Making a LEGO Breadboard

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About: Hi! I'm Isaac Santos. I'm a 13 year old maker and entrepreneur who can't keep my hands still. I aspire to show all other young people out there that you can be a great maker, no matter how old you are.

We already have many different kinds of breadboards! Why make another one? I have multiple reasons:

- It's a great way to teach anyone how a breadboard works and the basics of prototyping circuits without showing them a boring diagram.

- It's fun.

- LEGO. Breadboard. 'Nuff said.

If you haven't figured out from the title already, this is an instructable that will guide you through building your own single bus breadboard out of LEGO and other simple parts. It's taken characteristics from simple ways of building electronics, like paper circuits and breadboarding, and mashes them up with LEGO to make this. At the time of making, I had all of the parts lying around my house required to make this project. Hopefully you do, too, so you can build one right now!

Supplies:

You'll need:
- A roll of

tape
- Electronic components with 2 leads (LEDs, diodes, resistors, capacitors)
- Alligator clips
- Copper tape, 5mm
LEGO pieces:
- Each LEGO component is made from one 2x4 brick.
- LEGO jumpers need two 1x1 cylinder pieces apiece.
- The "breadboard" is made out of three 16x16 LEGO plates. You could make a larger breadboard by using a larger base.

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Step 1: Make the Breadboard Base

The breadboard consists of the three LEGO plates. Put them together like so to make the base of your project.

Step 2: Drilling Holes (LEGO Edition)

Get a 2x4. Where do you drill? That first picture has green studs plugged into the 2x4. No, don't put green studs into your 2x4. Those are there to show you where to drill. If you're still confused, images 2 and 3 should clear up things quickly. You understand? Good! On to the next step...

Step 3: Making a LEGO Component

Take the drilled 2x4 and one of the electronic components, which in this case is an LED. Bend the leads of the component and fit them into the holes of the 2x4. Bend the leads up and over the edges of the brick. (At this point, it may be handy to mark your polarity. For me, I put a bit of copper tape on the positive end of the brick). Feel free to make as many components as you want!

Step 4: Jumper Wires

To make LEGO compatible jumpers, cut out a one inch strip of copper tape and cut it in half lengthwise. Then, thread it through one of the cylinders like so and fold the copper tape around so that it makes contact. Now, clip the copper tape onto the cylinders, and you have a jumper wire! Make a few of these. You'll need more or less of these depending on the circuits you're making.

Step 5: Breadboard Part 2

Get the copper tape and the breadboard base. Cut out strips of copper about the length of a little less than 7 studs, and cut them in half to make smaller strips, which you should now stick onto the breadboard as illustrated. Make sure you have the middle divider down the center of the board. When you're done sticking those all the way down the breadboard, cut out those large strips to make the power rails, and it should end up looking like the last image if you got it right. This step is for the breadboard size that I made. If you have a different size/style breadboard, just adapt the steps to your own liking.

Step 6: Battery

Attach the alligator clips to the positive and negative ends of the board, and make sure they're making contact with the copper tape. To attach the power source (I'm using a coin cell), you have a couple options for holding the battery. In the spirit of DIY, you can tape some conductor to the negative and positive ends of the battery and then use alligator clips to hold it, but I found I got better results with just using a holder.

Step 7: Building a Circuit

Here are the steps for building simple circuits with this breadboard:

1 - Place the component bricks. Make sure they go across the center of the board, as that's where you can get the most accurate connections.

2 - Make connections. Place the jumpers on the board to build the circuit. If you have matching cylinders on each jumper, that's awesome, because that means that you can place the cylinders first and then clip your alligator clips on easily!

3 - Let 'er rip! Connect the battery to the board. If you did everything right, it should work!

Step 8: Troubleshooting

Problems will pop up, the main one being that the circuit doesn't work. For that, I have a few suggestions:

- Are the wires making contact with the copper tape? As you see in the first picture, the alligator clip and the copper tape on the cylinder should touch AND make contact with the copper tape strip you want it to connect to.

- Is the battery/component's polarity right? Make sure that everything is put in the right way. Marking the bricks should help.

- Are the components making contact? Make sure that the leads are touching the copper tape.

Step 9: Done!

You've finished! Have fun! You can mess around with this, teach people basic electronics and then advance to the classic breadboard with this, build a house that lights up with this, and more! If you want to make this, I like and encourage tweaking. I still haven't figured out how to incorporate other pieces into this project, like potentiometers, buttons, and 555 timer ICs, how to put brick components elsewhere than the center of the board, and if someone found out these, that would be nice to see!

Thanks for taking the time to read the whole instructable (I hope)!

Comments and votes in the multi-discipline contest are very much appreciated :D

See you next time!

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    4 Discussions

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    Gadisha

    7 days ago

    Nice :)
    I thought of Making something resembling snap circuits using lego's, but never really worked out the idea any further, cool to see somebody else did!
    Lego's appeal to kids so this is a fun way to teach them about electronics and people can make this themselves at relatively low costs.

    2 replies
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    BrownDogGadgetsGadisha

    Reply 6 days ago

    You should both check out the open source Crazy Circuits line. It's literally Snap Circuits on LEGO, using custom PCBs and nylon conductive tape. We even did a write up on how to design your own components to get made up.

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    zakbobdopGadisha

    Reply 7 days ago

    I actually built this planning to make lego snap circuits :D

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    BrownDogGadgets

    6 days ago

    You should try using some of our nylon based Maker Tape. We literally designed it to fit on top of and between LEGO studs for our LEGO based circuitry kits. If you'd like we can send you a roll of it to try out. It would be a lot easier to work with in your project that copper foil... especially if you ever want to get things back up again. Message us and we'll send you some.