Breadboarding with Micro-Packages—Ouch!

Breadboarding with Micro-Packages—Ouch!

  • Comments 10

Have you noticed?...it’s rare to find new generation op amps and other ICs in DIPs (dual-inline packages). Without volume demand, it’s not economically viable to offer new ICs in DIPs. Breadboarding with these newer fine-pitch micro-packages can be a pain. What to do?

This DIP adapter kit eases the pain. For ten bucks you can mount SO-8, SOT23 (3, 5, 6, or 8-lead) MSOP-8, SC70-6, SOT563-6 packages. We won’t make a dime on these adapters—we’re just trying to make it easier to design with these tiny packages. In fact, you are welcome to the CAD layouts to modify and/or fabricate yourself. You can optimize the assortment to concentrate on the package types you use most frequently. Yes, I know, it takes a steady hand to hand solder these ICs but you can do it. Then use them in breadboards like DIPs.

We have other breadboarding circuit boards you may find useful:

We all have our favorite breadboarding methods. I frequently use a white universal socket for quick checks of device behavior. These convenient boards are abhorred by many analog experts. They should be used with caution as they add capacitance between adjacent contact rows that can alter circuit performance. The key is awareness. Sensitive nodes can be air-wired while using the plug board for less sensitive portions of the circuit. Some high speed or sensitive circuits just don’t belong on these boards so use good judgment. High speed is not generally my territory so I get along pretty well with them.

The time-honored “parts ball” approach is functionally great—low capacitance and low leakage. A blob of air-wired components can be supported by a universal layout PCB used for some connections or a solid copper PBC for a ground plane and support. You’ve probably seen pictures of analog icon Bob Pease using this approach. It can be more difficult to make changes or repairs and it tends to be a solo gig. It’s difficult for a colleague to use, trace or modify. They can quickly grow into a fragile, three-dimensional mess that even the creator is challenged to decode.

With thoughtful design and circuit simulation, many of us proceed directly to a prototype circuit board design. If you are working with relatively familiar components and circuit techniques, the risk of major changes is probably low. Still, there are many times when hands-on experimentation and optimization are required. I made a sweep through our applications lab and collected a few potentially useful breadboarding and prototyping ideas. Check them out here.

It’s your turn… please send me pictures of your breadboarding techniques—your best (or your maybe your worst, just for fun). I’ll add them to this collection and we can all learn!

Tune in next week for a special holiday brain teaser. Comments welcome and thanks for reading,

Bruce       email:  thesignal@list.ti.com   (Email for pictures, ideas, direct communications.)

     Table of Contents for all The Signal blogs.

  • Bruce, thank you for this blog!

    This will be exceptionally helpful for Universities who are always looking for DIP Packages.

  • "The key is awareness"

    How true these words are. Unfortunately, most people ar enot aware. Especially in the digital world, everything is seen as black and white. High and Low. And people constantly forget that the signals they send are still analog. And digital interpretation may be different for e.g. circuitry and attached logic analyzer. Or sender and receiver. And measuring things changes what you measure, may it be a cheap scope probe on a crystal or a debugger on a realtime microcontroller.

    I constantle see posts about problems people wouldn't have if they were aware of the non-ideal reality.

    So these words are one of the most important things to remember, not only for analog circuitry but for any design. Or debugging.

  • Nice post Bruce!

  • Thank you Bruce. You just made me dust off my breadboard.

  • Thanks Bruce:

    For higher pin count devices (64+) like msp430's I use schmartboard. (schmartboard.com )

    Bob Pond

  • Great post! It highlights some very usefull techniques. Jens-Michael Gross you could not be more right!!!

  • Bruce - Thanks to you and TI for a great selection of adapters.  One additional breadboard technique.  I work in automotive where currents are often high.  I fasten a plug board to a real board (wood) and mount the high current parts to terminal block along with large heat sinks etc. to the wood and use the plug board for the small signal stuff.

    As for awareness you and Jens-Michael Gross are certainly correct.  However, given awareness, I find that analog circuits well into the MHz and digital circuits in the 10s of MHz will work correctly on plug boards.  So don't be afraid to try.

  • Great adaptor kit. One question though... your picture above shows it having tinned pads, but on the product order page they appear to be bare copper? Which is it? I'd order a bunch on the spot if they're tinned. Thanks!

  • The pads are indeed tinned, Andrew. I think the picture on the product page is getting a direct reflection from a "warm" incandescent light source.  --Bruce

  • Nice blog post, Bruce. I have used solderless breadboards for over 40 years.  TI has a nice series of LaunchPad MCU evaluation boards with pins on 0.1-inch centers along two sides. But the two rows don't have sufficient space between them to insert in two breadboards. Aaargh!  I solved that problem by cutting a breadboard in half (lengthwise), and plugging the LaunchPad pins into the separate pieces. This "technique" applies to other MCY evaluation and development boards, too.