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This feels like a very stupid question but how am I meant to use this area of protoboard on the Arduino XBee shield - these are straight through vias with no mid layer and so none of the holes are electrically connected. It's too small to sick a piece of breadboard to.

I was expecting it to be connected in rows like bread board / vero board but I've tested with a multimeter and nothing is connected - what am I missing?

enter image description here

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You're not missing anything in particular, as per other answers you can bend leads and use short lengths of wire to connect components which I often do. While it's lost poularity due to SMT technology another technique I often use is wire wrap. From that Wikipedia article here's an image of a typical connection using a traditional wire wrap post that has a square outline:

enter image description here

While the round shape of most through-hole component leads won't secure the wrap well I normally secure the component by soldering to the pad first, trim the lead a little and then wrap followed by a dollop of solder to secure the wire. One nice thing is that the wires are insulated so it's easy to make point-to-point connections without worrying about shorting.

While somewhat obsolete having wire wrap wire on hand is always useful even with professional work because with its very small diameter it's an excellent way to connect directly to fine pitch SMT pins to correct routing problems during prototyping.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, I remember using Wire Wrap at Uni to connect up a Motorola 68K to some logic gates and ROM - looks like I'll have to buy some or the wire and the wrapping tool then \$\endgroup\$ – SimonBarker Jun 29 '13 at 13:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is something close to micro welds that form at the corners, which is why the wraps are good connections. With round posts, solder is important \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Jun 29 '13 at 14:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've found wire-wrapping even ordinary round leads works well enough for simple prototyping. Add the solder after everything works so it can stand up to some handling, vibration, and temperature variation. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Frost Jun 29 '13 at 22:05
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These are not as convenient as bussed boards, but you can sure fit alot more on them! I like to mount my components, leave my leads a bit long, tin my jumpers well, and solder on to the long leads. Trim up the leads after everything works.

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You do get prototype boards like this also, though their use is probably less common.
To use them you can just solder wires between the component leads, or solder bare wire (or component leads) to form a "trace" across the pads to connect multiple nodes, and/or use solder blobs to connect pads to form a trace (if possible easily - usually this method is easier with square pads with little gap between, unlike this board)

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