Prototyping without parts lying around connected to wires?

I'm going through basics right now and during instances where I may use switches or potentiometers, I just end up with the item sitting horizontally on my table, connected by wires. In other words these types of items are not properly positioned or in place for their designed purpose. I don't have a permanent location for the switches/potentiometers yet but I want a better prototyping process.

Is there an alternative to the scenario I'm describing? An alternative to having some of these switches and potentiometers awkwardly connected by wire and sitting on the table?

You could use Solderless bread board, which I would not recommend or you could use strip board and solder everything up.

I usually use solderable breadboard (aka prototyping board) - the connections are more reliable than solderless breadboard - this of course has the downside of requiring you to solder everything, and complicates reusing parts - but most parts are so cheap from china now, that’s usually okay.

I wasn’t very happy with the quality of prototyping board I could buy and started getting my own versions manufactured, which I now sell on Tindie

Sometimes I use small pieces of it, and solder some part down to it (with any external parts it needs, particularly decoupling caps) along with pin header, and then use DuPont jumpers to connect that to other parts of the project; this looks like a rats nest, but female dupont jumpers on standard 0.1" pin header makes a very reliable connection. (male dupont connectors and female pin header is much less reliable).

Increasingly, I’ve been just making a custom PCBs for projects if i know what I need the hardware to look like - especially if I’m making more than one of something.

estevancarlos:
Is there an alternative to the scenario I'm describing? An alternative to having some of these switches and potentiometers awkwardly connected by wire and sitting on the table?

a cheap plastic children's pencil box.
(assuming you know what a pencil is ... :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley: )

if there are wires connected, just drill (or cut-away) a hole in the box.

best thing is to use "lego" style (toy) building blocks - you can adjust and change your 'board periphery' to whatever format is suitable for the latest project.

BabyGeezer:
best thing is to use "lego" style (toy) building blocks - you can adjust and change your 'board periphery' to whatever format is suitable for the latest project.

For prototyping where it's only going to run on my bench, I started using Lego and it's a pretty good solution. I didn't want to butcher my own Lego, so found someone on eBay selling 500g bags of assorted pieces.

Look there, bottom of the page

a man after my own heart !

jpskippy:
For prototyping where it's only going to run on my bench, I started using Lego and it's a pretty good solution. I didn't want to butcher my own Lego, so found someone on eBay selling 500g bags of assorted pieces.

i love this, brilliant !

especially the piece with the hole to hold the pot-knob !

Most of us are using this,

however I will buy Logo.

Most of us are using this,

No we are ***** well not.

jpskippy:
For prototyping where it's only going to run on my bench, I started using Lego and it's a pretty good solution. I didn't want to butcher my own Lego, so found someone on eBay selling 500g bags of assorted pieces.

This looks very interesting. In my mind I was wondering if an OFFICIAL product like this exists. Do you have more photos? Can you describe further what you're doing here? I'm not sure if I can see how some of these pieces are attached. It looks like a very creative solution though.

Grumpy_Mike:
No we are ***** well not.

That is interesting, so you go straight to PCB ?

The Lego looks interesting. The modules are connected to Lego bricks and they work as mechanical support and connection while electrical connection is by "normal" jumper wires?

I discovered double sided tape lately - it is great for semi-permanent connection of things together mechanically (i.e. batteries to a breadboard).

ted:
That is interesting, so you go straight to PCB ?

I don't know about him, but I use solderable protoboard - a compromise between breadboard (where the connections are not reliable) and a custom pcb, which has higher design time and the delay of waiting 10 days for the manufacturing and shipping.

Components are so cheap I usually don't worry about it being hard to reuse them.

I have always had awful luck with breadboard, the connections are flaky and you spend more time.debugging loose wires than actual design faulta

DrAzzy:
I don't know about him, but I use solderable protoboard - a compromise between breadboard (where the connections are not reliable) and a custom pcb, which has higher design time and the delay of waiting 10 days for the manufacturing and shipping.

Components are so cheap I usually don't worry about it being hard to reuse them.

I have always had awful luck with breadboard, the connections are flaky and you spend more time.debugging loose wires than actual design faulta

I'll keep that in mind. I'll certainly try solderable protoboards soon. I need to compare and contrast.

Has anyone used thin pieces of styrofoam to create firm placement areas for switches, buttons, etc?

estevancarlos:
This looks very interesting. In my mind I was wondering if an OFFICIAL product like this exists. Do you have more photos? Can you describe further what you're doing here? I'm not sure if I can see how some of these pieces are attached. It looks like a very creative solution though.

I'll take some more photos when I'm back at my bench. It's a combination of M2.5 nylon nuts & bolts, and small self-tapping screws. Not pretty, but it makes repositioning components really easy.

I can't find any official products that do the job. The closest I've found are Lego-compatible Uno mounts on Shapeways:

https://www.shapeways.com/product/TYCDGDTQC/classic-lego-arduino-uno-upright-mount
https://www.shapeways.com/product/C8RXBS3UA/lego-arduino-uno-mounting-brick-deluxe-version

Smajdalf:
The Lego looks interesting. The modules are connected to Lego bricks and they work as mechanical support and connection while electrical connection is by "normal" jumper wires?

Exactly. I really just wanted something that was mechanically pretty solid, would allow repositioning of parts easily and would hold components like pots and rotary switches in place (which is also what the OP is trying to solve)

BabyGeezer:
i love this, brilliant !

especially the piece with the hole to hold the pot-knob !

Thanks for the compliment. It's really... what are the words... a terrible hack. But I like it :slight_smile:

Regarding the lego prototyping concept, there's a potential product here that would solve many problems. Someone get on it.

ted:
That is interesting, so you go straight to PCB ?

No I hardly ever go to PCB unless I want to make more than ten of a thing. I use strip board and a scalpel and I can use surface mount components with that.

Look at some of the projects I have done on my web site like this one RFID Sequencer

Nice job, however you are using Breadboards, when you need them, I thought you not using them at all.

jpskippy:
Thanks for the compliment. It's really... what are the words... a terrible hack. But I like it :slight_smile:

i wouldn't call it a "terrible hack" - i'd guess most kids who played a lot with Lego would end up being engineers and 'makers', so it's really a natural progression !

and now with 3D printing becoming so accessible, "bridging pieces" can easily be made to make "non-Lego" parts fit just nicely with the Lego ones.

incidentally, i've tried a few "knock-off" brands from China (Lego-lookalikes) and the measurements are just slightly different, so one can't mix the two brands - they either won't fit going one way, or it's too loose in the other direction.

EDIT: "tight" to "loose"

jpskippy:
For prototyping where it's only going to run on my bench, I started using Lego and it's a pretty good solution. I didn't want to butcher my own Lego, so found someone on eBay selling 500g bags of assorted pieces.

Brilliant.... :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:
You need to add it to here;

Just going to ebay...

Tom.. :slight_smile: