Getting Started with BreadBoard
In this post, i am going to get started on the bread board and then i am going to give a brief introduction about a software tool called Fritzing. I will include the step by step process for installing and will demonstrate how to work with Fritizing in both Schematic and BreadBoard View.
In the post “what is circuit diagram” we created our very first circuit diagram as shown in Fig.1 and now we want to take the actual components and work on that. Before doing that its better that we take a look into one of the most fundamental prototyping tool and one of the easiest to use software tool.
So before implementation let me introduce you to a very nifty hardware tool called a breadboard. It looks something like as shown in Fig.2
This is one of the most fundamental pieces that is a must to know. It‚Äôs actually a very great tool for learning by doing and it allows easy prototyping of smaller circuits.
Prototyping is a process of testing out an idea or a preliminary circuit based on which you develop your complete circuit. So if you are not sure how a certain piece of circuit or certain sensors or certain elements in circuit behave just build a prototype on the breadboard and test it out.
For those who are new to electronics and circuits, breadboards are often the best place to start. They can help in understanding the circuits that are both simple and complex in nature.
Another primary use of breadboard is to test out certain IC that you have never used before. It will help you figure out how it works and what the IC requires the signal to make it work.
The connection inside a bread board is shown in Fig. 3
The image shows the two power rails at the two ends. That is usually used for powering the circuit. Then the board has a vertical set of 5 points that are interconnected for easy prototyping. The gap you see between the two vertical sets of points is there to support DIP packages.
Installing Fritzing is quite simple. But i have presented the steps anyway.
Step – 1 Go to Download Page
Here is a link to the download page of Fritzing. Snapshot for the same has been updated below.
Step – 2 Select No Donation and Hit the Download Button
If you can donate then well you should if you don’t then just simply hit the No Donation Radio Button and then click the newly activated Download button as shown in the figure below.
After going to download page, one more thing to do is to select the file according to the operating system you have. So based on your operating system settings download the appropriate file as shown in Figure below.
Step – 3 Go to Location of Download
Go to the download location of the file you just downloaded. For windows users, you will see the zip file as shown in the image. The file size will be approx 50 – 55 MB for 32bit and 64bit users. The image below you can see the zip file has been downloaded to my location.
Step – 4 Extract the content of this Zip File
Next what you have to do is to extract the content of this zip file either in the same location or in the location of your choice it is all up to you. Point to note that Fritizing is still in beta and is still a standalone application meaning it does not require any installation. So basically, wherever you extract it that folder will become its installation folder and you have to come to that folder every time to open the application.
Step – 5 Execute the Fritzing Application
The next step is to execute the fritzing application from the extracted folder. It will take some time to open and will load its plugins and what not. Here i have highlighted the exact file to be executed just in case you guys get confused.
Step – 6 Welcome to Fritzing
Once you get the welcome screen shown below you are done installing the fritzing and can start working on it.
Basics of Fritzing – A Little Demonstration
Before starting to work on Fritzing, I will just give a little demonstration of Fritzing. Here I will give you an introduction to the the views that are available in Fritzing and replicating the schematic diagram here in Fritzing.
There are 4 views in Fritzing.
1 – BreadBoard View
This is the view that we are going to use to create our pictorial schematic diagram. For beginners this helps them explain how the actual connection can be done on the BreadBoard. This is the view that makes Fritzing stand out from the rest of the software and tools. All our schematic, we will be converting to pictorial schematic using this view of Fritzing.
2 – Schematic View
This is a schematic view this is where we drew our very first schematic.(Figure 1). In the next section step by step, I will show you how to create the same schematic. Using this, we can draw any standard schematic diagram.
3 – PCB View
This is a PCB view. What is PCB? Well PCB is a Perforated Circuit Board. When our design is finalized and we have verified that our schematic works. We use this view to layout our components on a PCB and then according to our size and need we adjust that layout and prepare a layout for our own PCB. This layout is used by manufacturers to develop actual physical boards. So if ever we need to physically create our own custom layout PCB we need to know how to work with this view.
4 – Code View
This is a code View. Here we write codes that will eventually run on microcontrollers.
Working with Schematic View
Here is a breakdown of the schematic view.
There are two major component in the schematic view. One there is a drawing area where we draw the schematic and second we have a components library on the right from where we populate our schematic with required component. There are two easy steps to creating a schematic.
Step – 1 Populating the Drawing with required components
This is quite simple as in our very first schematic(Fig. 1) we are aware of the components that we are going to use. So in the below snapshot I have populated the drawing area with the required components that I took from the components library.
Step – 2 Making wiring connection between them
This step requires us to create a proper connection between these components. To create a connection. Double click on the edge of the component then click and drag to create a wire and then drop it onto the next component. This will create a green highlight on the component which suggests that the connection was properly made. Here in Fig. 17 I have shown the fully connected schematic diagram. Do note that the components are green if there is a successful connection and red if the connection is not complete.
Note: – Advantage of using Fritizing is that once you populate any component into the schematic diagram the same components get populated to all the views that are the breadboard and the PCB view. So once the connection is done in the schematic view you don’t need to do the same for rest of the views. Fig. 18 and Fig. 19 shows the views of both bread board and PCB after making connections in a schematic view.
Working with BreadBoard View
Thanks to Fritizing, all our components have already been populated in the BreadBoardView and it makes its easy for us to redo the connection from that point onwards. It all just becomes a simple dragging and re arranging. Currently, in our BreadBoard view is like shown in the Fig. 20.
Now for the connection, it all depends on person to person how they want to connect the components on the bread board. BreadBoard allows a lot of creative connection in numerous ways. I like to make a connection using minimum cabling as possible relying mostly on the connection inside the bread board itself as shown in Fig 21.
But most people use wires for connection as shown in Fig 22 below as it makes for easy understanding and enhances traceability.
So whichever way you want you can do the connection. I suggest be more creative and come up with your own style of connection. Over a period of time and practice, you will come to know how to use breadboard better and when and where to use wire for connections.