5 Breadboarding Quick Tips


If you have some free time over the holidays, perhaps you’re planning on finally diving into some electronics projects. If you’re new to hobby electronics, you may be unfamiliar with breadboards and how they work. Or, if you’re already a seasoned electronics enthusiast, there is always room for hiding a few more fancy tricks up your sleeve. Here are a few breadboarding quick tips that you might find useful regardless of your skill level.

What is a Breadboard?

Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.
This graphic describing how a breadboard works, and what all of the components are called, was put together by the wonderful Jody Culkin. It was used for a breadboarding workshop that we’ve run at Maker Faire.

Use Staples as Jumpers

wj3ndkjt6hhukl4jFor short tiehole-to-tiehole jumping on a breadboard, use staples. They are the perfect distance. In this Make: Project, Sean Ragan explains how to prepare the staples and how to use them.

Find Your ICs’ Pin-Out Label

wsfgddlThere are now pin-out labels for many common microcontrollers and other ICs used in electronics. Do a search on “[your MCU] + pin-out + label.” By attaching a label to the top of the chip you are working with on your breadboard, you can see all of the pin-outs at a glance without having to refer back to its datasheet.

Need an Extra Supply Line to Your Benchtop Power Supply?

paper_clip_power_supplyAttach a heavy duty paper clip to the main power terminals and then attach your probes and clip-on power cables to that. Just be very careful about not shorting anything out!

Breadboard Circuit Tester

led_breadbaordtesterTo create a little breadboard circuit for testing output pins, solder up an LED with the proper resistor value and plug it into a two-pin female header. Now to test, simply plug this into your output pins to test for continuity.

Breadboard Battery Holder

breadboardbatteryholderYou can make a quick battery holder on a breadboard by using two two-pin headers next to each other with a coin cell battery in-between. Just make sure to keep the polarity of the battery oriented properly.


Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn
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