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Topic: Prototyping Part II - Beyond The Breadboard. Suggestions? (Read 2 times) previous topic - next topic

JoeN

Jul 18, 2012, 09:46 pm Last Edit: Jul 18, 2012, 09:49 pm by JoeN Reason: 1
I've got some circuits I have made on breadboards that I want to "keep" (and I want my breadboard back!) but I don't want to go full out and make or manufacture a PCB for them.  What is the best way of doing this for a circuit that will keep for years if not damaged but is also still a fairly informal process that requires simple hand equipment?

For my first circuit I used one of these "solderable breadboards":

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0040Z6OYC

You put your components on it, wires on the top, use the bus strips to connect wires to components or components to components just like on a breadboard.  This works nicely but your component density is low because you are limited in placing components, like on a breadboard.  The power rails are real nice.

For my second circuit I used one of these "pad per hole" (one sided) boards:

http://www.taydaelectronics.com/prototyping-board-142x74mm.html

It's hard to see but there is one copper pad per hole and solder sticks nicely to it.  These boards are super, they come individually wrapped in pastic and are nice and clean.  These are nice because you can put components anywhere.  But there is no bussing.  Wires go on the top again and you connect them to a component by bringing it through an adjacent hole and creating a solder bridge between that hole/pad and the adjacent hole/pad that the component leg is at.

Overall these seem sturdy, but I am not sure I am doing it the best way.  Suggestions or comments would be appreciated.

I've gotten suggestions to wire wrap, but I have not been able to force myself to try that yet even though I have bought some sockets, wire, and a tool.
I have only come here seeking knowledge. Things they would not teach me of in college.

abrookfield

http://www.amazon.com/ST3U-StripBoard-3U-Uncut-Strips-Sided/dp/B0040Z30R6/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1342644084&sr=1-1&keywords=strip+board

You need to "drill out" the board strips to make a no-connect.. just ilke your solderable breadboard but maybe a little more flexible on item placement
www.reeftopper.com

zenwebb

Perfboard/stripboard is pretty much the standard way to do it. The only place to go from there is to make a PCB.

Adafruit does make some really cool 'in-between' boards that are sort of a cross between breadboard and stripboard, but are a little more pricey: https://www.adafruit.com/products/571

I prefer perfboard myself; it's relatively cheap and simple to work with - stripboard tends to trip me up from time to time, so I like the flexibility that perfboard gives you to freely wire things as you want.
Grad student, creative technologist, OSHW engineer
http://jason-webb.info

JoeN

#3
Jul 18, 2012, 11:17 pm Last Edit: Jul 18, 2012, 11:28 pm by JoeN Reason: 1
Can anyone tell me if, for non-professional projects, if I should care about Epoxy Fiber(FR4) vs. Phenolic(XPC)?  At Veroboard there is a big difference in price between otherwise similar perf/stripboards.  What is the difference between these materials?

http://www.veroboard.com/4x10-4000d-phenolic-pitch-01-254mm-p-26.html
http://www.veroboard.com/4x10-4000d-epoxy-fiber-pitch-01-254mm-p-25.html

OK, I just read the Wikipedia pages on these materials.  FR4 is superior, I can see why.  But does it really matter for an at-home, non-hostile environment project?  Does the "inferior" electrical properties of Phenolic even matter for low voltages?  Do high speed circuits operate worse on Phenolic vs FR4?
I have only come here seeking knowledge. Things they would not teach me of in college.

spcomputing

I like the Strip-Boards the best.  Perf-Boards have a tenancy to lift pads if you do not have a good iron.  Strips have all that length of copper to conduct heat and not pull from the substrate.  Also, translation from breadboard to strip-board is natural.

Just "cut" the strips with an engraver to disconnect the strip from the circuit.  Simples.
http://www.spcomputing.com

DuaneB

Hi,
I have third suggestion which i have not used myself but am interested in using - wire wrap.

As for as i can tell it uses matrix board but because you wire directly to the components rather than bridging to adjacent pads you can build a more compact prototype.

Duane B

rcarduino.blogspot.com
Read this
http://rcarduino.blogspot.com/2012/04/servo-problems-with-arduino-part-1.html
then watch this
http://rcarduino.blogspot.com/2012/04/servo-problems-part-2-demonstration.html

Rcarduino.blogspot.com

CrossRoads

Here's a wirewrap example.
Maybe it could be managed with point to point soldered wires. I wouldn't want to try it tho.
And  because I was tweaking the design as I went, I never got around to making a PCB for this. But I do have 5 different wirewrap versions.
Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years. Check out the ATMega1284P based Bobuino and other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17.
Arduino for Teens available at Amazon.com.

DuaneB

Hi,
   I was wondering how you fix components, I see that you have basically tacked one or two pins with solder just to hold components in place and then used wire wrap for all of the connections - seems simple enough and healthier, it cant be good having flux and solder fumes around young ones.

I am going to give this a go, its better for me and the kids, much easier to strip down as well I assume.

Other than matrix board, suitable gauge wire and a wire wrap tool is there anything else I would need beyond a typical soldering set up (pliers, iron etc) what about component sockets, I assume that its only the flat legs of ICs which require dedicated wire wrap sockets ?

Thanks

Duane.

rcarduino.blogspot.com
Read this
http://rcarduino.blogspot.com/2012/04/servo-problems-with-arduino-part-1.html
then watch this
http://rcarduino.blogspot.com/2012/04/servo-problems-part-2-demonstration.html

Rcarduino.blogspot.com

CrossRoads

I use wirewrap socket strips for just about everything, no messing around with dedicated socket sizes.
Typically I just solder the 2 ends, and for a longer strip, one more in the middle.

You can install whatever you want in sockets. I do everything so component changes are easy if needed.

If I have header pins, I use those for off-board connections (such as on lower left), and use female-crimp terminated wires to slide onto the pins.

30 guage wire wrap wire, hand wirewrap tool, small pliers to hold the wire as you start twisting it on a post to keep it from pulling tight around corners. Pair of sharp wire cutters.
I like the OK Industries WSU-30M, built in wirewrap stripper. Have been using the same one since the 80's.
http://www.jonard.com/jonard-ecommerce/control/product/~product_id=10021;jsessionid=DF9148B52F76B4C04BD35429FE708E87.jvm1#
Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years. Check out the ATMega1284P based Bobuino and other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17.
Arduino for Teens available at Amazon.com.

majenko

Personally I etch my own boards.  Yes, I know you said you didn't want to do that, but you really should consider it as an option.

Using a laser printer and laser photo paper you can get pretty reasonable toner transfer etches with practice.  Single-sided SRBP is cheap, and you can buy etchant by the gallon for next to nothing.  It can be messy sometimes, so do it in the garage. ;)

It will open up a wider range of components to you - you can start using SMD devices properly without breakout boards - so you will have much more flexibility in your design options.
Get 10% off all 4D Systems TFT screens this month: use discount code MAJENKO10

Docedison

Given my leanings towards laziness the Adafruit "https://www.adafruit.com/products/571  board is pricey BUT IF IT WORKS on a breadboard just transfer the parts and use "Electric Glue" (Thanks Grumpy Mike) and you are done. It seems silly to me to try to "Convert a working breadboard to Verostrip or any other type of "Pre-Fab" PCB's and to save a few pennies or a dollar or two on the price only to have to put more money (TIME) into "converting" a working breadboard into a working "Prototype is foolish. Breadboards are difficult to use electronically due to power distribution and signal integrity issues but once those issues are dealt with ... Hopefully it works by then and the next step is simply to copy the breadboard. The other thing I hate is waste and these parts (available in 1/4 - 1/2 and full size) are perfect to make a transfer... Providing that your breadboard is similar to these PCB's. I've made many pc boards both in my garage or sometimes when I was single in the kitchen as well as production both high quantity and short run fabrication. Many times I have used the bread board layout as a guide for parts placement in doing the PCB layout.. all too many times a dollar or two saved in the cost of materials translates to an hour of time added to a project in constructing the final device.

Doc
--> WA7EMS <--
"The solution of every problem is another problem." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I do answer technical questions PM'd to me with whatever is in my clipboard

JoeN

Thanks for all the suggestions.  So far we have Wire Wrap, Photo Transfer Your Own PCB, Manufacture PCB, Stripboard, Perfboard, Adafruit Board, and the Solderable Breadboard PCB I mentioned.

One thing that has not been mentioned has been CNC routing of copper clad boards.  Does anyone do this?  I would think there might be a turnkey system out there for that but I have not seen it.  I have found some roll your own systems that look like people have made their own, and sometimes for very low cost.  How well do those board turn out compared to the photo etch methods?
I have only come here seeking knowledge. Things they would not teach me of in college.

Docedison

Very well some do use photo techniques, I have used both positive and negative photo methods even using the sun instead of an UV lamp (Contact prints done @ 1 - 1 scale) I have used lithographic methods as well as tape and die cut "Footprints". The current "Laser Printed" methods for "printing" PCB artwork is but an adaption of photo methods to modern technology. A "Bubble (Air) Etcher" is Extremely easy to make, using the filter tank from an Aquarium filter and the air pump used to aerate the aquarium water to pump air through a piece of tubing glued to the inside bottom of the tank makes an etcher that will etch a board in about 10 minutes. Ferric chloride is the best etchant I've used although Very Messy and Very Permanent in staining hands and clothing... Etc. Also Very difficult to dispose of the spent etchant as the material is very toxic and Very chemically active. The Perchloride etchants are better although somewhat less effective and still toxic. it is readily possible to design a circuit, do the completed schematic, route the board and make a working PC board in a day or less (4 - 6 hours) depending on complexity and level of experience. It would take me about 1 - 2 hours to take a Pro Mini form factor board and modify the available public domain (for free here in the playground) artwork for my project. As a side thought... the Pro mini's can occasionally be found for $10.00 US on Ebay. I just bought 2 of them and had sketches working on both in less than an hour... including the time spent in adding/changing pins on the FTDI board and the 2 mini's and the total parts cost was under $30.00 US... for 2 '328, 16 Mhz 5V boards that will plug into my final design and when I'm done I still have the FTDI board for the next project. Some times it is better to adapt working assemblies than it is to re-do the work done by others better suited to the work than it is to do it your self. This was the reason for the Mini's and the suggestion. Of course if the application is simple than it is better to use a chip and crystal or internal oscillator and whatever required I/O. My "Breaking point" is 5 Pins, If I need more than 5 pins on the chip for I/O exclusively I tend to go for the assembled Mini. In years past if a Basic Stamp and a few lines of code fixed the challenge... Thats what I used. For "one of" types of issues making a board is "cool" but largely a waste of time since you are repeating work already done and available "Off the shelf". COTS (common off the shelf) boards are available for nearly every application and many times the most direct solution. Pc boards are not difficult to  make, the difficult choice is always in selecting the "correct" (best) technology to sort out the issue at hand. Experience and personal "comfort" levels are always the best choice. Cost must be secondary to the central issue and that is of course the simplest, most direct method to produce a working item. Learning how to make circuit boards is great and a real ego booster but unless you intend to  make more than one or two items a questionable use of time unless the Arduino is a stepping stone into an electronics career... as a Programmer knowledge of PCB fabrication is useful but not a prime requirement... However it is an enjoyable task and GREAT for the Ego... Form direct personal experience. You also might give some thought to a Dremel tool (hand die grinder) and a "Drill Press" adapter... I''ve used small Carbide end mill cutters to route (literally) small PCB's with a Dremel tool and a drill press made for the Dremel motor tool and occasionally used that "cable"' tool to do it "By Hand" also to "fix" minor imperfections left by the etching process. Remember it is the finished project that matters and time saved in the component fabrication can be better used in the packaging of the final item... I just wish there was a "Simple" method for mounting and using a touch sensitive LCD that looked good and properly protected the LCD. Panels for projects can be fabricated from double sided PCB  material (Available in thickness's of 2 - 3 mm) and legends/labels/artwork can be etched and plated or chemically treated to change color too. If Carefully cut the double sided material  can be soldered very successfully or small angle brackets and fasteners used for final assembly. Epoxy based paints are good for surfaces that will see a lot of handling and commercial boxed are available for uses where the elements outside play a part in the use or exposure of the item being fabricated... Imagination is as important is as experience in producing a successful device... Experience will come with perseverance... IMO

Doc
--> WA7EMS <--
"The solution of every problem is another problem." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I do answer technical questions PM'd to me with whatever is in my clipboard

silasmoeckel


Thanks for all the suggestions.  So far we have Wire Wrap, Photo Transfer Your Own PCB, Manufacture PCB, Stripboard, Perfboard, Adafruit Board, and the Solderable Breadboard PCB I mentioned.

One thing that has not been mentioned has been CNC routing of copper clad boards.  Does anyone do this?  I would think there might be a turnkey system out there for that but I have not seen it.  I have found some roll your own systems that look like people have made their own, and sometimes for very low cost.  How well do those board turn out compared to the photo etch methods?


It's works pretty well, it's especially good for heavy copper boards (2+ oz) that I use for high amperage work.  They can have some problems with very fine traces and fiberglass pcb's eat cutting bits.  As a bonus they also can cut masks to make applying paste if you ever move up to using an oven.  Price can be a bit of an issue check your local maker spaces they often have this sort of kit if you do not mind sharing.

dc42

I have built several high density digital boards using Verowire, http://www.verotl.com/vero-wire. The system comprises a pen that carries a spool of fine polyurethane-insulated wire, together with plastic combs for routing the wiring. You place the IC sockets on perfboard, or (preferably) on cards that already have power rails and pads for decoupling capacitors. You attach the combs to the board underneath the chips, then you use the wiring pen to make the connections, using the combs to keep the wiring tidy. When you have finished a run, you solder the joints, melting the insulation on the wire. It's much faster than wire wrap because you don't need to cut the wires to length.

The only limitation I am aware of is that the wire is quite thin, so you can't use it for high-current connections.
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