Articles/Electronics/Other/Building Your Own Experimenter Board

An experimentation board is a great tool for anyone interested in electronics. It allows you to easily connect components without solder, making changes easy and convenient. Such boards are most often used for design and debugging and the final product is placed on a printed circuit board.

When designing your board, you have to decide what features and modules you want. Common modules are LED arrays, speakers, transformers, buttons, switches, and sensors. Most of these are used for input and output to test a circuit's operation. If you are only going to be testing logic circuits, you might only want to add LEDs and buttons. If you are building audio circuits, you will probably want a permanent piezo buzzer or speaker in place to output your sound to. If you want maximum flexibility, it is best to add all of these modules, although they can potentially be added in the future.

Once you have decided what modules you want on your board, you must find a suitable item to place all of these items on. The easiest material to work with is plastic, since it is easily drilled and glued. Metal is the most difficult to work with, but also the strongest. In any case, you should find or build a hollow box using the material that can be opened if necessary to add, remove, or modify your modules.

The first essential item for the board is a breadboard, which is a plastic block with rows of holes that allow insertion of components. These are available for reasonable prices from electronics hobbyist stores such as Jameco Electronics. The breadboard should be glued to the top surface of your board in a place where it is easy to reach and view.

Now it is time to install your modules. All electronic components such as LEDs should be mounted on the board and their leads should be connected to wire receptacles. Common types of receptacles are springs and small sockets. To make LED connection easier, you can set up a saturated transistor circuit with a small battery stored on the board.

It is also convenient to have a way to hook up power supplies. If you don't have a nice variable power supply with banana plugs, you can make your own power supply using AC/DC adapters that can plug right into your breadboard. If you have a power supply with banana plugs, you can purchase banana plug receptacles that can be mounted on the board.

Extra features for your board can help make circuit building easier. Charts of component codes allow for easy references and a magnifying glass will help you see the tiny numbers on certain components. You can also mount a light that will allow you to see in darkness.

If this sounds like too much of a challenge, these boards are sold online and can be purchased at reasonable prices. However, it is much more educational and satisfying to build your own.