Stripboard

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Stripboard and spot face cutter.

Stripboard (sometimes called veroboard) is useful for prototyping. The circuit layout is based on a grid making it straightforward to design for. The abundance of connection points make it easy to alter after assembly.

How it works

Stripboard Arduino clone layout.

Stripboard has strips of copper on the underside and is drilled with holes 0.1 inch apart. The components are mounted on the top plain side of the hoard, passing the leads and pins of the components through the holes. These are then soldered to the copper strips on the underside of the board. Wire links connect copper strips or the strips are cut to make separate connections.[1][2]

Warnings

Components for an Arduino clone, note the stripboard tracks are already cut.

SRBP (FR2) with many perforations can be brittle and break under pressure. The copper strips are generally untinned and can tarnish making them difficult to solder. With repeated soldering the strips will delaminate from the board. When breaking copper strips it is easy to leave some fine strand of copper still making a connection. Adjacent strips have high capacitance which can result in unwanted coupling. It is susceptible to noise due to insufficient ground connections.[3]

Planning the layout

Assembled stripboard Arduino clone. Wire link colors indicate +5V and ground.

Before prototyping the circuit check the schematic by building it on a solderless breadboard. Then plan the layout of the stripboard on squared ruled paper. Use the the horizontal lines to indicate the copper strips, the intersections of the lines the holes. Try to run the wire links at at right angles to the strips. Make the layout clearer by inking in the conductors used. Draw a dot at connections and an x (in a different colour) where strips are cut, e.g. between IC pins. Allow for the size of the components and where their leads enter the board by counting off the number of holes on the stripboard. For example a 1/4 W resistor needs at least four holes when horizontal and two if mounted vertically. Power connectors, pin headers, solder pins and terminal posts providing off-board connections and test points can be indicated with small circles. This will help ascertain the size of board required. Also allow for mounting the board into its enclosure.[1]

Hints

For good performance keep signal strips as short as possible, to reduce the radiation and pickup. Keep input and output strips away from each other, separate if necessary with a ground strip. For ground connect many strips together to approximate a ground plane.[3]

Construction

Cut the board to size using a craft knife/Stanley knife/box cutter and a steel ruler. Make several cuts each side of the board and simply snap when the cuts are deep enough, or use a junior hacksaw. Lightly file the edges and corners to remove any sharpness. Cut the strips with a pin vice and 3 or 4 mm drill bit, a craft knife or ideally a spot face cutter. Just enough to cut through the copper, don't drill through the board or you'll only weaken it. Use a magnifying glass to visually inspect the cuts for residual connections, or check the discontinuity with a multimeter. Try not to touch the copper with bare fingers. If it's tarnished it won't solder easily. Use fine emery paper to clean the oxide off.[1]

First solder the link wires. Strip and solder one end, measure and cut the wire to length, strip the other end, bend and insert it in the other hole and solder, trim both ends. Then fit any terminal pins and sockets, these will help with orientation when fitting the rest of the components. For sockets first solder two diagonal pins then check the socket is fitting flush to the board before soldering the rest of the pins. Solder the rest of the components, starting with the lowest or smallest and working up in size, lastly insert the ICs into their sockets. As you go along double check component values, that polarised components are correctly oriented and that links and leads go to the appropriate copper strips. Finally do a visual check for badly cut strips, poor solder connections and short-circuits between adjacent strips. Use solder braid to remove solder. Consider using terminal pins or solder posts to provide off-board connections and test points, these are less fragile than hookup wire soldered directly to the board. Test points make testing simpler. Update your layout if you make changes.[1]

This order of assembly is best for most projects. If a circuit has several sub-circuits it may be better to build and test each before connecting them together.[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Electronics: A First Course by Owen Bishop, Routledge, 3rd ed., 2010, ISBN 1856176959
  2. ^ Starting Electronics Construction: Techniques, Equipment and Projects by Keith Brindley, Newnes, 2005, ISBN 9780750667364, p. 81
  3. ^ a b Second Year Electronic Laboratory Electronics Construction Guidelines by Tom Clarke, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Imperial College, 2005

External links

Stripboard design applications

  • BlackBoard, free, open source, multi-platform
  • DIY Layout Creator, free, open source, multi-platform
  • Fritzing, free, open source, multi-platform
  • LochMaster, commercial, proprietary, Windows
  • Soft Circuit Editor, free, proprietary, Windows and Linux
  • Stripes, free, open source, multi-platform, unmaintained
  • VeeCAD, free and commercial versions, Windows and Wine/WinOnX/CrossOver, unmaintained
  • VeroDes, free, Windows, unmaintained