A protoboard, also known as a breadboard or a test board, is a plastic board with holes where you insert the pins of the electronic components to interlock them with each other. The assembly is simple and allows you to assemble and disassemble your circuit projects whenever you want, since it does not involve soldering on a PCB. In addition, several protobard boards can be connected to form a larger board if your project requires it.
Precisely the name protoboard comes from prototype-board, because thanks to the fact that the plastic housing has holes with contacts connected by lines to each other by means of vertical and horizontal tracks, allows the connection and disconnection of devices easily. That’s why it’s the element that can’t be missing in the house or workshop of any electronic fan or maker, since it allows you to test your designs.
That would prevent you from recording tracks on a PCB and making them permanent to create the necessary layout for a circuit. If you use perforated boards (perfboard or stripboard), you won’t have to solder either, so it will be extremely easy to assemble, relocate components, disassemble or replace any element of the protoboard…
The holes on the breadboard are specially placed so that you can insert any type of DIP circuit and other type of electronic elements such as transistors, resistors, capacitors, LEDs, diodes, etc. What you can’t use is other chips that have pins on their four sides because, as you can see in the next section, the lines are connected in a specific way. Neither insert the DIP chip in certain directions, because if the pins on each side are connected to each other it would not be the right thing to do…
The architecture is usually quite simple. If you know it you will know how to connect your elements properly, because when it is unknown, at the beginning it is frequent that it generates confusion and your circuits do not work and even get damaged by putting it polarization in an inadequate way because you do not know how the rows and columns of holes are connected.
To connect them properly, you must first imagine the plate as a hole table. With a series of vertical columns forming the nodes and a series of rows. The top and bottom rows or buses should also be highlighted (some also have some in the middle), which is usually used for linking or for power lines (voltage and GND).
How to connect the components properly?
By example, in the above connection image you have:
- Buses: two up and two down in order to bring the power to your circuit properly. You can use Arduino’s voltage and GND sockets to integrate your board with a proboboard and from there run wires to the nodes to feed the entire circuit you mount. By the way, in this case, although it is not common, there is also a central bus you can use.
- Nodes: the nodes are the columns that are connected by a connector to each other. That is, the whole column of holes first will be electrically interlaced. The second one is the same, but not the first one with the second one. Note that the nodes are divided into the upper and lower ones, and both have no electronic connection. That’s why the correct way to insert a chip is not aligning its two pinned sides with the nodes, but doing it horizontally and some pins must be in the upper nodes and the other side in the lower ones. That way, each pin on the chip will be on a different track.
- Interconnection: as you can see, to interconnect the buses with the nodes you need to lay cables. Also to connect several different nodes or columns.
- Connecting several boards: although the image does not show it, the boards have connectors that fit together like a puzzle so that the connected boards do not move, but there will be no electrical connection between them if you do not create it by laying wires from one to another.
- Numbering: in some cases the nodes are numbered to make it easier for you, and the buses are also marked with the + and – symbol so that you don’t get confused, although you can really connect the power as you prefer, as long as the polarization of your circuit is correct.
Where to buy?
You can find them in many electronics stores, also on Amazon. They come in various sizes, for example the 400-hole protoboard or the which are somewhat larger. You know that you can buy one or more to link them together to create a much larger protoboard if you need it…
From now on, the protoboard will be your best partner for Arduino!