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)
sort by: active | newest | oldest
1-10 of 18Next »
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.

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.

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

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

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.
1-10 of 18Next »