Introduction: Zero Real Estate Bypass Capacitor for Prototype Circuit
This is a simple method for bypassing the power and ground leads of an IC or MCU which has the following advantages:
- Capacitor lead length is as short as possible.
- The capacitor takes up zero board space.
Here's how to do it:
Step 1: Bend the Capacitor Leads to Fit
Using needle nose pliers or other suitable tool, bend the bypass capacitor leads as shown. Be sure that the bends are made carefully, and at right angles, so that they do not accidentally contact other chip pins.
The exact shape and position of the bends made will be determined by the location of the power and ground pins of the IC.
In this example, the power pin is pin 8 and the ground pin is pin 4 (the typical diagonal arrangement).
Most ceramic type bypass capacitors are not polarized, but if you happen to use a polarized capacitor, be sure the positive and negative leads go to the proper pins.
Step 2: Check the Fit
Try to insert the capacitor into the proto-board. Be sure that the capacitor goes into the correct holes (Vdd and GND), that you don't have it backwards (wrong side of the board) and that the leads do not touch any other IC pins or board traces.
Also be sure that the capacitor fits "nicely" (that is, drops right in without any lead bending or forcing required).
If the capacitor does not fit properly, carefully adjust the bent leads and try again.
Try to avoid bending the leads too much, as this may cause the leads to work harden and crack (or worse, be on the verge of cracking and then fail after the prototype board is finished).
Step 3: Fully Insert the Capacitor
When you are satisfied that the capacitor fits properly, goes into the proper pins and doesn't short anything out, fully insert it, then bend the leads over on the reverse side to hold the capacitor in place and cut off the excess. Do NOT solder the leads yet! The IC socket still needs to be inserted! Again, be sure nothing is touching or shorted.
Step 4: Install the IC Socket
Now, carefully insert the IC socket. If your proto-board has very small holes, you will need to be very careful not to bend or damage the IC socket pins that share holes with the bypass capacitor. Slowly wiggling or rocking the IC socket while gently pressing down will help the pins go into the holes.
Solder the two "capacitor pins" first and check that the socket is aligned squarely and seated completely on the board before soldering the rest.
You may notice that the capacitor leads tend to prevent the socket from fully seating flat on the proto-board. This will not cause any problems, but if it bothers you, simply apply light pressure to the IC socket while soldering the pins that share the capacitor leads. The soldering heat will flow through the capacitor leads and allow the socket to locally melt and "flow over" the capacitor leads.
This is perfectly OK, since the IC socket is much thicker than the diameter of the capacitor leads and there is no danger of the leads "melting in" too far and causing a short circuit.
Have fun, and happy making!
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