Aug 24, 2018|General
No matter the type of electronic device you have, chances are it will need a board to control the majority of its functions. When it comes to building the board, it’s critical that the designer knows what type of board is most suitable for the electronic project.
There are two main types of boards to build: a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) or a Breadboard. One is suited for more general projects, while the other is best used for custom and specific projects. Each have their benefits and downfalls over the other, making it difficult to decide which is most suitable for you.
Let’s take a look at valuable information to determine which board you need.
What is a Prototype Circuit Board?
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a Prototype Circuit Board?
- 2 What is a Breadboard?
- 3 Why Do They Call it a Breadboard?
- 4 How Does a Breadboard Work?
- 5 Breadboard vs PCB
- 6 The Advantages and Disadvantages of Breadboard
- 7 Types of Breadboard
- 8 The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Printed Circuit Board
- 9 Types of PCB
- 10 Should You Use a PCB vs a Breadboard?
A prototype is what you develop to test out a design before creating the permanent circuit board. The prototype allows you to see what changes need to be made without having to rebuild an entire PCB over again. Once you have completed a prototype, you will use that to build the PCB.
A PCB is the small green board covered in grooves and connections found in almost any electronic device available. A PCB manufacturer takes your design and turns it into a functioning board to run electronics. The PCB will be your finished product.
What is a Breadboard?
A breadboard is a type of prototyping that requires no soldering connections. This will make them less permanent compared to a PCB. Breadboards have sockets that you push the components into, allowing you to remove and change them if needed. A breadboard will be more for designing, experimenting and testing circuit connections before making it permanent.
Why Do They Call it a Breadboard?
The term breadboard goes back many years, to the start of circuit boards themselves. Manufacturers would mount sockets to a piece of wood – quite often the same type of wood you would cut bread on. The story behind the name says that the engineer could only find the breadboard for his prototype.
How Does a Breadboard Work?
Since you can remove and change components on a breadboard, you would make a breadboard before developing the permanent PCB. You would draw out the schematics and connect the wires accordingly.
The centre of the board is the prototyping area that consists of two rows of five holes. A channel runs between the two rows in which you would place a chip with pins on either side to stop them from connecting together. You’ll also find power busses (either one or two) on the side of the breadboard for running power and grounding.
Breadboards are designed for integrated circuits (ICs). You would place an IC chip over the channel, which will allow you access to the pins on either side of the existing chip. Then, you connect a resistor to the power bus into the channel, while taking an LED from the channel to the ground bus to establish the complete circuit.
Breadboard vs PCB
A breadboard is commonly used as the first step before developing a PCB. With a breadboard, you can change and move circuits that are otherwise permanent on a PCB.
- Are easier and quicker to assemble since there are no permanent solder connections.
- You can change the connections to test out different scenarios.
- You can also change different components like the capacitor or resistor value.
- They are limited by its current carrying capacity due to the connections.
- Can reuse to make different circuits.
Printed Circuit Board
- The board is permanent to run an electronic device.
- Better current carrying capacity compared to a breadboard. Traces can be wider for more current to run through.
- Terminals can be added to your PCB for external connections.
- You can make a PCB rigid.
- A PCB has a cleaner look than a breadboard (when manufactured correctly).
- More commonly found in electronic devices.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Breadboard
Breadboards are readily available and inexpensive for your average PCB design. There are many different breadboard types on the market, including solderless and self-adhesive models. There are advantages and disadvantages to using breadboards, which we’ve outlined below.
Advantages Of Using A Breadboard:
- Easy and quick to check for complex circuits
- Easily verified circuits in the initial stage
- Saves time
- Simple to adjust
- Improved flexibility and no drilling holes
- No soldering required
- Simple to debug
- Solderless connections make it reusable
- Cheap, easy to change connections
- Easy component checks
Disadvantages Of Using A Breadboard:
- It can be unreliable
- It’s difficult to replicate versus other circuit boards
- It’s a temporary solution
- It’s heavier than other circuit boards
- Breadboards can be noisier than other boards
- Difficult to troubleshoot because of human error
- Poor connection problems
- Not feasible for high current applications
- Cannot withstand voltages above 48 V
- Poorly setup for high-speed design
- Difficult to modify complex components for prototyping
- Takes up more physical space
Types of Breadboard
The history of breadboards is fascinating. Essentially, there are two major types of breadboards: solder and solderless. Solder boards have components you need to solder—these are your standard circuit boards, and when you flip the board over you’ll see the connections are soldered to the board. Solderless breadboards are designed to easily add or remove components as needed, which improves trial and error. Both types of breadboards can come in different sizes and have a variety of important applications.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Printed Circuit Board
Printed Circuit Boards or PCBs are a vital component of modern electronic equipment. PCBs consist of both active and passive components that are connected from side to side and throughout the board. By using small-sized electronic components, PCBs can be used in a variety of electronic devices and are a mainstay of thousands of industries. Still, they have their advantages and disadvantages, which we’ve outlined below.
Advantages of PCB:
- PCBs have low cost and easy mass production
- They’re reworkable and widely available
- PCBs have excellent shelf life and low electronic noise
- They feature compact sizes
- Inspection time and error is reduced in PCBs
- Less time assembling than other circuit boards
- No chance of loose connections
- Less short circuiting errors
- Easy to replace failing components
- Uniformity in shared electrical characteristics
- Easier maintenance
- Component wiring and assembly are facility mechanized
- Better reliability and performance than other boards
Disadvantages of PCB:
- Can sometimes have uneven surfaces
- Can sometimes contain lead
- Thermal shock required for soldering
- Can be difficult to repair
- Cannot be updated once printed
- Etching process contains harmful chemicals
- Circuits can only be used for specific functions
- Limitations can make them difficult to modify
Types of PCB
There is a long and interesting history of PCBs. There are many different types of printed circuit boards (PCBs) that are used for many different things. These types of PCBs are made from different materials and include manufacturing specifications across a broad range of electronic applications. PCBs have continued to evolve over the last hundred years, which includes fabrication abilities, laminate materials, quality, performance, and precision. As technology requirements change, so too do circuit boards.
These are the simplest type of PCB to manufacture, with boards made of a single layer of conductive material. Single layer PCBs feature one side of a non-conductive substrate and are made from materials such as copper.
Double Layer PCB
These PCBs feature another conductive layer on top of their non-conductive substrate, as well as another conductive layer on the reverse side. These conductive sides are typically connected via plated holesin the substrate, by connected to pads on both sides of the circuit board.
Any circuit board with three or more conductive layers is considered a multi-layer PCB. These conductive layers sit at the top and bottom of the board, including a sandwiched layer between the non-conductive substrate. There are also advanced circuits that can fabricate boards up to 40 layers, but most multi-layer PCBs have lower counts between 4-8 boards.
High-Density Interconnect (HDI) PCB
By using precision-based manufacturing tech, PCBs can pack functionality into smaller spaces. These boards feature many conductive layers that are laser-drilled, with fine lines and tolerances made up of advanced laminate materials. HDI PCBs are extremely useful because they can accommodate exact and complex routing with high pin count chips and miniaturized tech. These PCBs are used in a variety of technologies that require very small boards to operate.
High-frequency PCBs feature different designs that can facilitate signals over a gigahertz. They’re used in a variety of applications, but high-frequency PCBs require the use of controlled impedance and advanced laminate materials. Their fast signal flow means they can handle a frequency range of up to 100 GHz.
Should You Use a PCB vs a Breadboard?
There is a time when you would use a breadboard over a PCB, and the other way around. Depending on what you are making and the stage you are at, that will help you decide when to use either a breadboard or a PCB.
When to Use a Breadboard?
You would use a breadboard mostly for experimenting with connections and circuits. Because the board is not permanent, it allows you to move circuits around without damaging the board. However, because it is not a permanent board, the current capacity is minimal and is best used as a pre-step before developing the actual PCB.
When to Use a PCB?
You would use a PCB for the actual electronic device. After you test out the breadboard and find the design best suited for your project, you would then develop that into a PCB. The PCB is a permanent device in electronics because of the soldering required. You would use a PCB to run your electronic project.