MakerFaire 2015: Breadboard Wall

Welcome back to the Digilent Blog!

 

As you know, our MakerSpace was at the 2015 Bay Area Maker Faire. As part of their  booth, we brought a couple of main show pieces, including the LED Snake game and a breadboard wall. One of the top questions we received — and what you may be wondering yourself –was, “What is a breadboard wall”?

People trying out some circuits on our Breadboard Wall at Bay Area MakerFaire 2015
People trying out some circuits on our breadboard wall at Bay Area Maker Faire 2015.

 

A breadboard wall is a place where people can try out building a circuit for the first time; the materials, the breadboard, and the help are all right there for a painless and rewarding experience. With 360 individual breadboards (arranged in a 12×30 grid), there was a lot of space available for people to try out one of the prepackaged projects that we had prepared for MakerFaire: a button controlled LED, a NOT gate where you pushed the button to turn off the LED, and an astable oscillator where the LED blinked on and off by itself without any computer or human intervention.

 

Brandon putting the breadboard wall together.
Brandon putting the breadboard wall together.

 

But how did this breadboard wall come to be? One of our members, Brandon Marcum, who is now off for more training for the military, spent close to an entire day (along with Sam Logan) carefully cutting the breadboards out from a larger, discontinued PCB in order to gather all of the breadboards we intended to use. Once he regained enough of his sanity, he spent another several hours carefully gluing down the individual breadboards onto 1×2 strips of plywood…until we found out that it was way too easy to accidentally snap off the breadboards from the plywood. Luckily, he was only a third of the way done when we found that out, so he was able to change it all to mounting tape instead with minimal stress. Brandon also designed several different analog projects that people could try out at Maker Faire, including the three projects that we ended up using.

The empty breadboard wall.
The empty breadboard wall.

 

Truth be told, I was impressed with how much success we saw with the breadboard wall. Without all of the circuits on there, the wall itself looks…boring. But once we got a few example circuits on the board and a big smiley face, quite a number of people started flocking to our breadboard wall. As I expected, not everybody had a lot of experience working with breadboards, but there were a ton of people from six years old to “not-quite-so-young” that were just thrilled to successfully set up a small circuit where you pressed a button to turn on a LED. It’s that level of excitement and engagement that we want to foster in our own MakerSpace.

Putting a circuit together on the Breadboard Wall.
Putting a circuit together on the breadboard wall.
A close up of the Breadboard wall
A close up of the breadboard wall.
Another close up of the Breadboard wall
Another close up of the breadboard wall.

 

We hope you like our breadboard wall! Thank you for checking out all of the cool projects we worked on for Maker Faire.

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About James Colvin

The biggest thing that I enjoy is learning new things. Especially things involving some type of technology; computer components, fun gadgets, games, coding techniques, etc. I love spending time with my wife and our two sons and hanging out with our friends. During my normal work day, I manage the Digilent Forum and the North American Support team.

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