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Breadboarding birds nest

Breadboarding birds nest

Breadboarding birds nest

(OP)
My Arduino projects invariably end up as a horrible mess reminiscent of the Bride of Frankenstein's hair. What I need is some sort of plastic building block kit that I can screw all the PCBs, power supplies and other components to. It would need standoffs and spacers and bulkheads as well. Ideally the thing would also come with a plastic box so that I can seal the whole lot against battery acid fumes and ants, spiders and wasps.

Is there such a thing? What is it called?

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

My friend Bob Talbert used to build true birds nest breadboards, using urethane insulated wire. ... which can be connected to by simply presenting a tinned and still hot component lead anywhere along its length. The urethane just melts away, leaving relatively clean solid wire. You had to be very careful picking them up.

On the mechanical side, my friend Larry Williams was an artiste in aluminum sheet. Wave your hands in the air to tell him where you wanted a valve or switch mounted, come back in ten minutes, and your stuff would be positioned in space where you wanted it, supported by the ugliest piece(s) of metal you have ever seen, no drawings required.

If you had time to wait a bit, our lab stocked assortments of standoffs of all sexes, and little angle brackets, mostly designs left over from vacuum tube radio days. You still needed a drill and a few bits and maybe a few Bud Boxes if your project had a budget for it.

Every few years, somebody comes out with a modular packaging scheme, like folded Bud Boxes, or more recently extruded aluminum boxes, or still more recently, plastic boxes, the latter two with either built in standoffs or paired ribs made to accept slide-in PC boards. Electronic distributors stock them for a while, until their initial inventory gets depleted, which I think takes much longer than any merchant would want, then somebody comes out with a newer, more revolutionary system, and the cycle continues.

More recently, there's been noticeable activity in using 3D printers to build custom enclosures for prototypes, many of which are very clever. ... so much so that there may not be another generation of semi-custom enclosures. The 3D printed stuff can get pretty close to a usable enclosure/structure with no drilling or other postprocessing required, beyond a little Bondo and paint to make the exterior surfaces look nice.

I thought Arduinos were originally designed to not need much custom hardware, with 'all you could possibly want' provided by stacking 'shields' or some such. ... but they sort of wandered away from that concedpt by offering different models with different envelopes, and every 'sorta Arduino' having its own unique geometry, etc.

A search on Arduino accessories produced quite a lot of offers, including some that should be available on your side of the globe.

Search also on 'box for Arduino'.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

This comes to mind as the typical breadboard option. Obviously its really a prototyping thing, and a more permanent means of connection for circuits would be desired for anything to be used in production.

It would really depend on what you're doing with all the IO and field wiring for your specific application as to what else might be suitable for production. DIN rail terminals are good, but expensive for hobbyist one offs. Other more permanent options include using PCB standoffs and screws from Jaycar, and just mount them in those ABS plastic boxes that Dick Smith Electronics made so popular.

EDMS Australia

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

(OP)
Freddy - no, that's what I've got. The problem is that for a real project one shield isn't enough, so I have daughter boards, and in my case I've got a rather large DC-DC converter, a relay to switch that on and off, the p/s for the Arduino, its LCD the arduino itself, and 48V out and 12V in. v2 will have a wireless transmitter and another current monitoring as well, so low current breadboards don't cut it.

Mike, oh well at least I was right to be puzzled by the absence of them in the shops. I think you've just suggested the best route, 3d printing.



Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

I've used the push-in solderless breadboards that Freddy suggested. I rather prefer using 26 gage wire wrap wire rather than the 22 gage solid wire that's normally suggested. 26 is just stiff enough to still push in, without permanantly distorting the gripping springs, and not so thin that you cut it every time you strip it without a specialized tool.

They are great, from DC all the way up to ... audio frequencies.

But almost nothing runs that slow anymore, including microcontrollers and Arduinos.

The problem is the parallel sub-buses that do the interconnect, which talk to each other at what are now modestly high frequencies.

Next step up requires soldering; push-in anchors (I think they're called 'flea clips' in perfboard, with solid wire interconnects, but the best perfboard for the clips won't accept DIP packages, so you glue them on with the legs sticking up. Or fine pitch perfboard with DIP packages soldered in, and wire wrap wire, one turn and solder. That's sort of state of the art from 20 years ago, like you find in old Circuit Cellar articles.

(
Years before that, when solder turrets on phenolic boards were state of the art, my then employer got one of the first Gerber photo-plotters and started making a 'semicustom mask' with an array of transistor patterns, to generate proto circuits to be soldered together as needed. I remember a scream coming from the photoplotter room, when somebody going through the enormously boring task of positioning little master masks one at a time on photosensitive material and flashing through them one by one, sort of drifted off toward the end of one very large board and screwed up 24 hours' work by placing the mask wrong or placing the wrong mask. That's why Gerber files look like they do; they tell the production machine which mask to use, where to put it, and how to orient it. The files were generated manually in those days, because nobody had computers to do it.
)

Now all the circuit pioneers just design custom circuit boards and have them shipped in a day or two, or use sub-boards like Arduinos. ... and they hand-solder surface mount packages. You can identify them by the burns on their fingertips.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

We 3D print some of our enclosures and project boxes when we need to be "fancy". It's worked well. Have even put some faux logos and other such nonsense to put our creative fingerprint on them.

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

Check out hammond boxes: http://www.hammondmfg.com/EE_Index.htm
They have a distributor in Queenstown.

Don't bother cleaning up the bird's nest. Just HIDE it.

STF

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

Unless I'm truly prototyping a small circuit portion, I don't care what happens to the circuit after my tests. Therefore, I go ahead and start laying out the PCB with plenty of debugging room. It is truly faster/cheaper in the long run to get a few 3-day turn boards than constantly fight with a changing bird's nest.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

(OP)
Yes, I think I've over specified the solution. These boxes with slots in would do, if I mount each subassembly to its own 'fake' PCB and use wires between boards that are long enough to allow each to be slid in and out independently. I'm sure I read somewhere that most electrical problems are mechanical!



Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

(OP)
Here it is, my carpentry skills are almost as good as my soldering which are nearly as good as my photography. Damn I'm hot. Oh that's my beer belly being used as a mousemat, the grues have eaten all the cameras so I used a laptop instead.



Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

(OP)
Notes for the OCD people. Yes, the multimeter is the world famous FUKE brand. Twenty dorrar. A keen eye will observe that if I screw the plywood to the wall I can either have vertical heatsink fins, or a horizontal display, but not both at once. Also, I have carefully hidden the pot shaft beneath the power supply jack, to make it more difficult to use. That's why we build prototypes.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

It's glorious.

What's it do?

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

It goes "ping".

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

I see some unused space on the breadboard. Enough for a real-time clock so that it can "ping" on time.

STF

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

(OP)
My off grid house has a 48V solar system. It also has 6 very large 2V accumulators left over from a 12V system. I also have a 180W 12V solar panel used for camping. So, the 12V panel charges the 12V battery. When the voltage of the 12V system is high (say 13V), and the 48V system is low (say 51V), the relay closes and energises the 12V to 48V buck boost converter, for 10 minutes. Then the relay opens and it checks the voltages again, ad infinitum. I have had it running in the past but a tree fell on the shed and wiped out the existing 12V system. This version is better because it has a display. The next step is to put a current measuring chip in.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

Not really seeing the birds nest, looks about like a lot of other prototype stuff.

One trick I've seen used is to buy ribbon cable (esp. the multi-colored stuff), cut lengths of it and split pairs/singles off the harness to route to other components. Even if it's a rat snarl of wiring, the look of it coming back to a single bundle in some spot or another makes it look much better (dare we say professional?).

I like the 2x4 and plywood panel layout though. Waterproof that with a few wraps of Saran and good to go, no?

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

I like the ribbon cable idea; in fact, I've used it myself.
... but thanks to a long period of inactivity on the home front (working out of state and then not working but summering in another state), most of my stock is probably too old to be solderable.
... and I'm under intense pressure to 'get rid of all that junk'.
... Where the word 'junk' is defined as anything she doesn't recognize or know the function of, and especially anything that looks like it might be part of a computer.

But your breadboard deserves a slightly better housing, e.g. in addition to the plywood backing, screwed to the wall, a coupla short vertical 1x2s on the vertical edges to hold a piece of smoked plastic to act as a front panel/ display holder. I might leave the top and bottom open for ventilation, with maybe a horizontal shelf spaced above the top opening to keep things from dropping on the electronics.
(
We have lizards ((green and/or brown anoles, I think) who like to do push-ups on the ceiling, and they're not housebroken. Nor are their primary prey, cockroaches, big ones, which is why we don't molest the lizards.
)

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Breadboarding birds nest

It took me and my family a while to get used to the spiders that live on the ceiling of our house.
I can't imagine getting used to lizards!
I live 500 miles north of cockroach habitat, and would gladly move 500 miles further north if global warming expands their territory.

STF

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