Breadboard: All you need to know

Breadboards are one of the most fundamental pieces when learning how to build circuits. In this tutorial, you will learn a little bit about what breadboards are, why they are called breadboards, and how to use one. Once you are done you should have a basic understanding of how breadboards work and be able to build a basic circuit on a breadboard.


What is an breadboard?
The breadboard or solderless breadboard is the most popular tool used for prototyping (building temporary electronic circuits and testing them before the final version is permanently designed) without any need for soldering.

Which electronics components can be used on breadboards?
Almost all components that have leads and are known as THT (through the hole technology) components can be used on breadboards. Since there is no need for soldering, we can connect the components simply by pushing the leads into the hole’s metal clips.

Breadboard Terminology

Almost all modern (full-size and half-size) breadboards have numerous holes, letters, numbers, and blue and red lines that give the breadboard its standard appearance. Here is the terminology you must know:

To identify horizontal rows, numbers from 1 to 30 are printed on left and right edges on half-size breadboards, and to 60 or 63 on full-size breadboards. Some breadboards use skip-counting in fives, but it doesn’t change the main concept of rows numbering on breadboards.

Printed at the top and bottom of the breadboard are letters from “A” to “J” running horizontally and dividing the holes evenly into vertical lines.

Central gutter
A middle divider or “ravine” runs vertically and divides the breadboard symmetrically into left and right sides. As we mentioned earlier, the halves of the breadboard are electrically isolated from each other by the middle divider.

Vertical Bus
This consists of two vertical columns that are commonly known as “power rails.” Each breadboard contains two power rails located at the ends of both sides on the breadboard. The purpose of the power rails is to connect the circuit to an external power supply. One column is to connect the circuit with the positive voltage (+) and the other column is to connect the circuit with the ground (-).

Horizontal Row
The rows or “terminal strips” are where you are supposed to connect the electronic components. Rows are identified by numbers, and each row contains five holes on each side (left and right) separated by a middle divider. All five holes in the same row are electrically connected, but they must be on the same side.

How to build a circuit using a breadboard

1. Place the push button anywhere on the breadboard (do not put both leads on the same row). Connect it from one side to the ground bus (-) a via jumper wire.

2. Connect the other side of the push button directly to the resistor. “Directly” means there’s no need for jumper wire (remember that every five holes in the same row are connected by default).

3. Connect the negative lead (cathode) of the LED directly to the resistor.

4. Connect the positive lead (anode) of the LED to the positive bus (+) via a jumper wire.

5. Finally, connect the ground wire (-) from the power supply to the ground bus (-) on the breadboard, then connect the positive wire (+) from the power supply to the positive bus on the breadboard (+).

6. Press the push button to test the circuit. The LED should light up. ENJOY your first circuit.

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