Introduction: More Pluggable Breadboard Components

About: is a website devoted to people who want to make their own things and provide for their own needs. We provide information, encouragement and resources to empower people to become free from th…
There was such a great response to my previous instructable on making pluggable LEDs, that I thought I would come up with some more ideas for making other components pluggable. For most of these components you will need male header pins two rows wide by 3 pins in a row, a.k.a 2x3 male header. Since some of these parts don't line up very well with the header pins, I found soldering them somewhat tricky. My best suggestions are:
  • Use helping hands, a.k.a  third hand to hold the component and the header.
  • Pre-tin both the header and the component leads.
  • Solder one pin first and then coerce the other pins into alignment.
  • Inspect each joint under light and magnification - reflow any suspect joints.
The results may not be pretty, but they should be reasonably secure. Here are details on each one:

Tact Switch
Before soldering, cut the center two pins on both top and bottom from the 2x3 header. You will then solder the four pins of the switch to the four remaining pins of the header.

Tact switches have two rows of pins. The pins facing each other on opposing sides are in electrical contact with one another. You want to solder these to the two header pins closest to each other. This results in the switched pins to be separated by the center section. The second photo will make this clear. When plugging into the breadboard, the wide part should straddle 3 columns of the board. The outer two columns will then be connected when the switch is pressed.

The layout of these parts is definitely confusing. If there is any doubt, just use the continuity checker on your multimeter to verify the proper operation.

Trim Pot
Before soldering, remove the three pins on the top of the header which do not connect to the trim pot. Leave all six pins on the bottom side for maximum stability in the breadboard. See the third photo for details.

Adjust the pins of your trim pot to match the header pins and solder. It might be a little tricky - just persevere.

SPDT Slide Switch
This one needs no instructions - just see the fourth photo. One change I would make is to use the 2x3 header used in the others for better stability in the breadboard. I would still solder just to the one row of pins, and use some hot glue (if necessary) to bond the rest of the switch to the other row.

DC Jack
This component has the most unusual header pin configuration. You will remove one pin from two opposite corners on the bottom side - leaving four pins. Next, remove the center two pins from the top side. Lastly, remove the side tab from the jack - it is not needed.

This one is the easiest of the the three to solder. Just align the two tabs with the four top-side pins and solder. The fifth photo shows the finished part. The positive terminal is on the far end of the jack and the negative in the middle of the jack. The reason for removing the two corner pins is so when plugging it into your breadboard's power bus, the positive makes contact with the lower (red) row and the negative with the upper (black) row. The middle two pins are not connected to anything and provide stability.

Even more...

You can even mount regular components to headers to make them more rugged or to identify the part or its pins. The sixth photo shows an NPN transistor with the pins clearly marked. I can never remember the pinouts on transistors, so this method saves a lot of time and leaves much less room for costly errors.

Another thing you can do is mount surface mount parts. The seventh photo shows an N-Channel MOSFET which only comes in a SOT-23 package. I left off the pin and part label for the photo, so the part could be clearly seen. This soldering feat was relatively easy. The trick is to first tin the center header pin, and the center (drain) pin of the FET. Then, place the header in the helping hands, grasp the FET firmly with tweezers and ever so steadily hold in position against the header pin while briefly touching it with the soldering iron. If it holds, proceed to repeat the tinning step for the other pins, this time also tinning some resistor leads (for wire) and use them to make the final two connections. First connect the wire (the resistor lead) to the FET's pin and then to the header pin. Lastly, inspect the joints under high magnification and touch up any that look suspect.

Putting it all together
In order to test my job soldering the FET, I built a simple FET tester based on this article. The test circuit used many of the components featured and is shown in the last photo.

Use your imagination to mount some of your own components. It takes just a few minutes and makes your breadboarding more enjoyable and productive.

Was this a useful electronics tip?  If so, please cast your vote for it in the Electronics Tips & Tricks Contest.
How to vote: The voting button can be found at the top of this instructable. You can also visit the contest page and vote for other instructables as well. Multiple votes can be cast in each contest. If you see a tip you like, please show your gratitude with a vote.
Electronics Tips and Tricks

Participated in the
Electronics Tips and Tricks