Electronics News

Solderless breadboards

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - 2 hours 41 min ago

Solderless breadboards are one of the most fundamental pieces when learning how to build circuits and prototyping simple circuits. A breadboard is a construction base for prototyping of electronics. Breadboard are the ideal way to check out small bits of circuitry that you’re not sure about.

Originally it was literally a bread board, a polished piece of wood used for slicing bread: when electronics were big and bulky, people would grab their mom’s breadboard, a few nails or thumbtacks, and start connecting wires onto the board.

In the 1970s the solderless breadboard (AKA plugboard, a terminal array board) became available and nowadays the term “breadboard” is commonly used to refer to these. Because the solderless breadboard does not require soldering, you don’t need soldering iron to build circuits and all parts including the board are reusable. This makes it easy to use for creating temporary prototypes and experimenting with circuit design.

A modern solderless breadboard socket consists of a perforated block of plastic with numerous tin plated phosphor bronze or nickel silver alloy spring clips under the perforations. The clips are often called tie points or contact points. The spacing between the clips (lead pitch) is typically 0.1 in (2.54 mm). Integrated circuits (ICs) in dual in-line packages (DIPs) can be inserted to straddle the centerline of the block. Interconnecting wires and the leads of discrete components (such as capacitors, resistors, and inductors) can be inserted into the remaining free holes to complete the circuit.

Solderless breadboards are available from several different manufacturers. Jump wires (also called jumper wires) for solderless breadboarding can be obtained in ready-to-use jump wire sets or you can use any suitable solid conductor wire as jumper wire.


How to Use a Breadboard

Prototyping is the process of testing out an idea by creating a preliminary model from which other forms are developed or copied, and it is one of the most common uses for breadboards. If you aren’t sure how a circuit will react under a given set of parameters, it’s best to build a prototype and test it out. The real beauty of breadboards is that they can house both the simplest circuit as well as very complex circuits.

Terminal strips metal rows have little clips that hide under the plastic holes. These clips allow you to stick a wire or the leg of a component into the exposed holes on a breadboard, which then hold it in place and make electrical contact. Once inserted that component will be electrically connected to anything else placed in that row. There is a ravine that isolates the two sides of a breadboard. This ravine serves a very important purpose allowing to connect ICs in DIP package to board – we can connect components to each side of the IC without interfering with the functionality of the leg on the opposite side.

You make the connections between metal rows with wired components and jumper wires. Typical board boards use 22AWG wire as jumpers. You can use solid 22 AWG wire pieces dirctly. Or you can buy ready made jumper wire set with connectors that plug nicely to board on their ends.


Links to some tutorials:

How to Use a Breadboard at Sparkfun

How to Use a Breadboard at Instructables

There are numerous options for powering breadboards. Some breadboards have binding posts that allow you to connect external power sources. The first step to using the binding posts is to connect them to the breadboard using some jumper wires. There are also special power supplies that plug to breadboard, like 3.3V / 5V Power Module for Breadboard I tested some years ago.

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

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.

Examples of interesting projects built to breadboard:







Accessories and tips:

8 Breadboard Hacks




Electromechanical limitations

Breadboards cannot accommodate components with multiple rows of connectors if these connectors do not match the dual in-line layout—it is impossible to provide the correct electrical connectivity. Sometimes small PCB adapters called “breakout adapters” can be used to fit the component to the board.



Solderless breadboards usually cannot accommodate surface-mount technology devices (SMD) or components with grid spacing other than 0.1 in (2.54 mm). You typically need some adapter to connect SMD components to breadboard. Many SMD -> thru-hole adaptor boards are available online that will allow you to use SMD parts with a breadboard. SMD is easily handled with breakouts – SM discretes can be easily soldered to 0.1″ pin headers. The following web pages give tips for making and using such adapters:




Electrical limitations

There are some limitations on breadboard performance for protyping that should be taken into account. Typically the spring clips are rated for 1 ampere at 5 volts and 0.333 amperes at 15 volts (5 watts). There are board with higher ratings, like for example 36V @ 2 Amps – if you plan to go to this powe range make sure that the board can handle it. General advice (unless you know for sure that it is OK) is never go above 1A since there is no restore button after you melted it. Breadboards are certainly not suited for mains voltage.

One thing that can also cause problems with these is the quality of the contacts. Some of those breadboards have quite weak mating points, so there are a lot of resistance variance. The relatively high and somewhat variable contact resistance can already be a problem for some circuits.

There is also a relatively large parasitic capacitance compared to a properly laid out PCB (approx 2pF between adjacent contact columns), high inductance of some connections and a relatively high and not very reproducible contact resistance. Because of those limitations solderless breadboards are limited to operation at relatively low frequencies, usually less than 10 MHz, depending on the nature of the circuit. Hackaday has article on Solderless Breadboard Parasitics. Heree are two videos on breadboard parasitic capacitance. First video shows capacitance measurements:

Second video tells about parasitics and shows what’s inside breadboard:

The inductance of the traces/wires also cannot be ignored especially for higher frequencies. This is another reason why breadboards are usually only suited for simple circuits well under 1Mhz, with higher frequencies may be possible if very carefully used). It’s one of those “it depends” things. For say TTL level digital stuff you can probably get away with running 10MHz on a breadboard if done carefully. On sensitive circuits even 100KHz is going to cause trouble due to the loop inductances, capacitance, and general dickiness. 2.5pF at 1MHz is about 63k ohms. If you have a circuit where stray 63k impedances are a problem then 1MHz is too high. A lot of digital circuits wouldn’t care about a stray 1k. Advice from eevblog discussion board: “In my experience, anything TTL that is readily available in DIL packages (say 74F/HCT/HC) is slow enough so stray capacitance of breadboard does not make much of a difference, you get effects of insufficient decoupling (which is not exactly trivial on breadboard) or even problems with correct probing much sooner than anything related to stray capacitance.”

Keep in mind that there is some capacitance between a contact and the ground plane formed by the metal plate that the board and binding posts are mounted on. Breadboard mounted on a metal plate can have ~2.5pF between contacts at 100kHz. If you are looking for a worst case scenario and add everything up: signal and ground on both sides (2*2pF) + power rail (1pF) + across center gap (1pF).

When to avoid using a breadboard

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

One thing you really shouldn’t try to use them for is any sort of switching regulator.

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

Particularly I’m almost not using more breadboard. It’s rare. – Daniel Grillo

Be warned that with any complicated circuit on breadboard you will end up spending lotsof the time troubleshooting the breadboard. The probability of dodgy connections means that larger designs are more prone to problems and should probably be avoided.

If you are building something that has may components, consider if it would make sense to hardwire the circuitry. It does not take too much longer with right tools. You can something like Veroboard or make PCB at home if I need a prototype quickly.


Categories: Electronics News

Secret chips in replacement parts can completely hijack your phone’s security | Ars Technica

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - 6 hours 30 min ago


Booby-trapped touchscreens can log passwords, install malicious apps, and more.

People with cracked touch screens or similar smartphone maladies have a new headache to consider: the possibility the replacement parts installed by repair shops contain secret hardware that completely hijacks the security of the device.

The research, in a paper presented this week at the 2017 Usenix Workshop on Offensive Technologies, highlights an often overlooked disparity in smartphone security. 

Categories: Electronics News

Web-Based Universal Remote for Under $4 (Probably) – Hackster.io

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - 19 hours 6 min ago


Don’t buy a universal remote, make one. It’s cheaper, funner, universal-er, kind of, and you get to learn the ESP8266, kind of.
You will need the Arduino IDE with whatever OS. Alternatively Linux and some C skills for the official Espressif stuff, but that’s unnecessarily challenging for this application.

To get IR control codes connect an IR Receiver to my Arduino UNO and use Ken Shirriff’s tools. The IRrecord demo does great with this. 


The server code that runs the ESP uses a file system. This makes updating and otherwise modifying your HTML a breeze.

You can access the ESP server through its IP on your home wifi. 

Categories: Electronics News

Solar Eclipse warnings: Dangerous Fake Eclipse Glasses and other dangers

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Thu, 2017-08-17 02:59

Solar eclipse is nearing for people who live in USA. You can enjoy he view  and even make scientific experiments (like verify yourself Was Einstein Right?). Whatever you do, be sure to know what to do to be safe.

As  August 21 solar eclipse in USA nears, remember that it’s extremely dangerous to look at the sun directly, even if most of its light is obscured by the moon. Because retinas have no pain receptors, you can permanently damage your vision without even feeling it happen

Don’t look at the sun during a solar eclipse directly!

If you want to watch, you need suitable protective glasses to watch solaer eclipse safely.

How to View the 2017 Solar Eclipse Safely web page at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety says:

Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality.
The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” 

 If your eclipse glasses or viewers are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard, you may look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun through them for as long as you wish.

An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is pinhole projection.

Experts suggests that one widely available filter for safe solar viewing is welders glass of sufficiently high number. The only ones that are safe for direct viewing of the Sun with your eyes are those of Shade 12 or higher. These are much darker than the filters used for most kinds of welding.

Other sources say that ISO 12312-2 is what should be printed on glasses. Or use welding goggles #14. Inspect protective glasses before you try to use them – if there are any pin holes or scratches – toss the glasses.

Scammers Are Flooding The Market With Dangerous Fake Eclipse Glasses – Here’s What Brands Are Safe To Buy | IFLScience


As August 21 nears, scammers are flooding the market with fake solar eclipse glasses. As retailers run out of eclipse glasses, some people are being duped by glasses that may look real, but that won’t actually protect your eyes. 

“It’s a bunch of unscrupulous people cashing in on the eclipse and putting public safety at risk,” 

Check that your eclipse glasses are safe is to see if they have the ISO logo on them. The AAS and NASA have also published a list of legitimate companies.

Alternatives that could work:

STEM Camp: Build Your Own Solar Eclipse Viewer article at https://www.livescience.com/33906-solar-eclipse-viewer.html shows how to make simple device to view solar aclipse safely.
Let us make this perfectly clear: Don’t look at the sun during a solar eclipse!
That’s not to say you can’t watch it indirectly, though. This article says that a good way to view an eclipse is through a simple pinhole camera. To build one, all you need are a few household supplies.

Another idea that comes to mind is an indirect viewing with help of digital camera. It would be safe for your eyes to look indirect view on camera monitor. The question is that can pointing a camera to sun damage it? If it’s a digital camera, yes, it can damage the sensor. It depends a lot on the type of camera, focal length, shutter speed, and how bright the sun is (overcast, noon, etc.). Because the light and heat from the sun is so intense, you also need neutral density filter. More details: Beginner’s Guide to Photographing the 2017 Solar Eclipse on Budget

Can I damage my camera by pointing it at the sun?

Your immediate reaction is probably a lot like mine. NO WAY! Well not so fast. It depends on the kind of camera you’re using. If you’ve got a digital SLR, you’ll be totally fine. If you’re using a point-and-shoot model, you might get into trouble. There’s a simple rule of thumb for all of this. If something is so bright that it hurts your eyes to look at it, that thing will probably damage your camera too. Protect your eyes! Also never look through the viewfinder of your camera when it’s pointed directly at the sun.

Will taking a picture of the sun damage my cell phone camera?

Most camera CMOS sensors have a UV shield coating so they won’t be damaged by shooting the sun. Some don’t, however.

No it will not damage it, the sensor is protected by filters and the lens is small, it doesnt focus enough light to be damaging. A dslr camera with a large telephoto lens can be damaged if the sensor is exposed for longer than a high speed snap (video or long exposure) without additional filters.


Categories: Electronics News

Morgan Stanley Predicts Market For Grid Storage Will Explode In Next 3 Years | CleanTechnica

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Thu, 2017-08-17 02:13


A new report authored by Stephen Byrd, a utility and cleantech analyst at Morgan Stanley, and Adam Jonas, its auto analyst, shows that they are bullish on the market for grid storage products. “Demand for energy storage from the utility sector will grow more than the market anticipates by 2019–2020,” the pair says.
They predict the demand for grid-scale storage will increase from less than $300 million a year today to as much as $4 billion in the next 2–3 years because of the low price of wind and solar energytogether with the falling price of grid storage products.

Categories: Electronics News

A Guide to Arduino Based Video Camera | Open Electronics

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Wed, 2017-08-16 17:53


Let’s have a look at a couple of video camera modules with Arduino support. You can easily order and use them for your project. Thus, let’s create a quite cheap video-camera that fully meets your expectations.

Categories: Electronics News

Visual Development with XOD

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Wed, 2017-08-16 02:45


This looks interesting:

 If you program microcontrollers like the Arduino, you should check out XOD and see how you like visually creating software.

The software is open source and currently, can target the Arduino or Raspberry Pi.

Some alternative visual programming tools:

– LabVIEW RT or Matlab Simulink – both very powerful, very stable, closed source and very expensive
– Scilab Xcos – powerful, unstable, open source, free
– MyOpenLab – enough power, stable, open source, free

Visual tools already  covered on this blog:

Scratch - http://www.epanorama.net/newepa/2016/03/01/scratch-visual-programming/

- Node-Red - http://www.epanorama.net/newepa/2015/11/10/node-red/

- many other at http://www.epanorama.net/newepa/2013/11/11/visual-programming-for-arduino/

Categories: Electronics News

GNOME at 20

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Tue, 2017-08-15 13:26


The GNOME desktop for Linux turned 20 today on August 15. The 20th anniversary is definitely something to celebrate! 

In the 20 years its initial release, GNOME has continued to innovate and improve.

Categories: Electronics News

Sapcorda Plans Centimeter-scale GPS for Europe – IEEE Spectrum

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Tue, 2017-08-15 12:04


Germany’s Bosch and Geo++u-blox of Switzerland, and Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric announced the establishment of Sapcorda Services, a joint-venture that plans to provide global navigation satellite system (GNSS) positioning services of centimeter-level accuracy via satellite transmission, mobile cellular technology, and the Internet.
The U.S.-operated Global Positioning System (GPS) is only accurate to about 10 meters, while Europe’s corresponding Galileo system now has an accuracy of 1 meter.

Details at the Sapcorda announcement were sketchy, but essentially it plans to augment GPS and Galileo positioning data in Europe by employing surveyed reference stations on the ground. 

Categories: Electronics News

Smartphones killed the compact and now they’re coming for entry-level ILCs: Digital Photography Review

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Tue, 2017-08-15 02:08


But what does “better than my phone” picture quality actually mean?

One of those key differentiating factors has been the “pretty blurry background” effect that an interchangeable lens camera is capable of producing: sharp focus on the subject, a soft blurry background. And you know that your phone can’t do it – until now. 

Smartphone cameras can’t get any bigger than they already are, but they can get smarter. Several phones can do blurry background effect with their tiny cameras with some “software magic.” Once smartphones can do a reasonably good imitation of things like bokeh and optical zoom (we are getting there), those who never wanted to pick up a dedicated camera won’t have to.

Lots of people who do want the image quality benefits traditionally associated with a DSLR actually want nothing to do with a DSLR. 

It’s not even a question of if the $500 ILC becomes obsolete, it’s a matter of when. And when may actually be right now.

For most people, smartphone cameras will be good enough for casual photography. There will be some market for higher end cameras for professionals, but the entry level camera (point and shoot) market is eaten by smartphones.

Categories: Electronics News

How to make a low-cost guitar amp with Linux | Opensource.com

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Tue, 2017-08-15 00:13


With just a guitar, a cable, and open source software, you’ve no need to “Gimmie Some Money” to take your home recording studio to 11.
Categories: Electronics News

Taking Down the Internet Has Never Been Easier

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Mon, 2017-08-14 12:22


Is there a reason why the Internet is so vulnerable? Actually, there are many, and taking steps to remain protected is crucial.
On October 29, 1969, two computers linked via telephone exchanged a couple of letters, then crashed. 

Fast-forward 48 years, where everything — including the kitchen sink, in the case of smart kitchens — is hardwired to a massive network of networks (and things).

In 2016 alone, more than 1 zettabyte of data was sent and received over networks. Today, the Internet hosts billions of devices.

There is no single reason for this current state of vulnerability. Instead, there’s a confluence of contributing factors.

Devastating DDoS attacks aren’t new - modern attacks, however, rely on large botnets of misconfigured IoT. As of the writing of this piece, bad bots are responsible for almost 30% of the Web traffic.

The DNS system is one of the most heavily targeted subcomponents of the Internet.

Routing is another hot issue related to the welfare and neutrality of the Internet.

Digital trust plays a key role in keeping things normal.  Certificate authority abuse is one problem.

Endpoint Security Is a Serious Cause for Concern.

Despite these challanges, the Internet has survived all these incidents, and gracefully waltzed through the IPv4 address pool depletion issue. Still, the security of the Internet is serious cause for concern. 

Categories: Electronics News

Error 404: A Look At Digital Decay

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Mon, 2017-08-14 07:42


The internet is stitched together by an incalculable number of hyperlinks, but much like cells in an organism, the sources and destinations have a finite lifespan. Essentially, links can and do die.
Most “link rot” is the result of website restructuring, or entities going out of business and pulling their website offline.
This idea of a public record is at the heart of why digital decay is an issue worth addressing. What record will remain of people’s thoughts and feelings in that era?

Supreme Court decisions and academia lean heavily on citations to build their arguments. What happens when those citations simply vanish? Also Wikipedia, has serious issues caused by digital decay.

Thankfully we’re finally taking steps to combat digital decay. The most well-known solution is Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which has archived hundreds of billions webpages over the past 20 years. 

I have known about the link dacay for a long time when tried to keep the huge link list in aPanorama.net up to date. Over years I have had to scale down the maintenance on them – too much work to try to keep everything up to date all the time (need for some automation?)

Categories: Electronics News

Considerations for styling the < pre > tag – The Media Temple Blog

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Mon, 2017-08-14 00:48


It’s not a trivial amount of effort to get code blocks displaying nicely on a site, but very doable. 
This article gives tips how to show program source code nicely on web page:

You’ve probably used it. It’s that very special tag in HTML that allows for the white space within the tags to actually be honored. The <pre> tag is useful indeed.
The “pre” of a <pre> tag literally means “preformatted text” – which doesn’t say anything about what that text is. A <code> tag, semantically, says the text within is code. Makes sense to me!

Since the primary use case of the <pre> tag is blocks of code and code is generally written in a monospace font, setting a monospace font-familyis probably a good idea.

When styling, you’ll have to make the choice: wrap or not to wrap.

There is no shortage of syntax highlighting options out there – for example Prism.js

If you use actual tab characters in the blocks of text within <pre> tags (not just multiple spaces that look like tabs), you might be surprised at how wide those tab characters render (defaul 8). Seems like 4 spaces is more normal in coding environments.

Categories: Electronics News

Open source is driving digital transformation, according to mainstream businesses – TechRepublic

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Sun, 2017-08-13 01:46


Many of us declared victory for open source years ago, once it came to dominate key industry trends like big data, mobile, and cloud. 

But the real sign of winning is when mainstream enterprises talk about open source as part of their earnings calls. Once open source becomes a key component of financial performance, the momentum is unstoppable. For a large financial services company to publicly acknowledge the importance of open source to its services is a big deal.
As Google, Facebook, and other web giants know, open source (often coupled with cloud) gives enterprises the flexibility to innovate faster. To do it well, companies must invest in developers who contribute code. That’s open source done right.

Categories: Electronics News

Students design rotary phone that can literally dial up the internet

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Sun, 2017-08-13 01:03


This is a funny retro hardware hack:

A group of students from the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design have used a vintage telephone to create a screen-free experience of the internet. 

Categories: Electronics News

IoT: The Interference of Things | EDN

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Sun, 2017-08-13 01:00


The writer of this article declares that IoT stands for “Interference of Things.” Anything else you may have heard is just marketing hype.
Relatively few connected gadgets will use wireline communications, the bulk of these devices will connect wirelessly over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular or something else. Some IoT devices will be designed to limit EMI emissions to the proper channels and reject out-of-band power, but many won’t. 

Price, power, and size pressures will cause some companies to sell products that work just well enough to pass minimum requirements, if that. There are many connected devices that undergo only self-certification, some of those products would likely fail compliance tests on out of band noise. Also cheap heterodyne receivers are more are more likely to succumb to interference (from other devices or jammers) than more expensive designs.

As connected wireless devices become more popular, it’s clear that the interference they cause and fail to reject will keep EMI engineers employed for many more years

Categories: Electronics News

The story of Perl’s role in the dynamic web | Opensource.com

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Sat, 2017-08-12 03:42


The web’s early history is generally remembered as a few seminal events: the day Tim Berners-Lee announced the WWW-project on Usenet, the document with which CERN released the project’s code into the public domain, and of course the first version of the NCSA Mosaic browser in January 1993. 
In the mid- to late-1990s, Perl and the dynamic web were nearly synonymous. As a relatively easy-to-learn interpreted language with powerful text-processing features, Perl made it easy to write scripts (sometimes easy to write but not so easy for other people to read) to connect a website to a database, handle form data sent by users. Such website features came in the form of CGI scripts. 

Perl was the perfect small-but-powerful tool—the Swiss Army Chainsaw—that powered informational media. This article tells the fascinating story of Perl and early web.

I remember those times. I began to use Mosaic in 1993. I have used Perl on ePanorama.net site years ago for discussion board. Nowadays in most sites frameworks built using PHP and Python have have taken Perl’s place, and node.js is rising. 

Categories: Electronics News


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