Breadboard Wire Tree




About: Just a mild mannered programmer by day and a wannabe evil mad genius by night.

Well I have to thank for this idea:

As you can see in my previous instructables, my workspace was covered by my breadboard wires. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with them until I saw method of using some plastic jars.

Although I didn't want that small of a jar lid and I have many more jumper wires. So........................

Step 1: Lids I Used..

The lids above are about 4 to 4.5 inches wide. The jars/jugs I got these from originally had short pretzel sticks in them and the size on the label is 40 oz.

I use these jars/jugs for storing quite a number of items since they are a fairly large container, especially for small parts. They also have a large enough mouth that can fit my hand in and pull out the items I need without my hand getting caught.

As the picture above shows one lid (on the right) has some slots in it already, the lid on the left has pencil markings where I want to put the slots on that one and the lid in the background has yet to be marked or cut/sliced.

Step 2: Custom Hot Knife

Making the hot knife was way easier then I expected, but I did have to go through my wire collection before I found the correct solid piece of bare copper wire to use as the blade. The width of the bare solid copper wire is about a millimeter wider then the jumper wires.

I took of the soldering tip from the heating element, the soldering iron I have is from radio shack but it's from the 80's and they don't sell this model or the accessories for it. At least not that I have been 100% certain of what I think they have will work.

I wrapped the one end of the copper wire around the tip end of the heating element a couple of turns, more turns maybe better. Then made sure the other end of the wire pointing parallel and extending beyond the heating element.

I then used a small hose clamp to secure the wire tightly to the heating element. I had tried using a pair of pliers to tightly fit the wire onto the threads at first but after heating up the wire did unravel, slowly, but it did unravel.

When pushing the blade I made sure the soldering iron heating element was pushing the wire. If you pull the wire it will bend. I did slide the blade up and down in a sewing needle fashion like on a sewing machine, but be careful not to allow the solder iron heating element to hit the lid or it does make a nasty notch in the lid.

Step 3: Slicing and Drilling

I used one lid to test a couple of ways to do this process and learned:

1. make some guide lines

2. First drill the starting holes

3. do not use sandpaper or a sharp cold knife to knock down the flash that gets produced. This created a lot of scratches on the lid

4. have your solder tip cleaner handy to wipe the melted plastic from the wire blade. A clean blade is a better blade, even for this.

5. have a fan ready to pull or blow the fumes away from your face.

After slicing one lid up as a test, I was happy with the 5 slots I had, kinda wished they could have been a bit longer, I thought about curving them or even zig-zagging them but in the end I just went with the straight lines. Using the first one as my template, I marked the starting holes on the next lid, drilled those holes and used that set of holes as a template on the 3rd lid. The 2nd lid had better spacing and positioning of the starting holes and lines.

After having the wire slots ready and finished (for my taste anyway), I moved on to drilling the mounting holes. I mounted these lids to a piece of 1 inch pvc pipe that I added to my electronic bench tool rack also made out of pvc pipe.

I used a 1 1/4 inch blade bit to drill the holes in the lids. Careful secure the lid well and take your time. I did use a 12VDC battery drill and kept the trigger in the slow position. don't want the lid to get torn now.

That 1 1/4 inch blade is not quite big enough to allow a 1 inch pvc pipe to slip through the hole, by a few millimeters. (Yes I do like using millimeters for the small measurements). So I used a drum sander bit in the same 12VDC cordless drill to make the hole a bit wider, testing the pvc pipe every few minutes. I was looking for a very very tight fit.

Step 4: PVC Mount

So I already have a PVC pipe tool rack mounted on my bench. I was thinking of going up one more rung to mount these lids and having that rung also come forward towards me using some 22 degree elbows to bring the rung closer. And just screwing the lids to the top of the rung. I would need to trim the part of the sides of the lids as well. But after doing some test placement of where the lids would be I would have had to reach through the wires to get to the pliers. Yes I could have rearranged the rungs, but I decided to add a vertical mount for the lids instead. We'll see what/if I get around to using the 22 degree rung idea, maybe.

So I did my test fitting of the vertical pipe placement, complete with the 2 tee and 2 90 degree elbow sections at the top and bottom of the vertical pipe.

The top placement was easy. Getting the section to remove near the bottom mounting took a little marking. The tees that I used are standard plumbing tees and do not allow the pvc pipe to go all the way through. I also did not want to glue this together so it has to fit and not be easily swayed by gravity. So with a pair of PVC pipe cutters, I cut a section 1 1/4 inches of the main pvc pipe support that is screwed to the bench at the correct height based on the pipe being already connected at the top of the rack. Also the vertical support on the other side of the rack also needs to still sit on the bench like it did to begin with.

Once I had this section cut out I test fit the new vertical pvc mount and made sure the rest of the tool rack was still in good shape. Using one 1 lid I positioned it next to the vertical mount about where I wanted each lid to be and placed a few wires in it so I had some idea how much room I would need between each lid without interfering with the other lids as I would pull/place a wire from/in the lids. I marked on the letter side of the pvc pipe where each lid would go. After wards I simply took the top tee and elbow off to remove the vertical straight piece.

I tired using a miter box and a hack saw blade to cut some 45 degree slots in the pipe, but the hack saw blade cut into the miter box so I stopped that. I then grabbed my keyhole saw and cut a perpendicular cut to the length of the pipe and started with a few cuts straight into the pipe. Then changed the angle to about 45 degrees (without the help of the miter box this time, the keyhole saw is too wide for my miter box).

After just a few minutes the slot was made and I then did the other 2 slots in the pipe the same way. Mounted the lids on the pipe until thy are in the slots and then remounted the pipe back in to it's place on the tool rack. Added the wires and done. Desk no longer has those wires on my bench.



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    6 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Nice one. But I think you can shave the lines on the lid with a cutter for a smoother lines :)
    I also loves your PVC rack and PVC tools organizer. They look cool in your photos ;)

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    and thanks for the compliments on the PVC tool rack, it's just standard 1 inch pipe. Getting the notch in the bottom rung for the solder sucker was quite the trick. but the other holes are either simple drill holes, slot holes (wire cutters), or notches (pliers).


    Reply 3 years ago

    I did try using a cold knife, sandpaper and a small file. It just seemed to make the sides wider and rougher. The last lid I actually used the hot knife I used to make the slots to rub on the side of the slots, made them smoother but as soon as I tried to get rid of the flash it was just going bad, so I just left it the way it is. But it does help keep the wires from slipping out easliy.


    3 years ago

    Great idea! I need this too!


    3 years ago

    COOL MAN! I soooooo need something like this. Thanks!


    3 years ago

    Excellent idea.