This instructable will guide someone with no experience in electronics through prototyping their first circuits on a breadboard. You will need a few basic components to get started:

LED: white, red, green, blue
220 resistor
5V power supply/battery/arduino board
solderless breadboard and jumper wire - It's a good idea to get many colors of wire (esp black and red) so that you can keep your breadboard organized.

Step 1: The Basics

The purpose of the breadboard is to make quick electrical connections between components- like resistors, LEDs, capacitors, etc- so that you can test your circuit before permanently soldering it together.  Breadboards have many small sockets on them, and some groups of sockets are electrically connected to each other.  On the underside of the board there are many small metal strips which physically connect certain groups of sockets together and allow electricity to flow freely between them.  These strips are probably not visible on the underside of your breadboard, but the third picture shows how they are organized.

Breadboards are usually divided into four sections, two outer sections and two inner sections.  Each row of five sockets in the inner sections are electrically connected to each other (see the green lines in figure 3).  The two outer sections of the breadboard are usually used exclusively for power.  On many breadboards these sockets will be labeled with colors denoting positive voltage (usually red) and ground (black or blue).  It is important to note that on many breadboards the power lines only run half the length of the board (as indicated in figure 3).  You will need to run a wire between these two sections to send power to from one end to the other.  There is nothing special about the outer sections of the breadboard that makes particularly suitable for power other than that they run most of  the length of the board, but if you choose to use these rows for other things you may confuse others or even yourself, so it is good practice to use these for power only.

<p>Very nice 'ible.</p><p>If I may, I would like to offer one correction to your information in Step 3. You mention that &quot;Electric current always runs from high voltage to ground in a circuit.&quot; This, however is incorrect (I run across this quite often in teaching electronics.) The only thing, in electronic circuits, which moves, is electrons. Electrons have a negative charge to them. When you have a voltage difference in a circuit, electrons will leave the negative terminal of the power supply (battery, etc.) and be attracted to the positive terminal - &quot;opposites attract.&quot;</p><p>Your LED is actually connected correctly, but the current flow goes against the arrow, not with it. Back when we used tubes, they would actually have a heater inside them to heat up the cathode, so that the electrons would flow off the cathode, towards the anode, more easily (I started in electronics in 1962, tubes was about it. :-) )</p><p>Also, not to take away from your great Instructable, I wrote up a paper on breadboards, including their history, and why they are called breadboards. It does not go into anywhere near as much detail on how to use them as you do, but you may find it interesting for the history. You can find it on my projects site at: <a href="http://projects.granzeier.com/what-is-a-breadboard/" rel="nofollow">http://projects.granzeier.com/what-is-a-breadboard/</a>.</p>
<p>I am curious about your comment &quot;I run across this quite often in teaching electronics&quot;<br><br>Do you mean you were teaching electronics, because if that is the case you are actually teaching people incorrectly. Electric current is not the same as electron flow. Referring to electron flow while you are teaching people is doing them a significant disservice, as they move on to the higher mathematics of electrical engineering they will have to be untrained and then retrained to think about electricity as current rather than electron flow.</p>
<p>No Sir, I must stick to my original claim: electron flow (which IS current flow - the ampere which is the measure of current flow, describes the &quot;number of electrons to pass a point in a circuit in one second&quot;) is from negative to positive. As, I said, there is nothing else moving inside an electrical circuit besides electrons. And, with a negative charge, they must move away from a negative charge, and towards a more positive charge.<br><br>The idea that current flows from positive to negative (as mentioned by Jseay, below) comes from Ben Franklin. He was handicapped by a lack of understanding of the nature of atoms, and the complete lack of knowledge of sub-atomic particles. While a brilliant scientist, Franklin did not have the technology to understand the inner working of the atom.<br><br>Today, we know that an electron (from the valence, or outer, orbit of an atom) is attracted to another atom by a positive charge. This atom will leave the valence of it's atom, and jump into the valence of a neighboring atom, in the direction of the positive charge. The lack of the electron in the previous atom gives that atom a positive charge, which then &quot;attracts&quot; an electron from the neighbor down-stream (closer to the negative charge.) These positive charges appear to be moving from positive to negative. But current (the flow of electrons) is always from negative.<br><br>Also, as Jseay alludes to, engineers will often use the idea of current flowing from positive to negative (hole theory) in design (or troubleshooting.) This is often a good way to design a circuit. It is similar to the idea that, often, the best way to solve a maze is to start at the end, and work your way back to the beginning. You plan a trip in a similar way: you do not look at where you are starting, but rather where you want to end up. Then you plan your trip in that direction.<br><br>And, yes, I do mean teaching electronics &ndash; and all of my teaching has been in college-level institutions. And, yes, I have had the complete backing of my Chair, and department heads. As I mentioned, there are often times that engineers must work &ldquo;backwards,&rdquo; but to teach students to ignore the physical reality of their circuit is the real disservice. Also, I have never heard of any of my students needing to unlearn current flow, in order to relearn engineering mathematics.<br><br>So, as I stated above, I must stick with my original claim: electron flow (which IS current flow) is from negative to positive.</p>
<p>What you've observed is the difference between conventional flow and electron flow in circuits. Ben Franklin started the &quot;convention&quot; of describing electricity as flowing from positive to negative. By the time science figured out electrons were going the opposite direction, the terminology had taken hold, and &quot;conventional flow&quot; is still used in certain fields. <a href="http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/vol_1/chpt_1/7.html" rel="nofollow">All About Circuits</a> offers an interesting detailed explanation.</p>
<p>I was scouring the internet trying to find a way to get my 7 segment display wired correctly. No one but you actually taught me how with visible chip schematics. I loved making it.</p>
<p>excellent - many thanks</p>
<p>Just a note to let you know I have added this ( a year ago ) to the instructable:</p><p> Comprehensive Guide to Electronic Breadboards: A Meta Instructable</p><p>&gt;&gt; <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Comprehensive-Guide-to-Electronic-Breadboards-A-Me/" rel="nofollow"> https://www.instructables.com/id/Comprehensive-Gui...</a></p><p>Take a look at a bunch of project involving breadboards.</p>
<p>Very Informative. Thank you.</p>
<p>it's a very informative instructable...thank you very much</p>
<p>this is great now i can make use of this bread board i have had for ever and had no idea what to do with. I have looked at a lot of youre instructables and see that you do a lot with electronics , have you done much with PIC programming? Im looking into building NES reproduction cartridges and things of that nature. Im also curious about the teensey++ 2.0 development board and what i can do with it as well.</p>
Hi, Why are the 10k resistor for? Can't I just connect pins D0-D3 directly to Ground or Vcc?
no, it will draw too much current and damage the arduino.
Hi All:<br><br>I use these plugboards all the time, I have dozens of them.<br><br>I don't particularly like the standard 22 gauge jumper wire.<br>I have found other wire I like much much better.<br><br>I use 8 conductor &quot;Telephone house wiring wire&quot;.<br>No, not the flexible stuff that goes from the instrument to the wall jack.<br>I mean the stuff behind the wall. It looks like 26 gauge or so, and comes in roles of 100 feet or more. Strip off the jacket and you have 8 different colored wires. The insulation strips easily. <br><br>Its the perfect wire, and cheap to.<br><br>redrok
Just so you'll be jealous to the end of time I'll put up a picture of what the ultimate breadboarding wire looks like :)
I like that wire, too. First electrical projects, I worked were connecting phone jacks. :)
very nice it helped me a ton! thanks <br>
thanks 4 d tutorial,
But what are the screw terminals for? I think they look cool and all, but does anybody use those for anything?
i guess these screw terminals are for fixed power cord to avoid short circuit. :-)
They make for easy power supply connection. That way you can just pull a couple plugs and work on the unpowered bread board.
That's kinda what I thought, but I've never seen anyone use them, and I've never found a use for them. I guess it depends on your set up. My power supply is still a &quot;universal&quot; wall wart with some solid core soldered on the ends! <br><br>Maybe someday I'll be sophisticated enough to use the terminals. :-)
Last year I built an Elenco XP-720 Power Supply kit for breadboarding and other electronics projects. It's nice to have the fixed 5V and dual adjustable +/- 1-15V for op-amps and other projects that use multiple voltages. It has all binding post outputs so I just run cables with banana plugs to get power to breadboard. Works great. The power supply is a nice inexpensive kit to build as well.
They make it easier to get +/- V and ground into the board. A 4mm plug fits in the top or you can screw a multicore cable in from the side.
Awww yeah. Now I can use my prototyped breadboard to create the LED traffic light! No longer will I be constrained by my ignorance! (Except, probably, I will. Just not around breadboards.)
very good tutorial about using a bread board. I too had taken electronics in my 1970s high schooling, but have never used it. Now maybe I can LOL. Thanks.
This is fabulous. I've been wanting to play with LED kits but have been at a loss with tutorials that seem to require previous experience or am unfamiliar with the jargon. I completely understand your tutorial. Very clear. I'm excited to pick up my breadboard and materials and give this a try.<br><br>Thank you. I hope you plan to do more.
thanks, glad to hear it! I will be doing more.
You apply Ohms Law to the LED. IMHO you should apply it to the resistor. In other words: the forward voltage should be (5-2.2) = 2.8 V, resulting in R = 112 Ohms.
oops, you're right, thanks, fixing it now
this is an easy mistake to make- another good reason to use a current limiting resistor that is a bit higher than what your components are max rated for :)
This is put together very well. I like the information provided with the 7 segment display. I would agree in that it would be nice to mention that the rails down either side are often split rather than continuos. I guess if you are a beginner the pictures make up for it when you show having to use a jumper wire to connect the side rails together. I can tell you spent a lot of time making this look great. It's in the details and I like that you have added a Fritzing Diagram. I myself am looking to be using it in a near build of mine, like the possibilities fritzing can offer.
Nice tutorial! Thought I think that the diagram in step 1 might confuse a lot of people. You don't show the whole board, nor do you talk about how the rails down either side are often split into two parts rather than being continuous, the source of many rookie mistakes.<br><br>Fritzing has a nice breadboard picture which would be easy to make an excellent diagram with if you felt like making that step clearer.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a grad student at the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT Media Lab. Before that I worked at Instructables, writing code for ... More »
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