Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


A breadboard is material or device used to build a prototype of a piece of electronics. It is a board (usually made from plastic) with lots of small holes. These holes are usually linked with conductive traces in rows. The rows are then linked by prodding the exposed end of a small piece of wire into the hole, and then into another hole at the other end.

The breadboard derives its name from an early form of point-to-point construction. In the early days of radio, amateurs would nail copper wire or terminal strips to a wooden board, and solder electronic components to them. Sometimes a paper electronic schematic was glued to the board to decide where the terminals should be put, and how to connect the components.

A modern breadboard usually has a groove down the middle, splitting the joined rows into two, allowing ICs to be placed on them.

Using these it is possible to prototype all sorts of electronic systems, from small circuits right up to whole processors.

Alternative methods to create prototypes are point-to-point construction and wire-wrap.

Prototyping with breadboards is too clumsy and unreliable for complicated systems such as modern computers.

Modern circuit designs are generally developed using a schematic capture and simulation system and tested in simulation before the first prototype circuits are built on a printed circuit board. Integrated circuit designs are a more extreme version of the same process: since producing prototype silicon is so expensive, software simulations before the production of a prototype are even more expensive.

However, breadboard prototyping techniques are still used for some specialised applications such as broadband RF circuits.