Author Topic: 3M breadboards for cheap  (Read 7754 times)

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Online tooki

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3M breadboards for cheap
« on: June 17, 2017, 07:48:16 am »
So there's a fairly wide consensus on here that 3M breadboards are among the very best, perhaps the best, on the market, discussed in e.g.
http://www.eevblog.com/forum/chat/quality-breadboards-on-ebay/
http://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/what-is-so-great-about-3m-breadboards/
http://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/quality-breadboards/


Anyway, 2 years ago I bought a single 3M breadboard from a local distributor. The actual item that arrived says "AP PRODUCTS MENTOR, OH" on it. (As do some items on the third page linked above.)

A bit of googling seems to indicate that while that company still exists (and lays claim to being the inventor of the modern breadboard), it doesn't look like they're still making breadboards, nor have any locations in Ohio. A bit of further googling, however, ends up with an Ohio company called Assembly Specialist, whose products include breadboards.

This page contains this nugget:
Quote
Bread Boards
Popular for protoype building and home hobbies. We offer 7 different size boards, all specifications can be found on our website. These are high quality boards originally produced by AP Products in the 70's and 80's and now owned and proudly produced in the U.S.A.by Assembly Specialist.

And indeed those breadboards look suspiciously identical to the 3M/AP ones -- all the way down to product names ("Super Strip" and "Circuit Strip") and part numbers (e.g. my breadboard, which is a 3M Circuit Strip, part number 923253, vs Assembly Specialist CS253), and errors in the data sheets (that item is erroneously described by both 3M and Assembly Specialist as having 620 tie points in 2x48 rows + buses, but it's actually 610 points on 2x47 rows + buses).

So I'd be willing to bet that Assembly Specialist is still the actual OEM making these things for 3M.

And they sell direct.

And they're incredibly cheap.

For example, the 3M 923253 is about $27 on Digi-Key, while the CS253 is under $9 direct from Assembly Specialist.

For the gold-plated version, the 3M 923749 is a $121 special-order item from Digi-Key, while the equivalent CS749 direct from Assembly Specialist is $40:o

I'm thinking I may order some from them to see. Figured you all would appreciate knowing about this, too.

FYI, they charge $11 shipping in USA, but their Paypal seems to not be set up for international, as it wanted to charge me no shipping at all to Switzerland, which can't possibly be right.


For reference, here are the product pages:

All 3M breadboard products
Assembly Specialists breadboards on baseplates
Assembly Specialists bare breadboards
 
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Online rdl

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2017, 08:50:22 am »
I think you've made quite a discovery here. These look to be the real deal and the prices are fantastic. My favorite, the #318 is only 1/3 the cost of the same 3M board from Mouser or Digi-Key.
 

Offline ZeTeX

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2017, 09:09:55 am »
They also have the exact jumper links that 3M sells on their site, the same thing but with different logo.
but 3M jumper links cost about 47$ in digikey, while it cost 15$ on assemblyspecialist.com.
http://www.assemblyspecialist.com/WebStore/jumberWires.html

excellent find! now, everybody who want a suggestion for top quality breadboard, I will suggest them this.

 

Online tooki

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2017, 09:13:50 am »
Hey look, I just stumbled (by pure chance!) on hard evidence that it's the correct company (such that we have an uninterrupted corporate chain of custody, so to speak). Look at the test clips on page 12 (PDF page 14) of the Nov 1986 Radio-Electronics. There's 3M and AP Products, clearly associated in a 3M ad. Was 3M just rebadging stuff? Or did they own them as subsidiaries or something, I wonder?

Assembly Specialist still makes those things, too.

In any case, in non-grocery retail (other than computers and similar complex finished goods), it's standard for the wholesale cost of an item to be no more than 40% of the retail price. This is right along what we are seeing here -- looks like Assembly Specialist is just selling them at wholesale. (Of course, when there's a middleman, you've got them buying at an even larger discount, so Assembly is surely charging more than 3M pays.)
 

Online tooki

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2017, 09:15:14 am »
I guess I should place an order for myself before all of eevblog inundates them with orders, hahahaha! :D (It can't be a large company, if their website tells you to contact Mike Such-and-such with questions!)
 

Offline Cerebus

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2017, 09:20:58 am »
I think you've made quite a discovery here.

Indeed. Now to see if there's a cost effective way to get them in, or delivered to, anywhere other than the USA.
Anybody got a syringe I can use to squeeze the magic smoke back into this?
 

Offline CJay

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2017, 06:03:08 pm »

Indeed. Now to see if there's a cost effective way to get them in, or delivered to, anywhere other than the USA.
Well if a group buy would make it cheaper by sharing the transit costs then count me in, I've got a load of breadboards already but they look a cut above.
M0UAW
 

Online tooki

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2017, 02:35:57 am »

Indeed. Now to see if there's a cost effective way to get them in, or delivered to, anywhere other than the USA.
Well if a group buy would make it cheaper by sharing the transit costs then count me in, I've got a load of breadboards already but they look a cut above.
If only I were in an EU country I'd offer to do that, since I'm going to USA in less than a week. But then you'd all be stuck with customs fees, not to mention the relatively high postage from Switzerland.

If any of my fellow members in Switzerland want one of the boards without the metal baseplate (sorry, weight concerns!), I'd be happy to bring you some, as I will be ordering some for myself.

As for what these boards are like, my experience with having one: mixed blessing in a way. Compared to the cheap Chinese ones, the contact resistance is beautifully low, they don't loosen up with use so components and leads don't fall out. So the circuits built on it is far less likely to act up due to a poor connection or component popping out.

The reason for this, but also consequence of it, is that the insertion force is much, much higher than in cheap breadboards. It's practically mandatory to cut the legs on good-quality resistors on the bias to produce a sharp point; a blunt straight cut won't enter easily. Even so, it's usually better to use tweezers or small pliers to insert component leads with. By hand, you end up with resistors bent like spaghetti. Similarly, forget about forcing in massively oversize leads as you can in a cheap breadboard, they just won't go in. (A cheap breadboard's terminal strip will be permanently damaged by this, so it's not a good idea anyway, but it can be done in a pinch.) For such components, regardless of breadboard type, I highly recommend moving them off-board using sacrificial M-F DuPont jumpers, or male DuPont to minigrabber/alligator/IC clip leads. For power transistors and MOSFETs, using flat-jaw pliers to twist the legs 90 degrees is essential, they will not go in otherwise (this trick is helpful for cheap breadboards, too, as it avoids loosening their cheap contacts).

The high insertion force also means that you really should mount the bare breadboards on a baseplate, or hold them down on a bench when inserting components (no holding the breadboard in your hand!), because otherwise, you can actually press out the terminal bars, which are only held in place by double-sided foam (as on cheap breadboards, too).
 

Online tooki

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2017, 05:57:36 pm »
I'm gonna give them a call later today to ask about shipping to Europe. If there's anything you want me to ask while I'm at it, lemme know.
 

Offline Ash

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2017, 08:52:18 pm »
So I attempted to place an order using their shipping cart last night, and I just got a notification that they refunded it and sent me a message saying they don't ship overseas..  :(

Looks like if we want to get these we are going to need a kind USA member to assist with shipping on some kind of group buy...

------
EDIT:

I've started a conversation with Mike at AP as he did offer to ship using my courier account.. He has confirmed to me that they white label to 3M so these are the real deal!

He also said that they don't keep everything in stock, but the lead time would be around 2 weeks.


I don't want to step on anyone's toes here, but I would be happy to help with a group order. However Australia is not the best place to redistribute from, but I've previously shipped products I've manufactured all over the world.

Anyone interested?

Ash.


« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 10:03:03 pm by Ash »
 
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Offline ElektroQuark

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2017, 12:14:57 am »
I really like those boards. The jumpers are first class too. I wouldn't mind to buy a bunch of them.

Offline cdev

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2017, 12:29:39 am »
The original "3M" breadboards last forever too. I have one which I know I bought in the 1980s and its still going strong.
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline jwm_

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2017, 02:18:35 am »
Yup. definitely 3M boards, I know because they accidentally put the wrong label on one of mine.

 
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Offline rsjsouza

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2017, 03:29:43 am »
Good find, tooki! Bookmarked.
Vbe - vídeo blog eletrônico http://videos.vbeletronico.com

Oh, the "whys" of the datasheets... The information is there not to be an axiomatic truth, but instead each speck of data must be slowly inhaled while carefully performing a deep search inside oneself to find the true metaphysical sense...
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2017, 11:29:28 am »
The original "3M" breadboards last forever too. I have one which I know I bought in the 1980s and its still going strong.
Same here.  :-+
 

Offline cdev

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2017, 11:33:51 am »
You know they are the real deal because at the beginning its almost impossible to force your wires in there.

Note: I meant appropriately sized wires.. Good breadboards don't really lose their grabbing capacity with use, and the stiffness always remains to some extent, but lessens with a bit of use.

In my experience they work better than I would tend to expect, knowing how they are constructed.

Good breadboards are a real success story in terms of helping make electronics experimentation easier and more user friendly.

« Last Edit: August 28, 2017, 04:02:46 am by cdev »
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline evb149

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2017, 12:06:08 pm »
What is the situation with what kinds and sizes of component leads can safely be used with these?

As I recall there's been a problem with some leads and some breadboards where "oversized" leads fit through the plastic apertures but the spring elasticity of the contacts isn't good enough so that the contact springs permanently deform after accepting such a large(r) lead and thereafter never make good contact with smaller sized leads.

Are these types of breadboards much better in this regard?  The previous comment about "they must be genuine because at first it is almost impossible to get a wire in there" leads me to believe that the contact elasticity isn't perhaps that great and that they do significantly permanently deform depending on what you insert into them.

I feel a it conflicted due to this.  I long ago mostly eliminated using through hole passives and semiconductors though I still use development kits / modules which typically have something like 0.64mm / 0.025inch length per side square pins which I've always thought were "too large" for breadboards which were designed to handle mainly small DIP IC pins and 1/4 Watt through hole resistor leads and similar significantly sizes, though maybe they've started making breadboards with 0.64mm per side pins in mind with respect to elastic contact compliance?

I'd like something as small as a 1/8W THD resistor lead or maybe a 26AWG wire or small flat DIP IC lead  to work in the breadboard but also up to 0.64mm side length square pins.

Are these optimum for the whole range?

 

Online Richard Crowley

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2017, 01:28:20 pm »
Has anyone torn bad and good breadboards apart to compare and measure in some quantifiable way just what makes one BB good and another bad?
Here are a couple of them. I believe there are more.....



 
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Online rdl

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2017, 02:25:55 pm »
One of those SYB-120 boards (same as in the first video) got me once when a circuit didn't work because the power rails were split with no indication. Then they got me again when I jumpered them across the middle and the circuit still didn't work. A number of boards I have, including 3M, have power rails that are split in half. That SYB was the first I've seen that was split in thirds.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 02:30:49 pm by rdl »
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #19 on: August 26, 2017, 02:53:01 pm »
What is the situation with what kinds and sizes of component leads can safely be used with these?
Max Size Ratings (per 3M)
  • DIPs of all sizes & .032"/20AWG diameter leads for discretes
  • 22AWG solid wire for interconnects

Here are a couple of them. I believe there are more.....
FWIW, the busses on 3M's full length Super Strips and 3/4 length Circuit Strips only connect for half the total length. So 25 connected points on the Super Strip & 20 on the 3/4 length versions. So links in the middle are necessary if you want them connected end-to-end.

Full & 3/4 distribution strips are connected end-to-end.
 
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Online tooki

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2017, 02:36:37 am »
FWIW, the busses on 3M's full length Super Strips and 3/4 length Circuit Strips only connect for half the total length. So 25 connected points on the Super Strip & 20 on the 3/4 length versions. So links in the middle are necessary if you want them connected end-to-end.
Not quite. That is correct for the full length ones: they are two halves. But the 3/4 length ones have a contiguous strip. (I just checked mine with a DMM.)

See http://www.assemblyspecialist.com/WebStore/TSandDS.html

You can see that the full-length ones expressly show that they are 8 half-busses. And that the 3/4 length ones have no such qualifier.
 

Online tooki

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2017, 03:57:15 am »
The better quality breadboards are modular and can be disassembled into their pieces.
Not all high-quality breadboards are like that. The 3M ones here come in versions with built-in (not snapped on) buses, and I don't think anyone would argue that 3M breadboards are anything but top quality.
 

Offline Nuno_pt

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2017, 04:01:46 am »
If they don't ship internationally, if someone in US is willing to make some buy for the ones that want and ship it to one address in EU, and from that address in EU the distribution will take place to the group, or other way is get a Shipito address, ship it there and the to EU.

They shure look cheap compare to the 3M ones.
Nuno
CT2IRY
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2017, 05:49:34 am »
Not quite. That is correct for the full length ones: they are two halves. But the 3/4 length ones have a contiguous strip. (I just checked mine with a DMM.)

See http://www.assemblyspecialist.com/WebStore/TSandDS.html

You can see that the full-length ones expressly show that they are 8 half-busses. And that the 3/4 length ones have no such qualifier.
You're right.   :-[

I mis-read 3M's Solderless Breadboard and Accessories document on page 5 (P/N's: 923253 & 923749), as I don't have any 3/4 strips to test.   :palm:

FWIW, mine is an older 3M model (ACE 127 with 3 binding posts instead of 4 & the metal plate is painted blue steel rather than gold anodized aluminum). It uses the gold plated versions of full length distribution strips & circuit strips (Super Strips).
 

Online tooki

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Re: 3M breadboards for cheap
« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2017, 09:39:27 am »
FWIW, mine is an older 3M model (ACE 127 with 3 binding posts instead of 4 & the metal plate is painted blue steel rather than gold anodized aluminum). It uses the gold plated versions of full length distribution strips & circuit strips (Super Strips).
Gold anodized aluminum?!? Modern 3M ones use red painted steel. See the pic in the post above: http://www.eevblog.com/forum/chat/3m-breadboards-for-cheap/msg1241680/#msg1241680

(The 3M catalog says they're steel.)
« Last Edit: August 28, 2017, 09:42:26 am by tooki »
 


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