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What are the cases where one should avoid using a breadboard? e.g. high frequency, noise prone circuits etc.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You may want to read this great old article by Bob Pease, What's All This "SMWISICDSI" Stuff, Anyhow?, that speaks to the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Windell Oskay Apr 7 '10 at 12:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ All of them. Breadboards are horrible. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf Dec 26 '10 at 8:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ There would be a ton of downvotes on the above comment if this were possible. Breadboards often save hours upon hours of time! Excellent question, btw. \$\endgroup\$ – Roman Starkov Oct 11 '11 at 19:09
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Areas where the common breadboard does poorly:

  • High voltage
  • High frequency (above 10MHz)
  • Where the additional breadboard capacitance would present problems (oscillators, etc)
  • Where glitches due to poor wire connections would result in poor operation
  • Where most of the parts are not through hole 0.1" (2.54mm) centers
  • For anything but on-the-bench prototyping (ie, don't take it out of the lab and expect it to work)
  • Sensitive analog electronics, such as sensor usage
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Particularly I'm almost not using more breadboard. It's rare. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Grillo Jul 9 '10 at 17:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Regarding high frequency specifically, what alternative methods of prototyping at the hobbyist level are commonly employed, e.g. 20MHz microcontroller circuit, etc? \$\endgroup\$ – rcampbell Sep 10 '18 at 7:49
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Perhaps a better way to phrase the question would be when IS it ok to use a breadboard. I'd say if the following cases are true it's probably ok to use a breadboard.

  1. Rapid prototyping (not built to last)
  2. Few connections external to the breadboard
  3. Mostly thru-hole components
  4. Low voltage <= 12VDC
  5. Low frequency <= 10Mhz

There are a few exceptions for example you can have more external connections if you use cables with multiple wires and good thru-hole style connectors like ribbon cables. Don't try running lots of jumper wires from the breadboard to other devices or you will spend lots of time checking for broken connections. Many SMD -> thru-hole adaptor boards are available online that will allow you to use SMD parts with a breadboard. This also helps with the frequency issues as the clock circuit can be built on the SMD board while only the low frequency analog/digital circuits are passed to the breadboard.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What exactly prevents you using a breadboard for mains voltage? Is it more dangerous than other kind of mains voltage work? Moreover, is it sufficiently dangerous that you would call it foolhardy in itself? (as opposed to working with mains voltage carelessly) \$\endgroup\$ – Roman Starkov Oct 11 '11 at 19:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Typical board boards use 22AWG wire and the contacts for the example breadboard I’m looking at are rated to 36V @ 2 Amps. Breadboards are certainly not suited for mains voltage. \$\endgroup\$ – mjh2007 Nov 8 '11 at 18:41
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  • When you want to use surface mount parts
  • When you want something that won't fall apart
  • When you've only got one breadboard...

I use breadboards to help with circuit design, then make a PCB at home when I'm confident.

For surface mount parts, I often make adapter boards which can go into a breadboard.

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I try to avoid them all the time. I have found when I use the breadboard I spend 90% of the time troubleshooting the breadboard. I like to use Vectorboard and hardwire the circuitry. It does not take too much longer. An advantage is that Vectorboard is inexpensive enough so that you can leave your circuits assembled. See my Breadboard hints for an example and a list of supplies.

I would avoid a breadboard for all of the examples you listed -- high frequency, low-level signals, high impedance nodes. I would add power applications.

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I never use them. I make a PCB at home if I need a prototype quickly.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ i don't think that a PCB is in any way "quick". I takes at least an hours to make it and that does not compare with the breadboard option. \$\endgroup\$ – Rick_2047 Mar 31 '10 at 13:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can make a PCB in under 30 minutes. \$\endgroup\$ – Leon Heller Mar 31 '10 at 20:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ please tell me how do you do that? that really fast by any standards \$\endgroup\$ – Rick_2047 Apr 1 '10 at 14:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd also like to hear more details. \$\endgroup\$ – samoz Jul 2 '10 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or use a solder proto-board. breadboards are really only good if you're really cheap, and want to reuse ALL your components. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf Dec 26 '10 at 5:32
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Anything more than maybe 100mA of current. You could probably push an entire amp through if you had to, but with just those little spring-grippers for contact, you could get some hot spots.

Mainly though, if your circuit can't take noise introduced by loose wires, a breadboard is not the right medium. When I see a blog with an entire 8-bit micro wired up on a breadboard, I have to marvel at the sheer tenacity involved.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So, then, what do you do when you have to prototype some interface to a microcontroller? Fabricate a PCB for a circuit that you have no idea is correct? \$\endgroup\$ – bjarkef Jul 24 '10 at 22:57
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I'd agree with many of the above, although breadboards are useable for low-power mains voltage applications with suitable external safety precautions (isolation, current-limiting/fusing).

One thing you really shouldn't try to use them for is any sort of switching regulator. SMD is asily handled with breakouts - SM discretes can be easily soldered to 0.1" pin headers.

The probability of dodgy connections means that larger designs are more prone to problems and should probably be avoided, but BBs are the ideal way to check out small bits of circuitry that you're not sure about.

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what Adam said, but also high current. The protoboards have high parasitic capacitance and inductance.

I use them to test pieces of circuits I know are OK, but not for larger systems.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Parasitic capacitance tends to be an issue with either high speed signals, or signals with a high fan out (in loads or wiring points) from a given driver. A system which is large overall, but with reasonable fanout from drivers is no more problematic than a small one from an electrical perspective. Though it can pay to be very careful with wire routing, even to the point of securing wire bundles where they cross between modules. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Feb 14 '14 at 23:19
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Absolutely. Just got burned trying out a large breadboard. Honestly, I threw it away last night! Still have a small one for the quickies though. Will never buy one from eBay again... craptacular.

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protected by W5VO Mar 28 '17 at 5:53

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