I have an idea for a programmable breadboard, but I am not sure of the feasability of it. My thought is to connect each strip of a breadboard to some type of circuit that can make arbitrary connections in software. This would eliminate a lot of the tedious wiring associated with quick prototyping.
I have a few ideas, all of which seem prohibitively cost or wiring heavy.
For a breadboard with N strips I could:
- Use an array of analog switches for each possible combination of wires. This is not quite N^2, but its not far off. A lot of switches may get expensive fast.
- Make M connections possible with 2M N:1 analog muxes. Not sure how feasable this is.
- Set up a bunch of rows of parallel headers and use little jumpers to form connections. Probably cheaper than 1 or 2, but not programmable.
I started thinking if maybe there was a way to use an CPLD or FPGA to do something like this. At the very least if I had one with enough IO I could do some input->output following design that could get pretty close for slow digital circuits, but wouldn't handle analog very well.
What I really want is a chip that can take a large number of IO and let me program in arbitrary connections between them. Does something like this exist? Preferably easy to program, even from a pic or something.
The board I am looking at now has 3 rows on each side and two power rails so that's 64 distinct connection points, or 2016 analog switches.