What is a Breadboard?
A Breadboard, or Solderless prototyping board, is a construction base generally used for prototyping electronic circuits. It allows you to temporarily connect electronic components together quickly and easily, without the need for permanent soldered connections.
Breadboards come in many shapes and sizes, however they share a few common characteristics.
Fisrtly, they have a number of holes across their surface. These holes can securely hold a variety of electronic components such as wires, resistors, and LED's, to name a few, by holding them in place with 'spring clips'.
Each breadboard connects its holes together so that current can flow and the user can control which components are connected, and which are not, by choosing which hole to plug each component into. Breadboards all connect their holes in 'buses' according to certain standards - this should be the same no matter what type of breadboard you are using. The holes are connected as seen in the diagram:
On all breadboards, there are grids of holes, generally with 5 rows. There are connected in columns of 5 across the board. Many breadboards will have one or more central channels over which connections do not cross.
On some breadboards, there are external 'terminals' or 'power rails' which you can see running vertically in the image. All the holes in these are connected together, so they are often used for commonly-needed inputs/outputs, such as power and ground. Keep in mind, they function exactly the same as the standard 5-long connections, they are just longer. The Parallax BOE shield integrated breadboard does not have these power rails.
When using a breadboard, there are some habits to keep that will be helpful:
1. You should generally use red wires for power connection, black wires for ground connection, and yellow or white wires for signal connection. There is no functional difference however it helps with organization.
2. You should use jumper wires to connect the Arduino to the breadboard, and single-core wire for wiring within the breadboard. When using the BOE shield, however, jumper wires are not necessary as the pins needed are closely linked to the breadboard.
3. Jumper wires have a habit of getting bent. Be sure not to crush them and be wary when turning the robot upside-down.