Friday, December 9, 2011

Strategy for My Homebrew Projects

I have used protoboards (white plug boards) for as long as I remember, in fact most of my Homebrew projects start-out on a protoboard, and from there usually end up on a custom Homebrew PCB.

In the past, I only had a few expensive (typical $30) protoboards to share with new and old projects, and therefore dismantling older circuits was always necessary. My typical protoboards were the fancy ones with a metal backing plate and banana plug terminals, and of course all of which is un-necessary. Actually, only the raw protoboard is necessary, see a previous project.

My previous final Homebrew projects rarely resemble the original; rats nest of wire on the protoboard, nor the required 1/10 inch spacing for headers. Therefore, once prototyping was complete all further circuit development or testing was done directly on the target Homebrew PCB.

That is going to change:

All  of my new Homebrew PCB projects will be laid out with the protoboard in mind as the potential target usage. All headers will be laid out on 1/10 inch non-overlapping grid (i.e., along each side) as required for use with the protoboard. In the final project, the headers holes can be filled with Male pins on the top or bottom side, or with Male-Female stacking adapters as seen in some Arduino Shield products. This strategy will allow interesting combination of assorted projects on a single protoboard or as stacked sets (again, similar to that of the Arduino Shields).

I foresee a future Homebrew Transmitter, Receiver and maybe a Beacon Controller all stacked together to make a fun combined project.

Note: I will still continue my overall strategy of creating the smallest Homebrew projects that I can for as long as I can, but the projects may now be a little bigger to allow for the new header placement strategy. I still enjoy building very-very small and dense projects, the smaller the better!

In support of this Strategy:

Recently I discovered a relatively inexpensive (~$8) source for full size (clear) protoboards from Adafruit (their nomenclature is: breadboards), see:

They also have half size (white) boards, for $5:

UPDATE: I found the half size (clear) protoboards at SparkFun for $5.95:

Bulk Male-Female (stacking) headers or more difficult to obtain, I have only found them available from the Chinese manufacture in lots of a million. But they are available in a package of; 2 each 8 pin and 2 each 6 pin headers for $1.50, also from Adafruit and SparkFun. They can be carefully cut apart, or joined to create other size headers as necessary.

Male pins are also available as:

I found jumper wires with Female ends attached, I cut them in the middle, using each end for battery and other device connections:

Coin cell holders are useful on small projects:

I have looked for other similar sources for all of the above, these are easy, and the links are provided here for my future reference.

Note: I am not a agent or associated with Adafruit nor SparkFun, I just need/use their products.

UPDATE: My Friend Larry - KB7KMO thinks he has a link (somewhere) to bulk Male-Female (stacking) headers, I am waiting his search.


1 comment:

  1. Try Sparkfun in the US or local agents for headers, both male and female, standard and long pins.
    Ian VK3XID