I hate haywire. I can’t stand jumpers and cables and cords strewn everywhere when I’m working on a project. Psycho-optically, I’m driven nuts by the rat’s nest that results from power and test leads when the project is in full swing.
I’m especially put out by stiff cables knocking the usually-small items I’m working on all over the bench. An Arduino, being small and pretty light, is nothing to a springy USB cable. Coax, even the relatively-thin type such as RG-8x, will be happier straight than bent, and it will likewise toss the thing I’m working on back and forth. Arrrggg!
My solution is to get as much anchored and tied down as I can and I’ve found what I’m calling a development base to be invaluable. Here you see an Arduino Uno with an Adafruit Proto Shield on which is mounted a small breadboard, an Adafruit breakout board for the Si5351 clock-generator chip, and a rotary encoder. It’s a project I’m working on for a simple antenna analyzer.
You also see a 2×16 LCD display, and both it and the Arduino assembly are mounted on standoffs. The white base is a piece of expanded PVC I had on hand, but it could just as well be anything of a suitable size and heftincluding a real breadboard. You’ll also notice I’ve affixed (with repositionable glue stick) a chart of pinouts for easy reference. Other important notes can be placed on the base as well, perhaps even with fine-tipped dry-erase markers or a grease pencil.
Instead of haywire jumpers, I’ve used ribbon cable to the display, and even the jumpers I do use on the Arduino assembly are routed, folded, zip-tied, or even loosely knotted to keep them in check. Neat and tidy.
There’s plenty of real estate left on the base to mount other boards or circuit components, perhaps with nothing more permanent than double-stick tape (not the semi-permanent foam type!), Bostik’s Blu-Tack®, or Elmer’s Poster Tack®.
I took the trouble to mount the Arduino and the LCD display with screwed-down standoffs since I’ll be using the same footprints for other development projects. They might even stay there more-or-less permanently, to be replaced by other ones in the finished projects.
The size of the development base is not important except that it be adequate. One other advantage to using a base of this sort is that it can be picked up and moved intact, to be replaced on the bench by another suddenly-more pressing project, or moved out of the way of dinner dishes if it’s on the kitchen table.