Working with Breadboard

Always use solid hook-up wire when working with breadboards. Because strands can break off and cause shorts beneath the board — which is difficult to troubleshoot, especially when using new components or circuit designs — avoid using stranded wire when working with a breadboard.

CAT5 and Ethernet cable, typically twenty-six AWG solid wire in a twisted pair, are useful and easy to come by. All you need to do is remove the insulation to reveal the wires, which you can then cut and strip as you see fit. A mere fifty feet of scrap CAT5 or Ethernet cable can last for years.

You’ll quickly grow tired of stripping jumper wires all the time if you work with breadboard often. If this is the case you should consider buying jumper wire kits; there are plenty of affordable options for male-to-male, male-to-female, and female-to-female kits.

The holes on a typical breadboard are spaced in increments of .100” and this spacing is perfect for inserting headers, sockets, and so forth on the board. Plan on buying some .100” single-row headers (straight and right-angle): these are helpful when you need to create common circuit modules for your breadboard. Dual-row headers are used to plug a programmer into the solderless breadboard. However, you can create dual-row headers so, if you plan on buying just one kind of header, make sure you get straight single-row .100” headers.

You can also attempt making your own breadboard. Obtain panels of different shapes and sizes and individual bus strips. You’ll need a sufficiently large solid plate on which to mount your components, because you’ll probably want to plug some components in horizontally and other vertically. Certain circuits are set up and never subsequently changed (e.g., clocks, microcontrollers with reset circuits, programming headers, etc.). Circuits that never change should be moved to modules. Arranging your own breadboard enables you to quickly and easily customize it.

You’ll need a power source and a means of distributing that power to each of the breadboard’s bus strips. With regard to the power source, you can find pre-built power supplies, wall adapters, or you can even build your own power supply.
Nick Jakubowski


George Leger has a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, worked in private industry pioneering surface-mount technology and in government research labs for twenty years, published several papers on surface-mount technology, co-authored papers published in national symposiums on accelerator technology, was past president of SMTA and an adjunct professor at the community college level, holds a patent, and is a certified microchip design partner, serving as a consultant to many companies developing electronic circuits.

Leave a Reply