Five Cheap Breadboard Prototyping Tips and Tricks

With all the new MSP430 projects running around, here are a few breadboard tips to get you get going quicker with less frustration and more ease. These hacks have been collected by scouring the web. Do you have any that you wish to share? Tip us here.

1. Inline LEDs

This tip is from the RobotRoom. This comes in handy when you are testing your circuit output pins. One LED inline with a resistor connected to a two pin female header is all you need, to attach it to a breadboard. You can also extend this tip to using Bicolor LEDs, to test direction control in H-Bridges.

2. Power Supply Connector Paper Clip Hack

Not for the faint hearted, you say. This is for one of those quickie moments when you need an extra supply line for your circuits. As long as you  are careful about not shorting your positive and negative terminals, you’re good. All you need is a paper clip, preferably a jumbo one and you can hook all the wires you want to it. This is only for bench top supplies that have short circuit protection in them. MachineGrid explains this in detail.

3. Breadboard Pin Label Reference

Always referring back to your microcontroller’s datasheet to make sure you got the pins right and you are not reverse biasing the power. This simple tip will surely save you some time and a smoke scare. You do need a printer for this. Todbot has one for the Arduino. Hopefully someone comes up with one for the 14 pin MSP430 series.

4. Staples [] as Breadboard Jumpers

No jump wires? No worries, use staples! No more stripping or cutting your wires to extreme short lengths. Use this tip to get your breadboard layout neater. Thanks to [J]immy from Instructables.

5. Coin Cell Powah

This is one wicked instructable hack. Want to know how your low power MSP430 project runs with a 3.0V coin cell ? It involves just two double row male headers which fit a CR1212 battery nice and snug. Good thinking [P]cairic.

Have a prototyping tip that has made your life easier or is just too cool? Share it with us in the comments and we’ll publish it in the next round of “Prototyping Hacks.” If not, leave a comment, makes us feel all warm and good!


  1. Absolutely love #4 and #5. Good list!

    • Lovely. Added to “Prototyping Hacks” List #2

  2. I really like the staples as breadboard jumpers. I made some jumper cables a while ago, but i don´t have small ones and this is really handy. I used some staples to make the connector that the launchpad has for the eZ430-F2013 target board, i’ll see if i can upload some pictures some where.

  3. 1, 4 and 5 are awesome.

  4. Great site, and FUN ! Thank you ! I hope you will add more to it. I found you by googling breadboard cutting. I guessed it is very feasable but I wanted to be sure ! I’ll let you know if I finf a new trick !

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Let us know of any new tricks, we’ll be glad to feature it.

  5. When I was in a pinch, I used the twist tie from a loaf of bread for a jumper for one of my labs. It worked fine, I just got weird looks from my professor…

    • That’s a neat trick. This will go into the next list. Thanks!

    • Thanks Nate. Queued your tip up for the next list of tricks.

      • To turn a water clear (narrow beam) LED into a diffused LED, rub it on a piece of sandpaper.

        To focus the beam of an LED, cover the sides with heat shrink or an opaque straw. The longer the straw, the more focused the beam.

  6. Cool stuff! Thanks! Keep it updated!

  7. I cut down Cat5 cables to get breadboard jumpers. 10 cm long piece of cat cable gives you 8, different colors of 10 cm long jumpers

  8. Great ideas. The staples are wonderful.

    I’ve recently started to put masking tape on my breadboards:

    You can label the tape, and it covers up all the unused tie points (good for clarity). It also makes it easier to exchange parts, because it’s obvious what holes you’re using.

    Another handy trick shown in that photo is, I insert component leads into insulation from a wire to avoid shorts.

    • That’s a nice way to label circuits too. Queued your tip up for the next list of tricks. Thanks for your submission.

  9. Thanks for the great idea #4. I am using paperclips for thicker contacts!



  1. 5 improvised prototyping methods « adafruit industries blog - [...] Five Cheap Breadboard Prototyping Tips and Tricks via Dangerous Prototypes. With all the new MSP430 projects running around, here …
  2. Five expedient breadboard prototyping tricks - machine quotidienne - [...] for labeling the backs of the ICs with their pinouts, these are all new to me. I especially like …

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