Simple Hardware Prototyping

Eventually, while wandering down the crooked path of Single Board Computing or audio, you will probably want to make your own board or simply wire some things together.  While a seemingly simple task, you’ll soon find out some of your choices for hardware are not always so friendly.  What if you don’t know what configuration you want in the end?  What if you’re on a budget?  Well, take a chair.

First things first, never embark on this journey without a bread board.  If you have the budget, get a big one.  If you’re starting completely from scratch, take a look at this one.  If you can’t really spare much, I use one like this nearly daily for simple things.

Alright, next up.  The kits I linked above have some power supply options included, quite clever and I’m a fan.  I think I’ll build a similar thing, with a higher current rating and some thought involved (putting an amp through a single breadboard pin is… not the greatest idea, so probably 3).  Point-point wiring is part of breadboarding, so solid-core wire is a plus.  You can also grab a set of jumper wires with male and female ends.

Moving on, a lot of SBC’s from FriendlyELEC have USB headers on board, you can snag those as well on Amazon.  I use Amazon a lot, but these things can be had from all of the various large global online retailers.

A lot of these little things have either flimsy pins like the USB connectors, or wide terminals like some rotary encoders I purchased, or are not even “through-hole” devices at all.  For the standard pitch items I use Prototype PCB boards with header pins to provide some robustness against the prototype process, because no one wants to be constantly breaking things and buying new parts.  Examples of using these boards:

The rotary encoder has wide flat terminals that barely fit into the prototype board, and would not fit into the breadboard.

Notice the skinny boards are perfect for the USB connectors because the hole spacing aligns for the shroud tie-down and the board.

Shown in a breadboard, however obviously without any connecting wires.  A word of caution concerning USB I’ve given in other posts:  It is a differential signal, the D+/D- wires have to be the exact same length, or the signal gets destroyed by being out of phase.

As a last note, I almost forgot an extremely useful little gadget:  the surface mount to through-hole adapter.


And probably a soldering iron.

General Updates

General updates, I have not been active enough.

Firstly, the default 4.4 kernel for Tinker board now supports the Raspberry Pi 7″ display out of the box.

I have purchased a NanoPi Duo, a board I am interested in because I personally enjoy embedded applications, to the point where I prefer not to have the built-in connectors, it’s harder working around them than it is to add them later on.  I’ll have a review of that after bit.

Le Potato:  Armbian Next images (4.13) available, I am looking into using the mainline u-boot being worked on by Bay Libre (current Amlogic official U-boot is 2015.1)