Breadboard Basics

An electronics breadboard is a solder-less platform designed for prototyping or temporarily creating circuits. One can test an idea by creating a preliminary model which can later be transferred to a more permanent form once it is perfected. Most breadboards are designed with center terminal strips, outer bus rails for supplying power, and a central void for Dual In-Line Package (DIP) support.

If you look at the right-hand side of the image above, you can see how a breadboard is electrically connected. The horizontal bus rails labeled + and are electrically connected along the entire length of the breadboard while the inner terminal strips are only vertically connected for 5 pin lengths. As can be seen on the left-hand side of the above image, the center canyon of the breadboard is perfectly designed to electrically isolate the two sides of a Dual In-Line Package (DIP) integrated circuit chip.

Jumper Wires

Connections are made on the breadboard by utilizing jumper wires which have pins on each end that can be inserted in each hole. As can be seen by the resistor on the left-hand side of our example breadboard image, vertical terminal strips are only electrically connected once a component or jumper wire is connected between two columns’ pin-sockets.

Typically, a power source is connected to the horizontal bus rails and electronic components are connected to the inner terminal strips. For most of the projects on this website, we will connect a female-to-male jumper wire from our Raspberry Pi’s GPIO GND (ground) to the rail of our breadboard’s power strip and we will connect either the 3.3 volt or 5 volt GPIO pin to the + rail.

The above image illustrates the simplicity of a breadboard’s electrical connections. However, it is the perfect platform for prototyping electronics experiments. Hopefully, this simple explanation of a breadboard’s functionality will aid in understanding the various layouts of the Raspberry Pi physical computing Projects on this website.

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