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I wanted to know about solderless breadboard sizes; a standard solderless breadboard has five holes in a row.

Standard solderless breadboard

There are a lot of options to get a bigger workspace, like assembling two solderless breadboards, or buying a metal plate with multiple breadboards, but those have the same issue: The need of carrying a metal support or a connector to stick the breadboards together. If one would need a robust and elementary solderless breadboard to carry around, something wider to prototype, assembling two breadboards can be tricky. Such case may happen if the five holes are already used or if large components have to be installed (microcontrollers, relays, etc.)

I couldn't find anything but six pins standard online or suggestions to 3D print or cut breadboards.

Why are there not a lot of other formats, how are sellers not even making profit on that? Where can I get other sizes for my solderless breadboard? Can I? Do I have to stick with assembling or 3D printing?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What is this "standard breadboard with 5 holes in a row" that you're referencing? Note also that a breadboard is really not a thing, but rather a technique for building something. There are many ways to breadboard something. \$\endgroup\$
    – SteveSh
    Mar 25, 2023 at 22:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SteveSh A breadboard is absolutely a thing, and even if it's not an ISO standard, there is a standard design. It looks like this. Yes, it isn't the same as what "breadboard" used to mean in the 70s, but it is what it means now. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Mar 25, 2023 at 22:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Hearth - I disagree. What you showed is just one way of building a breadboard. \$\endgroup\$
    – SteveSh
    Mar 25, 2023 at 22:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it's pretty clear that @Hearth and the original asker are talking about the same device, i.e. the "solderless breadboard." As far as the actual question goes, it's probably quite simply that (aside from buses) there are very few nodes in any circuit that connect to more than five elements. (And those that do can simply jumper to another row.) In my experience, it's difficult to cram even five elements into a single breadboard row -- they all need to connect to other nearby rows after all, and with even a few four-device rows the complexity just skyrockets. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt S
    Mar 25, 2023 at 22:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SteveSh To engineers and hobbyists of my generation, the term "solderless breadboard" feels unnecessary and antiquated, as there isn't anything called a "soldered breadboard"; there's perfboard and stripboard, but those are called perfboard and stripboard. No one uses the old style of drilling holes into a sheet of wood anymore. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Mar 26, 2023 at 15:45

3 Answers 3

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So are there a lot of other formats online, or are there only a few worldwide sellers that produce other sizes?

If I view your question literally, I think it is more complicated than being either one or the other. I think, however, that I understand what you’re getting at – why do so many of the solderless breadboards we see have five-hole electrical contact strips as the rows? [I guess you found a few with six-hole rows.] Example here from Guide to Solderless Breadboards

The answer to the first part of the question, “are there a lot of other formats online” is; with respect to the characteristic in question, no, there are not. If there were, you would likely have already found them or others would have quickly pointed them out.

That begs the question, why not?

While I am certain that I am not a solderless "breadboard historian", I am, apparently, willing to try to address the question.

I believe that the integral issue to understand is the evolution of the concept of a breadboard. The name comes from the similarity to wooden breadboards used at the dinner table to hold the loaf of bread for cutting and serving. So, why not also use something like those, which were cheap and available, to assemble electronic components – and folks did, like this one, from The Evolution of Breadboards

From there, it seemed reasonable to start producing prototype boards that had patterns to accommodate soldering the components on the boards and especially DIP ICs, as they became widely available and popular.

Then, we get to the “solderless” breadboard, which seems a logical extension of the previous prototype solder boards. In a sense, I think that the onset of the popularity of the solderless breadboard also correlated with the continued increase in availability of the DIP IC. The advance was that they were not intended to be permanent - you could make multiple attempts at constructing the circuit without going through the soldering part - an extension of the plug board.

Having four connection points for each pin was enough for most, but not all, situations the customer might encounter. Similarly, the width of the separation between adjacent rows was intended to accommodate the width of many of the available DIP ICs, with even the larger pin ICs leaving a few connection points.

Take a look at the Wikipedia entry for Breadboards and the list of patents – especially the the last one from the early 1970s. Maybe that one gave rise to the beginning of the pseudo-standard that we see so frequently.

So why are you feeling left with the alternatives of having to “3D print or cut breadboards”?

Perhaps it is a simple matter of being caught between principles of "Necessity is the Mother of Invention", giving rise to the solderless breadboard initially, and subsequently leading to the current pseudo-standard ; and "Customer Need is the Impetus for Design Evolution" not [yet?] resulting in low cost alternatives of infinite variety.

In other words, given the various ways folks come up with to address the need when it does occur, e.g. cutting solderless breadboards to accommodate the width of some embedded controllers, or just using the availability and variety of prototype solder boards, and female header sockets, it may be that the need is simply not great enough for a manufacturer to make a profit.

That’s what I think anyways.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for answering, this indeed brings an explanation to why only a format of breadboard is spread around the world. It is surprising that company didn't launch new sizes, and didn't make money on that. "I am, apparently, willing to try to address the question.". Thank you for that ! \$\endgroup\$
    – BruceWawe
    Mar 31, 2023 at 19:39
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You mentioned:

The need of carrying a metal support or a connector to stick the breadboards together

This is actually not correct. See those little dimples on the side of the breadboard? They connect together with more breadboards. Put two breadboards side by side, put the outie-dimples of one under the innie-dimples of the other, and push them together vertically. All 4 sides should have dimples (2 innie and 2 outie) so you can stack them in both directions.

If you have an adhesive backing, you may need to trim a little bit underneath the innie-dimples since they don't cut holes for that. The adhesive backing is added last in the manufacturing process so it covers up all the connection points.

In fact, it looks like your breadboard already comes in 3 parts - two power rail sections, and the middle dual-5-hole section. You can pull those apart and mix-and-match however you want. Fully customizable breadboards! Again, the adhesive backing may get in the way when you try to separate them so you may need to cut it.

For lots of connections to the same node, take some of those extra power strip parts (I'm sure you don't need 2 sets of power rails in the middle every time you stack 2 breadboards together) and put a whole bunch of them together and now you have a really long breadboard with 25 holes per row.

Oh and did I mention adhesive backing? Yes, peel off the covering layer and then stick your entire breadboard arrangement onto whatever surface you like. It probably should be a metal sheet because if you want to take it off again, the glue will never come cleanly off cardboard. You can get metal sheets at the hardware store. But you asked how you could not do that, so don't if you don't want to.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi, Thanks for you message ! Indeed the dimples are really useful, but they break !! I had two breadboards and accidentaly forced to much the little dimples, and they became usless :/ I find that system not really well designed. It can be useful, but once you broke it, that's it :/ Having two breadboards glued together, with one power rail in the middle is indeed the solution I'm using right now. I don't use the adhesive much, but I do recognize that it can be useful sometimes. \$\endgroup\$
    – BruceWawe
    Mar 31, 2023 at 19:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BruceWawe well, maybe it's best to just recognize that shit happens, put the broken ones at the outside of your arrangement so you don't need all sides to connect, or buy some more. You said they were really useful until you broke them. Next time just be more careful not to break them. Of course you are also welcome to use some permanent glue if you want to. Maybe you glue two boards together with the broken dimples in the middle, then you have a big board with all working dimples. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2023 at 21:24
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A search for “large breadboard” on Google yields many larger breadboard formats. Here are just three examples:

breadboard1 (source: cdn-reichelt.de)

breadboard2 (source: cloudinary.com)

breadboard3
(source: digikey.com)

(There a many other formats which are the equivalent of 2, 3 or 4 basic breadboards side by side, but as a single board)

Each row still has 5 contacts (you just end up with up to 8 rows on the same line rather than just two), but you would need more only to connect more pins/components together, and you can still use wires for that if needed (and wire to a separate free row if needed).

This should accommodate both a relative large number of components and larger components (though I’d be curious to see what components you would plug directly into a breadboard which would need that much width — beyond a certain width boards are more likely to have female headers on top rather than male headers on the bottom).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ jcaron: Some of the ESP8266 and ESP32 boards like the nodeMCU and some Dev boards are well known to not fit on 5-pin contact strips. In those cases, formats that you posed, "which are the equivalent of 2,3 or 4 basic breadboards side by side" will not help at all because they don't fit on those either. See a link in my post or this one lucstechblog.blogspot.com/2018/08/… . \$\endgroup\$
    – DrG
    Mar 27, 2023 at 0:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ On the first example, just put them on columns H of the first set and C of the second. It's the same width as A to J on the first set, and that gives you 2 available pins for each row. \$\endgroup\$
    – jcaron
    Mar 27, 2023 at 0:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't know what "the first example" refers to, but I can tell you that I have a nodeMCU ESP8266 and several 30 pin and a 38 pin ESP32 Dev boards and two large solderless breadboards (OK Industries 4X and a JDR 3x with PS) and a half dozen 1X MB102 style and some smaller ones and they do not fit on any of them! If it were a simple matter of placement, don't you think people would figure that out and not dedicate websites to tell you how to cut them up to make them fit? If those boards fit on your breadboard please post a picture. \$\endgroup\$
    – DrG
    Mar 27, 2023 at 1:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DrG "the first example" is the first image in my answer just above these comments. Don't have either the breadboard nor the dev boards, but measuring on the pictures shows the distances are exactly right both on the first example (column H of the first set to column C of the second) and the second one (column E of the first set to column B of the second). \$\endgroup\$
    – jcaron
    Mar 27, 2023 at 9:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ The first and third picture you show are completely classic breadboards, on a very wide board. Hence, the same problems appears, too big, and powerails that you can't use cause they'r connected together. The second one has more pins in a single piece of breadboard, but again it is slightly too big, I would ideally need something that accept a ESP32, but not too wide. "though I’d be curious to see what components you would plug directly into a breadboard which would need that much width". Well put a relay, an ESP32, and RF receiver on your board, and you'r already short on space... \$\endgroup\$
    – BruceWawe
    Mar 31, 2023 at 19:36

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