Power breakout

October 7, 2010 8:16:17 PM CDT

Here we have another prototyping tool: a board that does nothing but carry power and ground.

Power distribution is one thing traditional breadboards do well. Those rails running along both sides are so convenient that you don't realize how many taps you've made until it's time to strip the board for another project and you have to pull out all the jumpers.

Haystacking makes you more aware of your power connections. It isn't necessarily harder to run power anywhere, but the freeform layout means you have to look for the nearest connection point. It also means that the traditional rails-on-both-sides model doesn't work so well, mostly because it's hard to say where the 'sides' are.

This board gives you a central point where you can make half a dozen connections. The pads on the sides make it possible to daisy-chain boards together, so you can drop power nodes wherever you need them.

There's a 10uF capacitor in the center to keep ground-bounce and other noise from moving all over the circuit, and an LED so you know at a glance whether power has made it that far into the circuit.

The lower image shows a failed eariler version of the same board. I originally put the daisy-chain pads in the center, but when I tried to wire the first board, I realized that the incoming power and ground lines would be inverted.. to get power to the upper set of pads and ground to the lower ones, the red wire would have to go to the lower daisy-chain pad and the black wire would have to go to the upper one. That may not be a huge problem, but it's a source of potential confusion, and was worth eliminating.