from breadboard to completion

by lv_cmj on Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:17 am

For the past month or so I have been working on my first DIY electronics project, a racquetball score display with wireless control. I could not have done it without Adafruit and the community so thank you!

The question I have is what steps does everyone take when moving a project from multiple breadboards to a project box/perfboard? I know this is a pretty vague inquiry but I am honestly having a hard time visualizing the steps to take. I have pictures of the working project and there is nothing really complex about what I am doing. The google machine has helped a little but I am genuinely interested in any random advice, words of wisdom, or gotchas that people have ran across.

Thanks again!
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Re: from breadboard to completion

by adafruit_support_bill on Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:17 am

One thing that make the transition easier is the Perma-Proto boards: https://www.adafruit.com/index.php?main ... permaproto
With these, the circuit layout can be the same as on the breadboard, so you are less likely to introduce errors in the process.
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Re: from breadboard to completion

by Chuckz on Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:37 am

If this was software, some schools would teach us to write flowcharts. What then do you do in the case of hardware? I would recommend you document your project before taking it apart. Take pictures if necessary. Write a schematic, doublecheck and verify. The other thing I guess you can do is see if you can simplify your design. If this was taken a step further, wouldn't there be a two or more layer PCB made? You might have smaller connections and wires running in different directions.
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Re: from breadboard to completion

by Zener on Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:35 pm

I remember there used to be some boards like the Perma Proto boards that you could put on top of the breadboard, and push th eparts through it into the breadboard. Then you could carefully pull it all off, flip it over and solder it. The trick was they made the board .032" instead of .064". I don't know if it would work with the standard thickness boards. But the above idea is very sound. There are some proto PCB manufacturers that can make a board or 2 for very cheap. That is th ebest way to go. You can design it with Eagle, or a number of other programs.
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Re: from breadboard to completion

by adafruit_support_mike on Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:52 pm

Whenever you design a system, it helps to break it down into smaller, more or less independent chunks. That way you can focus on one chunk at a time, then focus on connecting the chunks to each other.

Almost every system starts from the same basic block diagram:

Image

where the boxes represent circuits and the arrows represent wires between the circuits (if you want to get fancy, you can call the arrows 'signal protocols' and list the rules for what signals will travel through the wires).

The diagram is recursive, meaning you can replace any box with another copy of the same diagram. An LCD backpack is a moderately complicated circuit, but as far as your Arduino is concerned, it's just 'output'. The basic rules are "anything outside a box can safely ignore anything that happens inside the box" and "anything that goes into or out of a box has to travel along an arrow."

There's no single way to break a system into boxes, and you only need enough boxes to help you think about the system without getting confused.

The nice part is that the diagram gives you some basic hardware design for free. Each box can be its own PCB, and each arrow can be its own set of cables. If you want to combine multiple boxes on the same PCB, you can still treat the circuits as separate units.

Once you have a system diagram that works for you, start listing conditions each box has to satisfy beyond the basic 'makes the system work' stuff.. "this input has to go by the front door", "this input has to go by the back door", "this part needs to stay plugged into the wall", "that part needs to be portable", etc. Once you have the system requirements and physical requirements, you'll have a much better idea of how to build each box.. which ones can live on the same PCB, which ones can live in the same enclosure, etc.

When it comes to building the actual circuits, there's a whole laundry list of methods: freeform, point-to-point, cordwood, dead-bug, Manhattan, wire-wrap, protoboard, pad-per-hole board, stripboard/Veroboard, Perma-Proto, or full-scale PCB. They all have their pros and cons, and interestingly enough 'full-scale PCB' isn't always the best choice.
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Re: from breadboard to completion

by lv_cmj on Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:40 pm

Thank you all for the information you've provided, good stuff. I am going to give the Perma-Proto boards a shot at some point and also take some of the advice given about documentation. I find it funny that the advice given by mstone is similar to how I do things at work. There I call it big blocking an idea. No idea why I thought that doing things at home would require a different approach.

I'll post some pictures when things are done.

Cheers!
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