A Solderless Printed Circuit Board




About: Have 30+ years of experiences as a Mixed Signal IC Design Engineer.

Suppose there is a fast and easy way to hook up a circuit which is a bit more like a printed circuit board but can be done without solder.

The latest and greatest method involves printing out a schematic and gluing to cardboard. Then hot glue all components in place. Then wire wrap up the circuit. See the next picture. The following project uses this method.


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Step 1:

 The tools needed are a manual wire wrap tool, some wire wrap wire, the circuit components, and a print out of the component side and solder side of a PCB layout. The two sides to the PCB layout get glued to an index card such that the holes all line up. This idea is not new.

Step 2:

 A regular PCB layout could do the job. The artwork for this layout was imported from an Open Source PCB application.  Adding some extra documentation can make things easier. This artwork can be found here

Step 3:

 The two sides of the print out are carefully aligned and glued to two sides on an index card. Punch holes on the component side and insert components.

Step 4:

 If the alignment is correct, the leads of the components will come out of the holes on the solder side.

Step 5:

 The manual wire wrap tool has an insulation stripper which can double as a lead length measure. When  wire is inserted till it just about comes how the other end, it will be stripped to the optimum length.

Step 6:

 The bare wire gets inserted into the groove of the manual wire wrap tool.

Step 7:

 Place the hole of the manual wire wrap tool over a component lead on the solder side and twist until all the bare wire is wrapped around the lead. 

Step 8:

 If the stripped wire is at the optimum length, several good contact wraps can be made on every component lead. 

Step 9:

 With a little skill, wire wrap can be counted on to make a lot of good connections within some pretty tight quarters. Documenting component values and where wires connections go also make it easier to hook everything up without making a mistake. 

Step 10:

Wire wire is not as good as soldering, but it comes close. It is certainly better than using a solderless breadboard. For one thing, the circuit does not have to be broken down every time a new circuit needs to be built up. 

Step 11:

 This circuit was designed to work off of a laptop. Having a circuit work without any debugging is always nice. 

Step 12:

With just wire wrap, the circuit is semi-permanent. This particular circuit might get use to encourage adding a little solder to all connections. As it stands right now, all wires can be removed, and all components can be reused. It may be best to avoid trimming component leads in favor of looping them. Loops make good scope connections.



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    42 Discussions


    3 years ago


    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    I find using a wire wrap tool helps to hold the wires in place until they are soldered. Now days I am inclined to use a less pretty method using hot glue as is shown in my other instructable at the following address. https://www.instructables.com/id/Arduino-BiCMOS-Curve-Tracer/ The components are all installed in dead bug fashion. It is not as pretty. But for me, it is much faster and easier. I use the hand wire wrap tools.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Wire wrap has been around since the 70s.

    The best way to use it is to get a piece of Veroboard (Google it), it is board with long gridded lines of holes in it, and to place the components through the gridded pattern of holes and wrap. Using the paper 'map' helps to locate the components but offers no real stability.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    This is really more of a breadboard method in which you may want to use the circuit more than once. A much faster/ easier/ better method can be found here.


    The new method involves hot gluing your components (dead bug style) to a printout of your schematic. Glue the printout first to cardboard is recommended. Wire wrap up all the leads. After everything works, tinning all the wire wrap with solder does not seem to be much of a problem if you only do one side at a time.


    9 years ago on Step 12

    That's an incredible idea. I don't have a problem with soldering, but using cardboard in place of PCBs is incredible. Thanks a lot.

    11 replies
    HVaheadKante Tech

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 12

    i tenth that...i had this idea to use cardboard instead of pcb but instead of using wire i simply made lines of solder, if i had to cross these "wires" i put paper tape over them and continued drawing the lines.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    When one tries to solder more than two wires to the same node, it often helps if there is some way to mechanically hold the wires in place. Wire wrap appears to do this pretty well. And the circuit can be fired up and fully tested before tinning all the nodes with solder.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 12

     I am looking into gluing the two paper printouts onto plastic from a recycled milk carton for the next revision. For applications that require a potentiometer, there is a need for the printed circuit board to be able to take a lot of use. But one has to try things out to see what works...

    Great for protoing, not so good for a project like I'm working on with hundreds of wires (including a nice, small TQFP 64 uC).

    @Asuraku couldn't you just dip a PCB in resin/hot glue and achieve the same results?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     I am not a big fan of using the solderless plugin breadboard. Using a soldering iron at least insures a good connection. Wire wrap maybe comes the closest to using a soldering iron. But ending up with something that looks more like a PCB than a rat's nest sometimes is worth the effort. For digital circuits, a PCB can be done and debugged without doing a lot of surgery to the wire traces and board. It all depends on what takes the least effort to get something to cleanly work.