Wire as you think

I was used to build my prototypes on strip-boards, burning my fingers, loosing my nerves and making many wiring mistakes because of the mirroring effect. And then came the illumination ! As I was visiting the R&D plant of my former division in Palo-Alto I observed engineers using breadboards to design yet pretty sophisticated devices. It did not take long before I drove to Fry’s and bought a couple of 3M branded mid-sized breadboards. Since them, I enriched my collection of breadboards with larger and smaller ones in order to fit the scale of my projects.

I very quickly developed some sort of standardization for the wire straps and later for dedicated components. At this time I used single core copper wires which were perfect for the job. My sourcing was pairs of telephone wire. The draw backs of this abundant source of wires was the lack of colors and the oxidizing of the bare copper wires. In the long term, oxide creates contact problem and leads to erratic signals.

A better option consists in getting plated copper wires in various insulating material colors. The optimal wire gauge is 0.6 mm, which translates to 22/23 AWG. This size of wire fits the bread boards as well as the headers (such as Arduino headers).

I cut these wires in standardized lengths: 1/2 inch, 1 inch and 1 1/2 inches.

These lengths are very convenient for most applications. Anyway, save some wire for specific needs. From my experience, multiple core wires are better for longer wire lengths.

And now is the time for something special. Instead of wiring passive components with bare terminals, which I find suicidal for any type of wiring…

I standardized sets of very commonly used components as shown below

The return on (time) investment is massive: wire gauges will always fit your prototyping tools, no risk of short circuits or loose contacts, and restricted risks of improper biasing. For achieving this last objective, I use black wires on the negative sides of polarized components. For diodes, I normalized the fact the tip of the diode is the cathode.

Ultimately, this sort of standardization helps a lot in tidying things up a lot as shown from the next picture. You may start with the most used series such as 1, 1.5, 2.2, 3.3, 4.7 in the x10, x100, x1k, x100k  ranges for resistors and capacitors and widen the range of values as you need them.

Well, this is it ! Once all things in place, it takes minutes to safely and quickly wire most schematics; again, and again, and again…


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