Timber breadboards and serving boards with Arduino

Originally, according to Wikipedia and other articles I’ve read wooden kitchen breadboards were used for electronics, which is where the term started. I’ve started using them too. I had a couple of accidents where they magic smoke was released from a couple of Arduino boards when an Arduino module was bumped and moved over a screwdriver in one case and a piece of metal in another. That smoke can escape pretty quickly. I also got tired of connections coming loose when moving the project between sessions. I thought I would share some of my results as they may help someone.

I started by trying to make my own boards, but found I didn’t really have any suitable timber, but I may come back and look at options later.

I found our local Kmart had suitable items. The first is a beautiful acacia serving board. Originally it had a timber handle. I cut that off as it made it a bit long and awkward. It’s not the easiest timber to cut, but I do have some good tools for that and the results were ok. For this one I attached a 20×4 LCD display, battery holder, rotary encoder and joystick. I tried to include items that wouldn’t plug into the solderless breadboard, but adding all these may have been a mistake. I doubt I will use the joystick, but that’s ok. The dark timber looks great. What I hadn’t expected was how much more pleasing it made working on a project when everything is held together on such a beautiful piece of timber.

Acacia serving board with handle removed

Kmart no longer have the exact same board but they did get these Anko bamboo serving boards. They came in a pack of 3 boards for $6, so the price was right. They are not as beautiful as the first board and they are smaller, but they are made of bamboo which I presume is more environmentally friendly and their size and thickness make them ideal for smaller projects. I made up several with solderless breadboards attached. This one includes a 16×2 LCD display.

Smaller bamboo serving board

I like these LCD displays a lot so I included one on this board. I bought the I2C board and LCDs separately as I didn’t want them pre-soldered together. This allowed me to solder them together with greater distance between the LCD and backpack module. I could then carefully bend the pins so that the LCD sat at a useful angle and the I2 C board was easily accessible for adjusting the contrast and reading the pin connections.

LCD is held down with two screws. The plastic tube spacers are used to get the height at the front correct.

To mount modules to the board I’ve found a couple of different sized plastic tubing. It’s easy to cut to different lengths. There are probably lots of tools to cut it with but I usually use a pair of heavy duty wire strippers, not because it requires a lot of force, but as it has just the right sized cutter that makes it easy to do a neat cut. The tubing can squash a bit so if their lengths are not identical it doesn’t really matter.

Plastic tube and wire strippers

Overall, this has made tinkering much more enjoyable. I’m still looking out for improvements.

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