How to move from arduino to physical prototype

Hi - I’ve been reading a bit about moving from Arduino to PCB and it seems a bit daunting. For now, all I really want to do is take something I’ve built, and make a few changes so that I can actually create a casing for it and make sure everything stays connected.

I’ve attached a photo of my project. What I am trying to do is create a box, where 4 pushbuttons sit in a box, with LEDs next to them. I will probably create foamboard cutouts for the spaces where the pushbuttons and leds sit. The wiring for the push buttons and the LEDs need to be hidden below the foam board - which is where I get stuck.

What do I need to do to essentially “lengthen” the wires for the pushbuttons and LEDs, and make sure all the components stay secure in the breadboard (the push buttons in particular like to pop out)? Is there a way to do this without making a PCB? I understand the concept of soldering components into protoboard, but as far as cutting / printing the circuits or whatever, it is really confusing to me.

I’d appreciate any guidance. If you see anything wrong with my wiring setup too, I’d love a learning experience on that as well. Thanks!

The breadboard method of making connections is only for experimenting, and extremely unreliable in the long term. If you want your circuit to tolerate any sort of shaking, dropping, exposure to temperature and humidity changes or other abuse, you need to put everything on a PCB.

For the case where you have buttons and indicators that are not on the PCB, the connecting wires need to be soldered to the PCB and glued in place with hot glue so that they don't vibrate and break the connection. Take apart a sturdy electronic toy sometime and see how the professionals do it.

I think that what you need is this kind of protoboards:

You have the 2 things you need soldered components without designing the PCB.

Do you need USB connectivity?

If you do, get a Nano and mount it on a piece of stripboard (or protoboard; much the same).

If you do not need USB, then exactly the same thing with a Pro Micro, which is smaller again.

Actually, these boards generally come without the “header” pins attached, and you can probably just solder the relevant external components directly to the board.

Except perhaps if you are going to use those tiny pushbuttons - you would want to mount those on a scrap of stripboard.

They make "solderable breadboards"... pcbs that have the exact same pinout/connections as regular breadboards. Here's one at Sparkfun. These are handy if you've got a breadboard setup that works, and rather than completely redo your design for stripboard or perfboard, you just set up what you already did.

You'll still have to use some longer wires and hot glue your switches.

Please, before you make this into a permanent solution, put some resistors in series with your LEDs. Otherwise failure is just a matter of time.