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Pebble: PICAXE Electronic Bread Board Layout Emulator

Imagine being able to produce a professional quality diagram such as the one shown above to show how a circuit was laid out on a breadboard. You can - and the software to do it is FREE! And despite the name, it's not limited to PICAXE circuits, it's universal!

Original "Virtual Breadboard" software: Ray Wilson
PEBBLE development and article author: Wayne Geary
Additional material: Stan Swan and Ross Tester

We shouldn’t have to tell you how incredibly versatile breadboards (also known as “Protoboards” are when it comes to designing, developing and troubleshooting electronics circuits.

Click for larger image
Going way back, this is a valve "crystal set" radio receiver. Many, many millions of radio and electronics enthusiasts have "cut their teeth" bread-boarding circuits just like this one or more recently, with diode-based crystal sets!

We often use them here at SILICON CHIP when developing projects for the magazine and we encourage readers of all levels to use these quite cheap and widely-available aids.

But what if your design doesn’t quite work as intended and you start looking for help – perhaps on-line.

You’re going to need to transfer the design onto paper, or at least into a format that someone else can easily read and hopefully trouble-shoot.

Or perhaps it does work exactly as you’d hoped and you want to share your brilliant design with the world (maybe even get it published in SILICON CHIP?) It’s essential that a clear, lucid representation is presented, not only to avoid errors but to make it nice and simple for anyone else (magazine editors included!) to understand.

Professionals are one thing but newcomers hesitantly following circuits “paint by number” style may especially benefit from lucid layouts.

Typically these will be students learning about practical electronics (often under tight syllabus and time constraints), when very clear circuit layouts may be appreciated as a confidence booster.

In spite of today’s ease of digital imaging, pictorial requests may however meet with some reluctance, perhaps due to the untidy nature of hook-up wiring. Well – let’s face it – often it IS messy!

Even some old hands are wary about posting public photos of their new super duper layout, as they feel the wiring may be scorned.

At least one’s soldering will not be criticised with solder-less breadboards! Although long established for versatile and rapid prototyping, these breadboards still take time to populate, with associated wire stripping and neat component layouts requiring a focused mind and steady hand.

When wrangling components under pressure, perhaps as a stressed teacher organising course work or a student meeting project deadlines, confusing “rat’s nest” layouts may result.

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