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Needed: a trick to debug a circuit on a breadboard - (The Spaghetti Incident)

The situation:
I'm prototyping a circuit with a 14-legged logic IC on a breadboard.

What happens:
The picture tells it all: The breadboard looks like a Spaghetti Incident. What a mess. It's hard to find the right holes between all the leads sticking out, and avoiding shorts is even trickier.

And of course:
The circuit doesn't work. Not suprising considering the chaos. No biggie, but debugging a circuit on such a breadboard is a real pain!

So please:
Share your tips / tricks / magic to keep a proper and readable circuit on a breadboard.

Thanks! Ynze

PS: The circuit is not very complex btw. It's a solar engine, with one logic IC (NAND gates) and about 15 other parts. The circuit does contain feedback loops, which make it a bit trickier...

Picture of Needed: a trick to debug a circuit on a breadboard - (The Spaghetti Incident)
Breadboard-spaghetti-solved-03.jpg
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caitlinsdad4 years ago
Put some masking tape on the ic or the side of the board to mark the pins.
ynze (author)  caitlinsdad4 years ago
I got it all rounded up now thanks to your tips!

- I used a bigger breadboard
- I marked the IC's pins on the breadboard
- and I wrote the pin-numbers in the circuit, too.

Thanks!
Get more colors of wire to use.
Get a bigger breadboard.
ynze (author)  caitlinsdad4 years ago
The spaghetti-incident occurs around the IC, a bigger breadboard won't prevent that I guess. Marking the pins on the side of the board is a smart tip, though :-). Thanks!
What is that an SN74LS08?

Check out how I wired the ICs in this Instructable in step 8 I have a SN74LS08.

https://www.instructables.com/id/Emergency-Flashers/

Keep the data sheet close for reference if you don’t have the data sheets you can get them here.

http://www.maxim4u.com/

And here for free, just enter the part number in the search box.

http://www.alldatasheet.com/

Short wires flat to bread board and spread out the components keeps it easy to read, plus a large bread board is good for that.
caitlinsdad4 years ago
and one more: I think I saw this tip from MAKE (the other guys), clean off heavy duty stapler staples with acetone - there is some invisible coating - and then use them for tiny jumpers instead of bulky wire jumpers that you have to strip and make.
janw4 years ago
You really need a much larger breadboard! Then you can use more space between your components. The trick with breadboards is not trying to cram to much components in a tiny space. I use a board that is 3 times the bigger one in your picture and I'm often still out of space.

Are you building BEAMbots?
ynze (author)  janw4 years ago
...and I noticed your maiden I'ble is a beam bot, too :-)
janw ynze4 years ago
Yep, it all started for me with BEAM bots and I did build a fair amount of them. They are great starters projects.
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