The PCB Ruler Test Bed


I’ll admit that I didn’t quite “get” the PCB Ruler at first. Sure it provided a convenient place to connect Pmods, but the PCB design means any other connections would have to be soldered anyway, right? How exactly are we expected to use it?

Digilent PCB Ruler

As I worked with it, however, I began to realize how it could be used as a much more versatile test bed for Pmods. Let me explain.

You know you want to take this out for a spin.

There have been plenty of projects already that use the PCB ruler. I was not contesting it’s use in a complete product. I was more interested in how to take full advantage of the ruler’s cleverly designed Pmod connections, which allow you to connect Pmods without soldering. I wanted to use the ruler as a modular test bed, that would allow me to try out Pmods, without needing to solder connections, but also without needing a full breadboard.

My idea came when I was looking to make a simple project using the ruler. We were shooting some video, and needed something quick, that wasn’t complicated or expensive. I felt that the ruler’s built-in touch-pad style buttons would work well with the Pmod LED. To test it out, I plugged the LED in, wired a quick connection to a button, connected the ruler to a power source, and voila, I had a simple functioning circuit!

PCB Ruler LED Test

This got me thinking. If I expanded the circuit a little, and added some female headers, I could turn the ruler into the general test bed that I’d always wanted it to be! Finally everything clicked into place!

PCB Ruler Better Test


After about half an hour’s work, I was finished! A quick test showed that the ruler had exactly the functionality I needed, plus some additional features I was looking forward to using! Paired with my bread-boarded DP32, I now have a simple set of tools to let me quickly prototype and test a wide range of circuits!

PCB Ruler and DP32

But that’s not why the PCB Ruler works so well. My modification might be exactly what I need, and many of you may even decide to make one for yourself, but that’s just one of many ways you can use the PCB Ruler! It’s a great base for convenient, but ultimately open-ended features. How each feature fits in to your projects however, that will be entirely up to you.

In addition to that, it’s also a very nice ruler!

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