Improving breadboard layout through practice

Spotted in the MAKE Flickr pool:

Flickr user mrbbking is learning electronics by working his way through various electronics books, which is a great idea. The picture above shows two of his attempts to build an identical circuit. Both versions work, however he was unsatisfied with the way his first attempt looked (right side), so he re-arranged the parts to construct a much neater version (left side):

Two copies of the same circuit. The one on the right was done first, and is a pretty good rat’s nest, if I do say so myself. The one on the left was built based on the other one, but with an eye toward clarity. Much easier to see what’s going on! I guess that figuring out the layout based on a schematic is a skill that needs practice.

Learning to lay out circuits well is a skill that takes a bit of practice, and it is neat to actually see the results that you can achieve.

16 thoughts on “Improving breadboard layout through practice

  1. Just get the thing to work electronically on the breadboard, ignore how it looks. Then give a satisfied sigh as you watch your projecting running and rip it up, or rebuild it neatly on a piece of perf board.

    Who cares how it looks on a breadboard? It’s just to make sure everything works electronically.

  2. Because clean circuits make for easier debugging, and the skills you learn here should come in handy when you need to make hard copies in perfboard and on PCBs.

  3. Lesson 1: Don’t put ICs at end of breadboard

    Lesson 2: If possible put one leg of support devices “directly” on the IC pin

    Lesson 3: Taut wires are easier to trace, multi-hop if need be

    Other lessons not illustrated:

    Graph paper is your friend

    Color code if you can, then highlight the connections on the schematic in the same color (breadboards can get complex)

    Lay down the basic support circuitry (power, ground, pull-up/down resistors, decoupling capacitors, jumpers) before interconnecting to other chips or fancier devices

    Build around the most complex device

    Build/test incrementally if possible

    Keep your coffee mug on a separate, preferably lower, surface

  4. That’s me over on Flickr. Thanks for the comments. Color coding was my next thought, but I’m copying all of jhoug’s “lessons” into my notebook so I’ll have ’em at hand the next time I get into the basement.

    This whole Makezine thing is such a treat. :-)

  5. For wires, i prefer very flexible ones. My favorite breadboard wires are cut from cat-5 cables.. because you have lined wires to play with too and they are very flexible. It’s nice to recycle torn up cat-5 too.

    I prefer flexible over stiff-bendy because they are much faster to plug-in and re-wire. You can also push them out of the way without accidently pulling the wire out.

    Here is a short tutorial i made on how to make your own:

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