A solderless breadboard is an electronic circuit design tool that is used for making the prototype (a test version) of a circuit design, to test its workability and correctness, before making a permanent design on a printed circuit board (PCB) or a veroboard (perfboard or stripboard). A printed circuit board (PCB) is what is mostly referred to as “panel” by most Nigerians. This term is common amongst repairs technicians. The copper board you see containing gamut of electronic components in television and radio sets, computers, phones, etc, are PCBs. Vero boards are the handy soldering boards that come either in strips or dots for permanent circuit construction.
So in this tutorial, we shall learn:
- What a breadboard is.
- Why is it called a Breadboard
- How to use a breadboard
- Classes of Solderless Breadboards
- Parts of a Breadboard
- Breadboard cascade
For a beginner in electronic circuit design, you need to know how to use a breadboard, because, most of the designs you will be carrying out will be done using breadboards.
What is a Breadboard?
A breadboard or technically a solderless breadboard is a cuboid shaped plastic board that contains holes for fixing and connecting the leads and pins of electronic components while designing circuits. Using the breadboard is very easy and convenient. With a breadboard, you do not need to worry about not re-using a component. When you are done prototyping with a breadboard, you can easily remove the components and re-use them later.
A breadboard is always used with jumper wires. It is not advisable to put stranded wires into the holes of a breadboard, because the wires may snap while being forced into the holes, which could render the breadboard useless.
The above figure is a typical breadboard used for electronic circuit design, the arrow points to a burnt area on the board. This is to let you know that breadboards can get burnt if subjected to a very hot condition.
Why is it called a Breadboard
It is called a breadboard because back in the days, people used the board the used in cutting breads to construct electronic circuits using pins, thumbtacks, screws, etc.
Classes of Solderless Breadboards
Breadboards come in different sizes, shapes and configurations. I personally classified them based on the following criteria:
- Size and shape
- Binding post
- Split and non split rails
- Single and dual rails
It should be noted that any breadboard can belong to more than one class. For example, we can have split dual rails breadboard. i.e., its rails are two and are split.
Classification based on Size and Shape
The image above shows different breadboard sizes and shapes.
Classification based on Binding Post
The binding posts help to connect external power to the breadboard.
Classification based on Split and Non-Split Rails
The breadboard depicted in figure 8 above has no split along its rails, while there is split on the rails of figure 9, look at the black arrows to observe the split and no splits.
The split causes a discontinuity along the rail. To bridge this discontinuity, you can use jumper wires to connect the two separated rails as shown in the figure below.
Figure 11: The separated rails of a breadboard joined with a jumper wires
Classification based on single or dual rails
The rails or buses serve as power supply lines to the breadboard.
Parts of a Breadboard
Having taking time to classify the breadboards, let’s now explore the various parts of a breadboard.
- The tab fits into the notch when cascading many boards
- The Rails or Busses are usually where the power supply leads are connected, hence, they are called “Power rails or power Busses”
- Components’ connection lines are the holes in which electronic components are connected
- Ravine or Crevasse is the connection discontinuity separation line between the two sides of the board; It helps in affixing integrated circuits(IC) as shown in the figure above.
- The split separates the rails on the two sides.
With the help of the tabs and notches on the breadboard, we can cascade breadboards to any number we want. The figure below shows three breadboards that have been cascaded into one unit.
Figure 15: Three cascaded breadboards
Figure 16: breadboard connection
Using a dual split breadboard (figure 16 above) as a case study, we can give a brief and easy to understand explanation on the connection of a breadboard.
- From point 1 to point 2 of the two rails shown above, there is continuity of connection, i.e. all holes from point 1 to point 2 are connected together.
- Between point 2 and point 3 there is a gap and disconnection or discontinuity.
- From point 3 to point 4, there is also continuity of connection, i.e. all holes from point 3 to point 4 are connected together.
- The component connection lines constitute a matrix of holes, here is the clue: looking at figure 16, the holes are continues along the columns and discontinuous across the rows
To give a better pictorial view of the inner connections of the breadboard, the back cover or backing layer of a breadboard was stripped to expose the connections.
Having gone through this tutorial from beginning to end, I believe you have learnt what a breadboard is, breadboard cascade, how to use a breadboard and more. Leave any question you have in the comment section below.