Ordering a board with perfect spaced pads to use an SMD connector takes a few days of patience unless you live near a PCB prototyping facility. With striped prototyping boards, you can stick a MircoMaTch or similar connector into your breadboard in under five minutes. 😉
First cut a small piece from the prototype board. I use a paper knife, scratching groves using a ruler at the right locations and break the board using pliers.
It’s messy, but the board breaks more or less along the right locations.
Next we need to remove the middle section. The stripes must not be connected.
With the paper-knife, I first cut the stripes, then scape the copper from the board. It’s like cutting thin slices from smoked salmon (google instructions): You need a flexible knife, moving it flat under the copper layer. With four such cuts, the middle part is removed and copper free.
Now the tricky part: Because of the 0.1 inch spacing of the connector, you have to remove half of each stripe on each side. I use the hole as a starting point for two small cuts, then scraping the copper away. After this step, I use a loupe to check if all copper is removed and there are no shorts.
Before start soldering, clean all the copper dust from the mat and board.
Soldering is simple, carefully keep the holes near the connector open for the pin header.
Next, insert the pin header into a breadboard and put the prototype board with the connector on top.
After soldering the pins to the board, I check with a loupe if everything is connected, ideally with a line of solder.
I use a side cutter to remove any excess sections of the board to make the adapter as compact as possible.
Now I can connect the device to the breadboard with style, but you may ask:
Why using a connector instead of single wires for testing?
If you build larger projects using multiple small dedicated boards you have to connect them. Soldering ribbon cables into place make only sense if you never plan to ever disassemble or repair a device. Adding connectors to the boards makes repair and testing easy.
In an extreme case, you can start building every module of your device using breadboards and use the final connectors connecting them. Now, you can start replacing module by module with soldered prototype boards or manufactured boards.
Because you have the connectors and ribbon cables, you can easily interchange modules just by reconnecting them. It is an easy way to switch between e.g. the breadboard version of a module and the final version to see if they behave correctly.
I hope this article gave you some inspiration, and motivation to use more connectors in your projects. 😄
If you have any questions, missed information, or simply want to provide feedback, feel free to comment below or contact me on Twitter. 😄