False Starts: Previous BreadBro Designs

Designing BreadBro was a challenge. How can we make Open Hardware tools more accesible to educators without giving up capablities?

Our first attempts were focused on combining an Arduino and a breadboard in a modular system. These platforms would play the same role as common breadboard/Arduino "mounting trays", but with a twist - literally.

This platform, which we've taken to calling "BreadBro Mk. I", did exactly what it was supposed to - combine two tools in one - but it was still a bad design. It was big and clunky. A Reddit user summed it up well: "Why?'". When we couldn't answer that question without sounding like salesmen, we realized we needed to redesign.

Many iterations later, we came to the overall design you see in BreadBro today. A breadboard on top and a development board underneath. The first iteration of this design, BreadBro Mk. II, used a half-size, 400 point breadboard and a very bare-bones development board.

Another big development came during the assembly process for the Mk.II test units. Many Arduino enthusiasts are familiar with "Protoshields": An Arduino shield containing a quarter-sized breadboard with no power bus, and sometimes a perfboard underneath, a piezo, buttons, or other handy components.

We got to thinking - why a quarter sized breadboard? They're too small for some breakouts and doesn't have a power bus, making them useful only for the most rudimentary projects.

That's when we realized: standard-width breadboards with one power bus removed fit perfectly between an Arduino Uno's two rows of header pins. Really perfectly, with only a millimeter or two to spare.

Teaser_Shields and Breakouts.jpg

After that, the design for BreadBro Mk. III really started to come together.

In the next post, we'll talk a bit about the Mk.III design and assembly process.