Newbie Electronics Guide: The Breadboard

When I first started electronics the tool that I was the most glad to have around during those long nights sitting in the lab trying to solve a problem on a circuit board I built was my breadboard. The breadboard is a great tool to have around whenever you want to prototype an idea, or debug a previously built circuit.

The breadboard is simply a board that allows for through hole components to easily be connected together into a circuit without soldering or permanently wiring components together.

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Breadboards come in all different sizes from small to very large. some of the larger breadboards also have terminals in which wires from power and ground can be easily connected, but more on that later. A breadboard consists of rows and columns of sockets that allow electricity to pass between them. There are two fields in a breadboard, the power rails which run vertically and the component field which have the sockets in the same row electrically connected.

When placing components on a breadboard the components must have their pins connected to different rows to avoid shorting the terminals together.

Power and ground connections are connected to the power rails which allow easy connection to the pins of our components by adding wire jumpers from the component rows to the power rails. Some larger more complex breadboards have terminals which allow for cables from a power supply to be connected to the breadboard easily with minimal or no jumpers at all.

The breadboard sockets have a spacing of 0.1 inch (2.54 mm) which accommodate most through hole integrated circuits. In order to connect ICs correctly to a breadboard they must straddle multiple rows. 

When deciding to buy a breadboard the bigger the better. More room allows for prototyping more complicated circuits. smaller breadboards can be used for smaller subcircuits that can be connected to a main circuit on a larger breadboard. Breadboards can be purchased from most electronics sellers such as Adafruit and Sparkfun. Now that you know all about breadboards go out and start designing some new circuits. Happy building!