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 all share a few common characteristics.
Each breadboard has a number of holes across its surface. These holes can securely hold a variety of electronic components such as wires, resistors, and LED's by holding them in place with conductive 'spring clips'.
Each breadboard connects specific holes together so that current can flow and the user can control which components are connected by choosing which hole the components are plugged 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 most breadboards the buses are 5 holes wide. 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. Unless otherwise noted, all the holes in a rail are connected together, so they are often used for commonly-needed inputs/outputs, such as power and ground. Keep in mind that besides their length, they function exactly the same as the standard 5-hole buses. The Parallax BOE shield integrated breadboard does not have these power rails.
When using a breadboard, there are some standard practices that should be followed:
1. You should generally use red wires for power connections, black wires for ground connections, and yellow or white wires for signal connections. There is no functional difference between the three wires, however using the red-black-white combination helps keep things organized and is a common standard in electronics.
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 are easily bent and if not monitored, the leads can be accidentally snapped off. Be careful not to crush them and be cautious when laying the robot upside-down.