breadboard. This makes it easier to use the IC without having to worry about connecting the wrong pins together. the holes of the breadboard are spaced 0.1” (2.54mm) apart in both the X and Y direction which is the spacing used for adjacent DIP IC leads as well as many other components such as headers.

IC & DIP example

IC & DIP Example on Breadboard

 

How to Use Breadboards?

You can use breadboard to make quick electrical connections between components- like resistors, LEDs, capacitors, etc, so that you can test your circuit before permanently soldering it together. Without welding and manual wiring, the circuit and components can be tested by inserting the component into the hole, which is convenient to use. Before use, determine which component's pins should be connected together, and then insert them into the same group of 5 small holes.

How to Use a Breadboard?


Example: LED Lighting
1) Materials
One breadboard, several connecting wires (the connecting wires should use needle-shaped wires at both ends), one led light, and one 3V button battery.
2) First, put the battery into the battery holder (this can be bought online), and plug it into the breadboard. Then, insert the battery holder into the left and right parts of the breadboard. Parts are separated by grooves to avoid short circuit between the positive and negative poles of the power supply).

3) Lead two wires from the positive and negative poles of the battery, and then plug the LED into any two grids that are not conductive on the breadboard (the long pin of the led is positive and the short pin is negative), and finally connect the wires from the positive and negative poles of the battery to the two LED segments.

Types of Breadboards

1) Solderless Breadboard
A solderless breadboard is a motherboard that does not serve as a base, and does not have a soldering power socket to draw out but can expand a single breadboard. Connect the two poles of the power supply to the sockets on both sides of the breadboard, and then you can plug in the components for experiment (the power supply should be disconnected during the process of inserting the components). When more than 5 components or a set of jacks cannot be inserted, you need to connect multiple sets of jacks with a breadboard cable.
The advantages of solderless breadboards are small size and easy to carry, but the disadvantages are relatively simple, inconvenient power connection, and small area. It is not suitable for large-scale circuit experiments. If you want to use it for large-scale circuit experiments, you need to fix multiple breadboards on a large wooden board with screws, and then connect them with wires.

2) Single Breadboard
A single breadboard is a part with a motherboard as a base and a dedicated terminal for power access, and even some breadboards that can perform high-voltage experiments include ground terminals. This kind of board is more convenient to use, that is, directly connect the power supply to the terminal, and then insert the components for experiment (the power supply should be disconnected during the process of inserting the components) when more than 5 components or a set of jacks cannot be inserted, you need to use breadboard cables to connect multiple sets of jacks.
The advantage of a single breadboard is that it is small in size, easy to carry, and can easily switch on and off the power supply, but it has a small area and is not suitable for large-scale circuit experiments.

3) Composite breadboard
Composite breadboard is a board composed of many solderless breadboards. Generally, 2-4 solderless breadboards are fixed on the motherboard, and then the power cords of each board are connected together with the copper foil in the motherboard. The kind of breadboards is also specially designed for different circuit units to control the power supply, so that each board can carry different voltages according to the needs. The use of the composite breadboard is the same as the single breadboard.
The advantage of the composite breadboard is that it can conveniently switch on and off the power supply, has a large area to carry out large-scale experiments, and is highly mobile, and has a wide range of uses. However, it is large and heavy for carrying, so it is suitable for laboratories and electronic hobbyists use.

 

Basic Principles of Breadboard Wiring

Complete the circuit overlap on the breadboard, different people have different styles. However, no matter what style or habit, the following basic principles must be paid attention to when completing the circuit overlap:
1. The fewer connection points, the better.
Each additional connection point actually increases the probability of failure artificially. There are common faults such as impassability in the breadboard hole, loose wire, and broken wire inside.
2. Try to avoid overpasses.
The so-called "overpass" means that components or wires ride on other components or wires. Beginner is easy to make such mistakes. It will bring trouble to the replacement of components in the later stage. On the other hand, in the event of a failure, the messy wires can easily make people lose confidence.
3. Try to be as reliable as possible.
There are two phenomena that need attention:
① Breadboard integrated circuits are easy to loosen. Therefore, for integrated circuits such as operational amplifiers, it is necessary to press down forcefully. Once it is not reliable, the position needs to be changed.
② The pins of some components on the breadboard are too thin, so please be careful to move them slightly. If you find that they are not secure, you need to change the position.

electronic breadboard

Electronic Breadboard

Breadboard Using Tips for Beginners

1. When installing discrete components, it should be easy to see their polarity and signs. After placing the component pins, bend them where needed. In order to prevent the exposed leads from short-circuiting, a wire with a sleeve must be used, and the component pins are generally not cut to facilitate repeated use. Generally, do not insert components with a pin diameter> 0.8mm, so as not to damage the elasticity of the contact piece inside the socket.
2. The pins of integrated circuits that have been used many times must be repaired neatly, the pins cannot be bent, and all the pins should be slightly skewed outward, so that the lead angles and the jacks can be reliably contacted. The arrangement of the components on the breadboard should be determined according to the circuit diagram in order to facilitate the wiring. In order to be able to correctly route and facilitate wire checking, the insertion direction of all ICs must be kept the same, and which cannot be inserted upside down for the convenience of temporary wiring or to shorten the length of the wire.
3. According to the sequence of the signal flow, the method of installation and debugging is adopted. After the components are installed, first connect the power cord and the ground wire. In order to check the line conveniently, try to use different colors for the line. For example, the positive power supply generally uses a red wire, the negative power supply uses the blue, the ground wire uses the black, and the signal wire uses the yellow. Other colors can also be selected according to the real conditions.
4. The breadboard should use a single-strand wire with a diameter of about 0.6mm. Cut the wire according to the distance of the wire and the length of the jack. The wire end is required to be cut into a 45º, and the stripped length of the wire end is about 6mm. All the wires are required to be inserted into the bottom plate to ensure good contact. In addition, bare wires should not be exposed to prevent disconnection with other wires.
5. The connection is required to be tightly attached to the breadboard to avoid collision and ejection of the breadboard, resulting in poor contact. The wiring must pass around the integrated circuit, and it is not allowed to cross the integrated circuit, and the wires must not be overlapped with each other, try to be horizontal and vertical. This is conducive to line wiring and checking, and components replacement.
6. It is best to connect a capacitor with a capacity of tens of microfarads in parallel between the input terminal of each power supply and the ground, so as to reduce the impact of current during transients. In order to suppress the high-frequency components in the power supply, a high-frequency decoupling capacitor should be connected in parallel at both ends of the capacitor, generally 0.01~0.047Uf.
7. During the wiring process, it is required to place the various components on the corresponding position on the breadboard and mark the pin numbers used on the circuit diagram to ensure the smooth progress of debugging and troubleshooting.
8. All ground wires must be connected together to form a common reference point.

 

Maintenance of the Breadboards

Using a breadboard is more convenient than using a soldering method, easy to replace wires and components, and can be used multiple times. However, the breadboard should be maintained during daily use. In the multiple use of the breadboard, the spring sheet will become loose and the elasticity will become poor, which is easy to cause poor contact and virtual welding. They are difficult to find out.
The breadboard that has been used many times should be uncovered from the back, and the spring sheet with poor elasticity should be taken out, repaired and then inserted into the original position. This can enhance the elasticity and increase the reliability and service life of the breadboard. In addition, pay attention to where the breadboard is used. Large-volume, high-quality or high-power components cannot be plugged into the breadboard because the breadboard jacks are small and the leads of such large components are relatively thick. At this time, the components can only be placed outside the board. Use a single strand of hard wire to solder to the lead, and then insert it into the breadboard.
Breadboards are not suitable for high-frequency circuits, because the lead inductance and distributed capacitance of the breadboard are relatively large, which has a great impact on the performance of high-frequency circuits. Breadboard is suitable for integrated circuits, especially for digital integrated circuits, because digital integrated circuits usually have low operating frequency and low power, and they use fewer RC components. It is more difficult for discrete component circuits to use breadboards, especially for circuits with high frequency and high power.

 

Which Breadboard is Best?

Best Breadboard Kit Reviews
ELEGOO Upgraded Electronics Fun Kit
REXQualis Electronics Component Fun Kit
Elegoo EL-CP-003 3 MB-102 830-pin solderless PCB board kit
Freenove Solderless Breadboard Ultimate Starter Kit
Keywishbot Electronic Component Breadboard
REXQualis Solderless Breadboard
Kuman GPIO expansion kit for Raspberry Pi
eBoot 3 400-point solderless circuit breadboard
Paxcoo 4 breadboard kits with 120 jumper wires for Arduino
Smraza Basic Starter Kit
SunFounder breadboard kit RAB holder
TEKTRUM Solderless plug-in breadboard kit
Microtivity IB401 400-point experiment breadboard
Elenco 9440 breadboard with 350 jumper wire set kit
Makeronics Breadboard + Electronics Fun Kit

 

What are the Holes in the Breadboard Called?

Breadboards are designed to work with through-hole electronic components. They have many tiny sockets (called 'holes') arranged on a 0.1" grid. The leads of most components can be pushed straight into the holes. ICs are inserted across the central gap with their notch or dot to the left.
The holes in the top-most rail are highlighted in orange and the holes in the bottom-most one are highlighted in green. In the central area of the board are vertical lines of five holes that are electrically connected. These lines of five holes are known as nodes.

 

Is a Breadboard Necessary?

Although a breadboard is essential to prototype circuits without having to solder them together and when you have verified that the circuits works you can solder it onto a perfboard. But note that breadboards are never necessary. A properly-milled and constructed panel should generally stay flat under normal conditions, so the only time I add a breadboard end is if I think the design benefits from it visually.
In addition, high frequency (above 10MHz) Where the additional breadboard capacitance would present problems (oscillators, etc) Where glitches due to poor wire connections would result in poor operation. Where most of the parts are not through hole 0.1" (2.54mm) centers.

 

How much Voltage can a Breadboard Handle?

Breadboards are mostly used for low voltage and current applications, however, breadboards can handle 12 volts. Breadboards are made by different manufacturers, so the voltages they can handle depends on how they are constructed.

 

How Does Current Flow in a Breadboard?

The vertical columns of the breadboard are called terminals, while the horizontal long rows are called power rails because they are mostly used to connect the power supply to the breadboard. The positive rails are indicated by red lines, while the negative rails are indicated by black ones. That means our electric current, which is made up of moving charges, flows out of the positive side of the battery, through the wire and into the breadboard power bus. It then flows out of the black wire and into the second power bus, through the power bus and back to the negative side of the battery.

 

How Many Amps Can a Breadboard Take?

Due to the temporary nature of the contacts, most breadboard has a current limit of one amp or less. Breadboard generally cannot handle frequencies greater than ten megahertz because of the nature of the contacts, which create a stray capacitance of around two to twenty picofarads (pFs) for every connection.

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