The Basics of Breadboards: Definition, Components, and Application

If you are just getting into electronics and building basic electronic circuits, a breadboard should be part of your toolbox. Breadboards are especially useful if you are modifying circuits since they do not require soldering to use them. In this article, we will tell you what a breadboard is and how to use one to build a circuit.

What is a Breadboard?

A breadboard is a device that lets you quickly connect, operate, or test elementary electronic circuits. Breadboards do not require soldering. The breadboard has an array of sockets which are used to connect the leads of circuit components together within the board. This makes breadboards a useful device for fast prototyping or modifying the circuit you previously built. Breadboards are available in different sizes, based on the number of tie points. Breadboards can also be used to connect signal and power connections in breadboarding experiments.

Prototyping circuits is one of the most common uses of breadboards. After you design your circuit, you can temporarily build it on a breadboard. You may want to change out some components to see how it will react. They are also used to test out new integrated circuits (ICs). As more of today’s ICs are highly integrated, that is, combining different components on a single IC, a breadboard is a good place to test it and experiment with its capabilities.

The Components of a Breadboard

Solderless breadboards have five main components:
  • Main Body: consists of a perforated block made of ABS plastic with an array of connection points and metal spring clips located beneath the board.
  • Power Entry posts: these are the power terminals where you apply power to your breadboard.
  • Terminal strips: these strips electrically connect the connection sockets in a particular row. This allows you to connect components at the same electrical point without soldering.
  • Power rails: these are connection sockets that run the length of the breadboard and are electrically connected beneath the board. Power rails allow you to connect your circuit to power at any point on the breadboard. Power rails are labeled positive and negative to indicate what power leg you are connecting to your circuit.
  • Connection sockets: this is where you insert a piece of wire or a lead of a component into the breadboard. It's held in place by a clip at the bottom of the board.

How Do You Use a Breadboard?

The first thing you need to do is design the circuit that you want to build on the breadboard. This can be done on your computer or, for simple circuits, you can draw the circuit on a paper napkin. The next thing you need to do is obtain all the components, hookup wires and the power source for the circuit. You can power your circuit in different ways: a battery, an external DC power supply, a benchtop power supply, a USB connection, or wall power adapter. The next thing to do is build your circuit. Connect component legs that are the same electrical point in the same row. You can use a different row to connect the remaining legs of your components. Once you have built the circuit, connect it to the positive and negative sides of the power rails. Finally, connect power and the ground wire to the power entry and ground posts. Before powering up, check to ensure you have breadboarded the circuit correctly. Then apply power and you're done.


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