What is a Breadboard?

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With all the powerful and fun to use development boards out there, there’s a lot you can do without a breadboard. However, if you’re setting up small circuits for learning the basics of electronics or need a place for peripheral components, breadboard is a great tool to have.

What is a Breadboard?

Different breadboard sizes - mini, half, full, and full size with metal plate and binding posts.
Different breadboard sizes - mini, half, full, and full size with metal plate and binding posts.

A Breadboard is simply a board for prototyping or building circuits on. It allows you to place components and connections on the board to make circuits without soldering. The holes in the breadboard take care of your connections by physically holding onto parts or wires where you put them and electrically connecting them inside the board. The ease of use and speed are great for learning and quick prototyping of simple circuits. More complex circuits and high frequency circuits are less suited to breadboarding. Breadboard circuits are also not ideal for long term use like circuits built on perfboard (protoboard) or PCB (printed circuit board), but they also don’t have the soldering (protoboard), or design and manufacturing costs (PCBs).

Why is it called a Breadboard?

The evolution of breadboard - wooden bread cutting board, perfboard, solderless breadboard.
The evolution of breadboard - wooden bread cutting board, perfboard, solderless breadboard.

In the before times, boards used in the kitchen for cutting bread were used by young circuit designers to build circuits on with screws or nails driven into the board with wires wrapped around them to complete circuits. This was an improvement on ‘deadbug’ or direct solder connections, since the circuit could be nailed down and secure as well as easily modified if necessary for debugging or enhancements. The name has stuck through to today, even though placing circuits on boards for bread is only done for Instagram posts.

Why do you use a BreadBoard?

As mentioned before, a breadboard is handy because you can set up circuits quickly and temporarily to test them and move on to a more permanent arrangement after investigating how it works on the breadboard. They are great for hobbyists and tinkerers to set up projects as a standalone device, or as a peripheral to an Arduino, Raspberry Pi, LaunchPad, BeagleBone, and many other development boards. They come in many sizes to fit projects large and small. Breadboards are also inexpensive, and the parts that work with them are also typically inexpensive too. If you want to make your project more permanent, moving from a design on a breadboard to protoboard or PCB will be easier than skipping to those harder to manipulate boards.

If you’re just getting started, or are well down the path of electronic design, you’ll run across breadboards. Getting to know their strengths of quick and easy circuit creation, and their weaknesses of impermanence and limitations in terms of power handling and RLC (resistance, inductance, capacitance) effects will help you create many fun and useful projects later.

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Authored By

Gary Crowell

Avid biker, audio enthusiast, tinkerer, and radio/autonomous car racer. Also work with PCBs, electronic/mechanical design, and programming, so I really get interested if the project is mechatronic.

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