I am building a prototype board using the XBee Shield (link below), but there are no traces built into the prototyping area of the board. What is the best way to make connections between the various pins in a situation such as this?
Wires and solder? Not really sure what else you would be looking for in an answer…
I was hoping that there might be something cleaner than just loose wires.
Well, it depends on the complexity of your circuit… If you can route everything so that nothing crosses then you run bare wire down as lines to hold solder so that it looks similar to a PCB with really thick traces. See this…
You can also use wire wrap - pretty outdated technology now but it works… use sockets if you need more than one connection per pin so you have the vertical room for more than one wrap.
Soldering wires works too, although I’m a horrible solderer so I usually end up with a mess…
combo of soldering short wire wraps might work too - never tried myself because… I’m a horrible solderer.
personally - I find breadboards much easier for prototyping - maybe you can wire to some headers, then use cables over to a breadboard for the “real” circuits.
I did initially prototype the circuit on a breadboard, but I am wanting to move it to the board I mentioned to make it into a more permanent prototype. Breadboards are really big for a finished prototype device.
Don’t knock wire wrap until you’ve tried it. I saw some articles about how WR is more reliable than solder in high vibration conditions. I digress…
The nice thing with WR is that it makes a very neat connection and the wires are very thin so it doesn’t look too bad either. You can combine WR and solder by first wrapping unsoldered pins and then making the connection permanent with solder.
My favourite is still stripboard. I do a quick design in Eagle, mark the cuts, prep the board and then build. Still the fastest way for small boards.
These days I use a combination… I make modular boards with parallel pin layouts and plug those into a stripboard motherboard with sockets. I then break out header pins and use WR to hook things up. I’ll see if I can get a chance to blog it.
Stripboard works great unless you are working with an existing board like I am. I have the XBee shield which has an area for additional circuits.
xbee is also not perfboard, stripboard, or breadboard friendly since they’re on 2.00mm pin spacings, not 2.54mm.
For your use of the prototyping area on a shield, even the best of them have this challenge. In my recent exploration I found this, that shows how Limor does the same thing: http://ladyada.net/make/solarlogger/index.html
The moral of the story: do it how you like, just remember solder bridges are for where the circuit is meant to be joined, not where it’s not
The 2.00mm spacing is why I am using the XBee shield, it has the 2.00 to 2.54 adapter for the XBee and then standard 2.54 perf area for other stuff. I think I’ll end up on a combination of solder bridges for the pins that are next to each other and then soldered wire for longer runs - not enough pin length of wire wrapping.
Thanks for all the input.