Introduction: Proto Board Mounting Adapter
The first photo shows an MB-102, 830 point Prototype PCB Solderless Breadboard. These are common and cheap (check Ebay). There are both smaller and larger sizes. If desired, they can be easily connected together to make larger prototyping areas. Rather than having screw holes for mounting from the top, they have holes for attaching from the bottom although they generally come with an adhesive backing so you can "stick" the board wherever you want. Mounting in any way is desirable to minimize the possibility of loose wires.
I've stuck these boards to plastic and wood panels for prototyping electronic designs. My problem is that it seems like wherever I stick it, I later want to use it somewhere else. But, the adhesive backing is not very reusable. Since these boards are cheap, one could always just use another new one. But, I've found a way to reuse them without the adhesive strip. The second photo shows a 3D printed adapter I designed to hold the board and facilitate attachment of the board/adapter assembly to something else, like a wood panel.
I've included the Fusion 360 design file and the resultant STL file. You can just print the STL file as-is or modify the Fusion 360 file for different size proto boards or to accommodate your specific 3d printer. If you don't have a 3D printer, you can just make end "clips" from wood or metal that would hold down the MB-102s without using the adhesive pad or removing the paper backing to expose the adhesive strip.
Step 1: Prepare the MB-102 for the Adapter
As the first photo shows, you will need to remove the MB-102 adhesive backing. Previously, "un-stuck", boards will also have a protective sheet of material (paper). Slowly and carefully peel back the adhesive strip and paper to reveal the metal contacts underneath. Peel at a very "shallow" angle to prevent removal of the contacts from the plastic base.
When this is done, the bottom of the board will look like the second photo. Using your fingers, press down on all contacts to ensure they are seated. Should a contact pull up or out, I've found that you can re-insert if you are careful. The contacts will break if flexed too much. If broken, you may be able to bridge the break with solder.
Step 2: 3D Print the Adapter
The first photo shows an adapter after printing but still on the printer build platform. Since I'm using two of the MB-102's in my test bed, one might ask why I didn't just design the adapter to hold 2 boards. The answers are:
- I wanted 2 separate development areas.
- Larger 3D prints tend to have "corner warping" during printing.
- Larger prints are harder to remove from the print build platform without damaging the build table surface.
- It's easy enough to join 2 boards and 2 adapters (or more), if desired, as the second photo shows.
Recognizing that 3D printing has a number of variables, like the slicer, the printer, the filament used, and a hundred million other variables, you may have to "tweak" my design for a good print. Here's what I used:
- Slicer - Simplify3D
- Printer - Lulzbot TAZ 5
- Filament - ABS
- Infill - 20%
- Support - None, if you print with the adapter as oriented per the first photo.
- Print time - A little over 3 hours
- Filament used - About 3.5 meters
The adapter mounting holes are sized for a #8 screw.
Attached are the Fusion 360 design file and the STL file.
Step 3: Test Bed Setup
This photo shows 2 protoboard adapters ready for attachment to a strip of 3/4 inch plywood. The protoboard on the right contains an Arduino NANO. Between the 2 MB-102s is an Arduino UNO which will not install in a protoboard.
My intention is to use the rest of the plywood strip (not shown) for mounting other electronics parts such as displays, keypads, servos, pots, etc. I'll try to make some type of 3D mounting adapters for these parts so that they also are constrained.