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.
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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
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
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 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 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
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