Part 2: The BreadBoard.

This tutorial is targeted towards new hobbyists who have never used a breadboard before. Essentially, a breadboard is a tool for creating prototypes of basic low-power circuits without damaging components. This is nice especially for one who is new to electronics, because it gives you the flexibility to experiment with a variety of circuit layouts and ideas without having to constantly purchase new parts.

Here is an example of a breadboard similar to the one I use:
breadboard

and here is a more clear image of what the hole layout looks like on one of the blocks.
The above example has 4 blocks like this.
breadboard2

Along each side of the block there are 2 vertical strips, one marked with blue and one marked with red. These are your bus strips. The bus strips run the entire vertical length of the block to provide power and ground to the terminal strips (or component area) in between. The component area contains several horizontal strips with a gap in between. This is the area all of your components are going to be placed in.

Here is a simple diagram of a typical circuit layout:
strips
Notice the NE555 in the middle of the component area, straddling the gap. This is one of the best design features of a breadboard. that gap is the standard size of most Dual-In-Line Pin components, each pin connects to a terminal strip, allowing other components to interface with the device.

The red and black lines indicate how the bus strips are laid out, the blue lines show how the terminal strips are laid out. Generally speaking, a device with 2 wires/pins (let’s say a resistor) should never have both ends plugged into the same terminal strip. This will simply short-circuit across the device.

Alright, now that you understand the basics of the breadboard let’s talk about how to get power to your project. There are hundreds of different ways to get electricity connected to the breadboard, one of the more popular ways is to purchase a hobby power-supply, which is a device that generates a user defined AC/DC voltage and current. These suckers are nice, I want one, but they usually cost between $50 and $200 US depending on the features which can be a little spendy just for getting started. If you are looking to get voltage on the cheap, for basic starter circuits you can just plug a 9V battery right into the breadboard. using a battery connector
connector

This is only sufficient for very basic circuits. you can find a huge number of simple breadboardable power-solutions on-line that work really well depending on your needs (check this tutorial out!)

I personally use this little guy, available from sparkfun.com
It has pin headers that plug directly into the breadboard to provide constant and stable +5V/+3.3V DC for powering integrated circuits and micro-controllers. ($9.95 US)
power

Alright, that’s about everything about the breadboard. Now hit up google (or my links to the right) for some project ideas that you might be interested in! get the parts, slap it together, and have some fun!

Intel 8088 Microprocessor on a breadboard!
8088onbreadboard

Coming soon: part 3: a quick tutorial on making schematics with gschem!

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