Alternatives to breadboards

I sometimes read that breadboards are unreliable and not worth the trouble. But I find them very useful for quickly building and breaking down circuits. Maybe my breadboards are still new enough not to cause me problems. Although if it’s only a matter of use and wear replacement is an option.

But what are the alternatives? Solder everything you want to test?

Yep.

Or, just be gentle to your breadboards. So no huge component leads of high currents (order of 200mA+ is better to solder).

Just buy a new breadboard when the old one becomes unusable.

I still use one that is over 35 years old, it is a SK10.
I never plug large diameter leads in the holes near the center.

I solder everything, with prototyping board (like the stuff in my tindie shop; you've seen that I'm sure - I've also got big 5x10" sheets of it with just through-holes that the company my father worked at used to prototype top of the line test equipment, back when you could prototype top of the line test equipment with through-hole protoboard, which gives you an idea how old it is). My experience has been that the time savings from breadboard is wasted several times over debugging what you think are problems, but turn out to just be loose connections.

For non-permanent connections (like between boards and stuff) , I use male 0.1" header and F-to-F dupont jumpers.

I use this now and then:

DrAzzy:
I solder everything, with prototyping board...

Do you find that parts get damaged with repeated soldering/unsoldering? Or do you just treat items like resistors, capacitors, LEDs and the proto boards themselves as one-use only?

DrAzzy:
...For non-permanent connections (like between boards and stuff) , I use male 0.1" header and F-to-F dupont jumpers.

I find that the vast majority of breadboard connections are of this type. So female jumpers to pins instead of male jumpers to a breadboard is more reliable? What do you do if you want to connect several jumpers to the same pin?

There are good and bad breadboards. The one I bought one at a local Frys store that works really well. Very easy to plug in and remove parts. On the other hand, I've tried several cheaper breadboard from ebay. I'm pretty sure they are all from the same manufacturer, but some, the sockets are not aligned to the breadboard holes so it is hard to plug in parts, while some are just fine. The only way to find out if a breadboard is good or not is to buy it and try it.

if your circuit is really small and can be limited to 1sq in area (does not have to be 1"x1"), you can get pcb made for $5.

doughboy:
if your circuit is really small and can be limited to 1sq in area (does not have to be 1"x1"), you can get pcb made for $5.

I'm not asking about wiring up a finished project. I'm in the mode where I'm investigating different configurations of multiple parts and changing things around numerous times in a relatively short period of time.

jboyton:
I'm not asking about wiring up a finished project. I'm in the mode where I'm investigating different configurations of multiple parts and changing things around numerous times in a relatively short period of time.

who said a pcb has to be a finished project? you asked for an alternative. you can design the pcb to have different pin header connection options, etc, just limited by your imagination. granted it is not fast unless you pay a premium, but if you are looking for a good connection, nothing beats a soldered connection. I know how an undetected loose connection can cause hours, even days of debugging.

anyway, going back to breadboard, pay for a good breadboard (the one I got from Frys is Elenco brand). not worth the headache to save a few $.

good luck.

doughboy:
who said a pcb has to be a finished project? you asked for an alternative. you can design the pcb to have different pin header connection options, etc, just limited by your imagination.

I’d like to see a one square inch PCB that would allow me to mix and match the different processors, displays, sensors and discrete components I’ve been working with. I think it would end up looking like a breadboard.

Are you talking about these, I am confused:
HERE

I think Dr. Azzy was talking about something like those proto boards. I’ve looked for those and could only find pretty small ones for sale. The female-female jumper wires also seem a little more difficult to source.

Doughboy was talking about having small custom PCBs made.

jboyton:
I'd like to see a one square inch PCB that would allow me to mix and match the different processors, displays, sensors and discrete components I've been working with. I think it would end up looking like a breadboard.

are you connecting processor chip directly to breadboard?
If you are able to create a circuit in 1 sq in, the price is $5. You can of course get pcb at any size at a higher price, if connection is important regardless of cost. Like I said, it is limited to one's creativity.

good luck with your circuit. ;^)

F to F make you own:

F-F DuPont jumpers are readily available and cheap on eBay (search dupont jumpers)

What I was in taking about is what is sometimes called solderless breadboard. It's like the roadrunner boards, only ideally with copper on both sides. It's hard to source - that's why I have been having things like that made.

I buy bags of 50 wires and crimp housings from www.pololu.com, make up any wiring harness you need.
You can also buy these, with 1-pin headers, and break off the number of wires you need, as long as the length suits your needs,

and you can always de-pin the 1x1 housing and use the terminated wires in multi-pin housings.

doughboy:
are you connecting processor chip directly to breadboard?

I've been evaluating several different processors, each on a simple DIP adapter board. So, yes, the processors have been plugged into the breadboard. Like this:

Because of the poor reputation of breadboards, I have never used one and was initially surprised they are being used so much with Arduinos. I think the poor reputation comes from their use with circuits containing several integrated circuits (in DIL packaging). However when breadboards are used with Arduinos there are relatively very few connecting wires and few discrete components. Also there has become much more use of jumpers than single-conductor wire.

I always use stripboard such as the Veroboard brand. However I am not "quickly building and breaking down circuits" as mentioned in the original post.

jboyton:
Do you find that parts get damaged with repeated soldering/unsoldering? Or do you just treat items like resistors, capacitors, LEDs and the proto boards themselves as one-use only?

I don't find parts are usually damaged by repeated soldering. I often keep the wires of discrete components fairly long so they can be unsoldered and re-used. It's challenging unsoldering 14 and 16 pin DIL integrated circuits but it can be done. I therefore sometimes use IC sockets. I have a desoldering pump ("solder sucker") that can be very helpful.

I am tempted to try this approach for my next project.

Archibald:
I am tempted to try this approach for my next project.

It would be faster to breadboard it. :slight_smile:

jboyton:
It would be faster to breadboard it. :slight_smile:

Yes it would be faster to breadboard it, but the prototype I'm working on at present is going in a project box for functional evaluation by a client. It's still a prototype: I may need to change resistors etc.