Electronics circuits prototyping

Electronics prototyping is an important part of electronics device development. Prototyping means to build and test an early version of) an electronic circuit. Prototyping your product is all about learning. Each time you create a prototype version you will, or should, learn something new. Start with the most simple, low cost way to prototype your product. This posting gives you overview to different ways to build and prototype electronics circuits.

This video reviews several of the electronic circuit prototyping techniques. It is a good overview if many different techniques.

Electronics on the Floor: Five reasons not to use printed circuit boards for projects

How you begin prototyping your product’s electronics depends on what questions you are trying to answer.

If you have broad questions about whether your product will even work, or whether it will solve the intended problem, then you may be wise to begin with an early works-like prototype based on a development kit such as an Arduino or Raspberry Pi. Then wire some external functionality like sensors to it with jumper wires and/or add-on boards as needed.

If there are no big questions about your product’s functionality then for professional electronics design you should probably move right to designing a custom PCB. Most large companies developing products begin with a custom PCB. This is the fastest route to market, although not likely the cheapest. If you are an electronics hobbyist or need to build one-off device for a specific use quickly, then some other methods might be more suitable.

Alligator clip test cables

Wires with alligator clips are useful in electronics lab for making temporary connections. Those alligator wires can be used to make simple temporary circuits when you need to connect just few components together.

Alligator Clips Electrical DIY Test Leads

Alligator Clips – Electrical Tutorial – HWFCI

How sucks the cheap alligator clip compared with the 10 times price one

Hook Test Leads vs Alligator Clip

Jumper wires

Dupont type jumper wires are extremely handy components to have on hand, especially when prototyping with a development kit such as an Arduino or Raspberry Pi. Jumper wires are simply wires that have connector pins at each end, allowing them to be used to connect two points to each other without soldering. You can use them to connect easily development kit boards together, to breadboard or to sensors.

#12 Five Tricks for working with Dupont wires

Arduino Prototyping Basics #17: Jumper Wires

Arduino prototyping basics Using jumper wires 3/8

Breadboard

Many electronics projects use something called a breadboard. A breadboard is a rectangular plastic board with a bunch of tiny holes in it. These holes let you easily insert electronic components to prototype. It is easy to push in wired component and it is easy to remove a component if you make a mistake, or just start over and do a new project. The term breadboard comes from the early days of electronics, when people would literally drive nails or screws into wooden boards on which they cut bread in order to connect their circuits. Luckily today there are better options. Modern breadboards are made from plastic, and come in all shapes, sizes, and even different colors. Read How to Use a Breadboard for more information.

How to Use a Breadboard

Cutting Perfect Jumper Wires (for breadboard)

Point to point wiring

Point-to-point or hand wiring is traced back to the time when electrical assemblies employed wire nuts or screws to hold wires to an insulated ceramic or wooden board. The modern version of point-to-point construction uses tag boards or terminal strips. It involves soldering components to the electrical assembly.

Point-to-point circuit board wiring is ideal when building a prototype or a customized, one-of-a-kind board. Point-to-point circuit board, which in essence is a hand-wired board. It has low capacitance between conductors since the connections are separated by air. Point to point wiring can be seen typically on tube amplifiers and simple DIY circuits.

Dead bug prototyping

Dead bug prototyping is a way of building working electronic circuits, by soldering the parts directly together, or through wires instead of the traditional way of using a printed circuit board (PCB.) This type of circuit is often a quick way to get going on a project, and is a good way to test stuff, before investing in printed circuit boards. You are often making interesting looking 3D circuits, rather than 2D circuits.

Dead bug prototyping got its name because when you invert a IC, and bend the legs out, it looks like a dead bug. Sometimes you can make your whole circuit work just by soldering the parts directly to an IC, and the easy way to do it is to lay the chip upside down, bend the leads out and solder parts together. Sometimes people use many chips, and glue them upside down to a blank PCB, then build the circuitry from part to part.

Freeform circuits

Freeform electronics are a way of building working electronic circuits, by soldering the parts directly together, or through wires instead of the traditional way of using a printed circuit board (PCB.) You are often making interesting looking 3D circuits, rather than 2D circuits.

What is a freeform circuit sculpture? It is the art of creating a sculpture from electrical components using brass rods or wire to build the circuit into form. This is an aesthetically pleasing and highly compelling practice that typically doesn’t include circuit boards or enclosures, although they are sometimes still used. Web pages Dead Bug Prototyping and Freeform Electronics and Twelve Circuit Sculptures We Can’t Stop Looking At have nice looking artistic examples of this kind of circuits.

Freeform Circuitry // #TBT

Veroboard

Veroboard is a brand of stripboard, a pre-formed circuit board material of copper strips on an insulating bonded paper board which was originated and developed in the early 1960s. It was introduced as a general-purpose material for use in constructing electronic circuits and is very useful for constructing small to medium size prototype circuits. The generic terms ‘veroboard’ and ‘stripboard’ are now taken to be synonymous. In using Veroboard, components are suitably positioned and soldered to the conductors to form the required circuit. Breaks can be made in the tracks and jumper wires are added as needed. The versatility of the veroboard/stripboard type of product is demonstrated by the large number of design examples that can be found on the Internet.[

Circuit Board Prototyping: Breadboards, Padboards, Stripboards and More

Manhattan style circuit construction

“Manhattan Style” is a technique for constructing electronic circuits by gluing pads or traces to make “islands” of separate conductivity on top of a base material. The “Manhattan style” is a very old method of circuit construction. It’s especially popular among radio amateurs for high frequency circuits because it has a solid ground plane that helps to reduce interference and noise. To build Manhattan style you need a copper clad board (one-sided is OK). The first step is to make small cutouts in the copper for the component pads and cut the board to a good size. Some builders do not make cutouts, but glue small pieces of circuit boards on the copper to get “isolated islands”. Cut out small pieces of copperboard (from another piece of board) and glue them onto the main copperboard to serve as component mounting platforms.

Extreme prototype board wiring techniques

Printed circuit boards

Printed circuit boards are the norm in most modern electronic products. A printed circuit board electrically connects, through mechanical support, electronic components through the use of conductive tracks or pads etched from sheets of copper that are laminated into a non-conductive substrate. Electrical components, such as capacitors and resistors, are then soldered onto the printed circuit board. Typically printed circuit boards are designed with PCB design software and manufactured by circuit board manufacturing companies. But it is also possible to make your own circuit boards.

Making of PCBs at home, DIY using inexpenive materials

DIY PCB Toner Transfer (No Heat) & Etching

47 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Veroboard example
    How To Make Inverter !! 200 Watt !!
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7vixt1Vy8oY

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    9 Technologies to Prototype Your New Electronic Hardware Product
    https://www.seeedstudio.com/blog/2017/11/08/9-technologies-to-prototype-your-new-electronic-hardware-product/

    There are a lot of technologies at your disposal to create a prototype for your new hardware product. These technologies can be split into two broad categories. The first category consists of methods to prototype the electronics portion of your product. The second category includes the various technologies to prototype the product enclosure. Begin with the simplest, cheapest way to prototype your product. Learn as much as possible from it, then strive towards a production quality prototype with every iteration. In this article you’ll discover nine of the most common prototyping methods available and what you can learn from them.

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Freeformable Circuit | Real Freeform Circuit! © CC BY-NC-SA
    A freeformable IR remote-controlled LED circuit. An all-in-one applicable DIY light chaser with Arduino-controlled patterns.
    https://create.arduino.cc/projecthub/Devanagaraj/freeformable-circuit-real-freeform-circuit-590f69

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Universal PCB
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=LHi-jsuVtwA

    This is PCB that can be used for many electronic projects. With this board you can make cool project very fast. And project looks much better than perfboard projects. It is also great for SMD components because the lines are not isolated so you can solder directly to them.

    https://www.pcbway.com/project/shareproject/Universal_PCB_2.html

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Automatic street light on off dricetly with 220ac
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhTMFB_3NXE

    how to make automatic street light On off dricetly with 220v ac no relay or battery simple and easy electronics project use LDR and Triac BT136

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    5 Ways Rapid Prototyping Gets Businesses Back on Track
    https://www.materialise.com/en/blog/rapid-prototyping-gets-business-back-on-track

    Due to the coronavirus, changes to the way we worked were sudden. But thanks to the capabilities of rapid prototyping and 3D printing more broadly, your product development timeframe doesn’t need to suffer. Here’s how.

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    this guy proves that you should never underestimate the endless possibilities the humble breadboard can offer. well worth a look.

    The world’s worst video card?
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=l7rce6IQDWs&feature=youtu.be

    Let’s build a circuit that displays an image on a VGA monitor! In this video, I talk about how VGA signals work and build a circuit that provides the correct timing of sync signals so that a monitor recognizes the signal.

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Simple Clap switch using MIC
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3jWaf4dujNw

    how to make a clap switch using the BC547 transistor. you can turn an LED on and off using this circuit.

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    5 Boards that Make Rapid Prototyping Easy
    It’s helpful and efficient to leverage existing development boards, break-out boards, and software to speed up the design process.
    https://www.designnews.com/electronics-test/5-boards-make-rapid-prototyping-easy/165360127262919?ADTRK=InformaMarkets&elq_mid=13218&elq_cid=876648

    There are many instances in a product development cycle where a developer will want to create a rapid prototype. A developer may want to create an entire system, learn how to interface with a sensor or work through an implementation for a new algorithm. I’ve often found that when trying to understand or prove something, it’s helpful and efficient to leverage existing development boards, break-out boards and software to speed up the process. After all, if the concept isn’t going to work, I want to fail fast so that I can find a better solution. In today’s post, I’m going to share five of my favorite development boards that I use for rapid prototyping.

    Board #1 – BreadShield
    Board #2 – Arduino Protoscrew Shield
    Board #3 – The MicroPython Pyboard D-Series
    Board #4 – CAN Waveshare Transceiver Board
    Board #5 – SparkFun Edge Development Board – Apollo3 Blue

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Universal PCB Prototypes Circuits with Ease and Beauty
    A better looking and more functional alternative to a traditional perfboard.
    https://www.hackster.io/news/universal-pcb-prototypes-circuits-with-ease-and-beauty-ab76187b4000

    The starting point for many circuits is the humble breadboard. The design has not changed much over the decades, with columns and rows to form interconnects. A more permanent solution is a “protoboard” or “perf board.” While a few have done some innovative changes, they have mostly just remained a solderable version of a breadboard. The Universal PCB from Volos Projects is a huge step forward in prototyping circuits. Its distinctive design is flexible enough to build many circuits cleanly and more easily than traditional prototyping boards.

    The 60 x 80 mm Universal PCB has two sections. At the time is an area for DIP ICs. Each of the footprint’s 16 pins breaks out to individual solder-trace pads. The unique pad design allows them to support both through-hole and surface mount components. Also, those pads have alternating VCC and GND connections surrounding them. This layout makes power connections straightforward and clean, while also making it very easy to add SMD components, like decoupling capacitors.

    https://www.tindie.com/products/volos/universal-pcb-for-prototyping-5-x-boards/

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Unexpected Maker Seon Rozenblum Assembles “Pre-Final” FeatherS2 ESP32-S2 Development Boards
    https://www.hackster.io/news/unexpected-maker-seon-rozenblum-assembles-pre-final-feathers2-esp32-s2-development-boards-3801160942ed

    Matching the specifications of the earlier ProS2, the FeatherS2 is powered by Espressif’s latest ESP32-S2 system-on-chip.

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Home made PCB by the method of screen printing
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-WGaAmpfOU

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    With no laser printer available, Angelo Casimiro has detailed a means of using baby oil and a common inkjet printer to get perfect PCB transfers.

    Angelo Casimiro Demonstrates How Baby Oil Can Offer an Easy Route to High-Quality PCB Production
    https://www.hackster.io/news/angelo-casimiro-demonstrates-how-baby-oil-can-offer-an-easy-route-to-high-quality-pcb-production-51fb6f0436ba

    With no laser printer available, Casimiro has detailed a means of using baby oil and a common inkjet printer to get perfect PCB transfers.

    Student Angelo Casimiro has shared a method for easily producing single-sided printed circuit boards (PCBs) from inkjet-printed transfers, without the need for any special paper — and the secret is baby oil.

    “Toner transfer method has been the number one go-to in homebrew PCB fabrication, next to the Sharpie method,”

    “Pre-sensitised PCBs on the other hand creates the sharpest lines of all the homebrew fabrication methods. This is perfect for smaller circuits that involves SMT (Surface Mount) components. I use this method for building PCBs with line traces reaching down to 10mils (0.254mm).”

    “Adding baby oil to your plain paper PCB layout would allow more light to pass through during the photo exposure process. It turns and plain paper into parchment paper.”

    https://www.instructables.com/id/Single-Sided-PCB-Home-Fabrication/

    Reply
  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    From Idea to Schematic to PCB – How to do it easily!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35YuILUlfGs

    In this tutorial I will show you what steps are necessary to turn your idea for an electronics circuit into a schematic and then into a PCB. Along the way I will show you that it is actually quite simple nowadays to order PCBs from a professional manufacturing house.

    How to Solder properly || Through-hole (THT) & Surface-mount (SMD)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxMV6wGS3NY

    In this video I will show you my technique when it comes to THT and SMD soldering tasks.I show you with some practical examples how easy it is to solder and what kind of tools and materials are necessary to do the job.

    Reply
  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How To Make PCBs At Home (Single Sided Presensitized)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wAer7a3tU4

    Learn to fabricate Single Sided PCBs at home! Prototype PCB fabrication is one of the essential skills you must learn in electronics. Instead of using breadboards and perfboards, custom PCBs would make any project smaller and more compact!

    PRESENSITIZED PCBs:
    Also known as photopositive PCBs or photoresist PCBs, are regular PCB copper clads, layered with a light sensitive paint or film. Once exposed to light, the paint would dissolve in the developing solution, while the unexposed areas would remain undissolved in the solution. This forms a Mask on the clad. When the developed PCB is exposed to an etchant, the masked areas would remain in tact while the unmasked areas would dissolve on your etchant, thus forming a copy of your printed PCB artwork.

    BETTER THAN TONER TRANSFER METHOD:
    Toner transfer method has been the number 1 go to in homebrew PCB fabcrication, next to the sharpie method. Toner transfer has its own limitations. One, is that you would need a toner printer, common inkjet printers simply wouldn’t work. Second, as your line traces gets thinner, it would be more difficult to transfer the toner prints to the copper clad. Presensitized PCBs on the other hand creates the sharpest lines of all the homebrew fabrication methods. This is perfect for smaller circuits that involves SMT (Surface Mount) components. I use this method for building PCBs with line traces reaching down to 10mils (0.254mm). You can go as thin as 5mils (0.1275mm), but you would have to use inkjet friendly acetate.

    DIY PCB Toner Transfer (No Heat) & Etching
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVhSCEPINpM

    DIY PCB Toner Transfer (No Heat) & Etching

    No need to use an Iron, transfer easily and fast!

    No need to soak in water to remove paper, just peel and etch.

    Reply
  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Direct PCB Printing with a Modified Laser Printer
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FWUul62irY

    Reply
  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New laser machine for PCBs, Aluminium and more
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hFNj86L7sk

    Reply
  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Silver Tape, a new technique for rapid circuit fabrication, makes inkjet printed circuitry more accessible and usable than ever!

    Print Instant Circuits From an Inkjet with Silver Tape
    https://www.hackster.io/news/print-instant-circuits-from-an-inkjet-with-silver-tape-743962a056ef

    Silver Tape, a new technique for rapid circuit fabrication, makes inkjet printed circuitry more accessible and usable than ever!

    Reply
  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DIY Tools for Home PCB Etching
    https://www.hackster.io/news/diy-tools-for-home-pcb-etching-1816bfb530cb

    TechBuilder presents an exposure tool and agitator to help with your PCB manufacturing process.

    Reply
  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    See-Through Arduino UNO
    https://www.instructables.com/id/See-Through-Arduino-UNO/

    What is Freeduino? It’s a famous Arduino UNO board made without any circuit board. It uses a technique called free-form to interconnect components by wires instead of a circuit board. And it looks beautiful!

    Reply
  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Soon… Inkjet Your Circuit Boards
    https://hackaday.com/2020/06/10/soon-inkjet-your-circuit-boards/

    Printed circuit board fabrication — especially in basements and garages — have been transformed by the computer revolution. Before that, people would use a permanent marker or little decals to layout circuit boards prior to etching. Sometimes, they’d do it on film and use a photo process, but they did make decals that you applied directly to the board to resist the etch. Now a team from Georgia Tech, University of Tokyo, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Nebraska has brought things full circle. Their process inkjet prints silver traces on a substrate that they can then transfer to a circuit board — no etching required.

    They start with a standard Epson inkjet with cartridges that have silver-bearing ink. T

    https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/3381013

    Reply
  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Now This Is A Maker’s PCB Shaker
    https://hackaday.com/2020/06/12/now-this-is-a-makers-pcb-shaker/

    Anyone who has ever etched their own PCB knows that the waiting is the hardest part. Dissolving copper in ferric chloride takes time, much like developing a Polaroid picture. And although you really should not shake a fresh Polaroid to speed up development, the PCB etching process thrives on agitation. Why wait an hour when you can build a simple PCB shaker and move on to drilling and/or filling in 10 minutes?

    https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-PCB-Shaker/

    Tired of spending half an hour shaking a vat of Ferric Chloride? Build your own DIY Low-Cost PCB Shaker! It’s a very cheap and simple project that only requires common materials. The machine can reduce etching time of Ferric Chloride down to 10 minutes, depending on the speed and the etchant’s concentration.

    Reply
  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Vitor Barbosa converted a Lexmark E460dn printer into a machine capable of printing directly onto a blank PCB.

    haxmark460 – Home PCB Printer
    https://hackaday.io/project/171775-haxmark460-home-pcb-printer

    Direct PCB printing with a modified Lexmark e460dn laserjet printer

    PCBs are dirt-cheap nowadays and arrive fast, right? Actually that’s not the whole story here in Brazil, where I live. Truth is boards for hobbyists here are still relatively expensive or they will take a long time to be made.
    If you want a single or double-layered prototype done quickly, haxmark460′s got you covered. Resolution is much better than UV dry film methods, and if you have a laminator, it can print the soldermask too.

    Reply
  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Angelo Casimiro Demonstrates How Baby Oil Can Offer an Easy Route to High-Quality PCB Production
    https://www.hackster.io/news/angelo-casimiro-demonstrates-how-baby-oil-can-offer-an-easy-route-to-high-quality-pcb-production-51fb6f0436ba

    With no laser printer available, Casimiro has detailed a means of using baby oil and a common inkjet printer to get perfect PCB transfers

    Reply
  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Modular, Open Source Electrical Engineering Lab for Your Workbench
    https://www.hackster.io/news/a-modular-open-source-electrical-engineering-lab-for-your-workbench-f8c2749806be

    EleLab_v2′s customizable modules include fixed and variable power supplies, measurement tools, component testers, and more.

    Reply
  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The haxmark460 converts a Lexmark E460dn printer into a PCB manufacturing machine.

    Modified printer simplifies home PCB fabrication
    https://blog.arduino.cc/2020/07/02/modified-printer-simplifies-home-pcb-fabrication/

    Reply
  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    PCB making, PCB prototyping quickly and easy – STEP by STEP
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zRdJrE80Vjk

    Reply
  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Responding to a challenge on the EEVblog forum, Joe Smith has built a breadboarded 25GHz oscillator — a world record.

    This 25GHz Oscillator May Be the Fastest Thing to Ever Land on a Breadboard
    https://www.hackster.io/news/this-25ghz-oscillator-may-be-the-fastest-thing-to-ever-land-on-a-breadboard-04147b2e2fc4

    Responding to a challenge on the EEVblog forum, Joe Smith has built a breadboarded 25GHz oscillator — a world record.

    Joe Smith has published a video of what may well be the fastest breadboard-based oscillator component in history, achieving 25GHz in response to a challenge posted on the EEVblog forum.

    “The aim is to achieve the highest frequency on the EEVblog forum

    “1. No ICs (duh!) 2. No crystals / MEMS etc. 3. No soldering except to add wires to SMT parts. All electrical connections between individual parts must be made by the breadboard contacts.”

    Reply
  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Milling is a known way to make prototype boards.
    I have seen boards made this way
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printed_circuit_board_milling

    Reply
  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    PCB? What PCB? – Building a tiny but functional NE555 timer circuit. (electronics tutorial)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ymcoy4K87e8&feature=youtu.be

    Reply
  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Wilko Lunenburg’s Simple Bat Detector Uses a Minimum of Parts and Requires No Programming
    https://www.hackster.io/news/wilko-lunenburg-s-simple-bat-detector-uses-a-minimum-of-parts-and-requires-no-programming-b11ac42de1bc

    With only a handful of components on perfboard, this bat detector is a great project for anyone who doesn’t fancy programming.

    Reply
  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Arduino Password Lock Project © GPL3+
    Developing projects like commercial products
    https://create.arduino.cc/projecthub/altium_designer_projects/arduino-password-lock-project-ced813

    Reply
  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    OSpcb Is A PROFESSIONAL PCB Manufacturer In China
    https://www.cnospcb.com/

    Reply
  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Build Two-Sided PCBs at Home with This Method
    Robin Debreuil’s approach to homemade PCBs involves a milling machine and patience.
    https://www.hackster.io/news/build-two-sided-pcbs-at-home-with-this-method-d45fe741a630

    Reply
  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tidy Up Your Workbench with This Prototyping Stand
    Sebastian Glahn created a clean 3D-printed breadboard setup for portable prototyping.
    https://www.hackster.io/news/tidy-up-your-workbench-with-this-prototyping-stand-b613d3e72559

    Reply

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