Author Topic: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance  (Read 26421 times)

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Offline EEVblog

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EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« on: January 15, 2014, 12:10:12 am »
What is the actual capacitance of typical breadboard contacts?
It's not in the datasheet, so Dave decides to measure it.
It is well know that breadboards are not suitable for high frequency work due to the stray capacitance between contacts, but how bad is it really?

 

Offline rolandpenplotter

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2014, 12:22:54 am »
First... to tell you that this is not the TV Tx teardown :'(

It is, however, another fine video from my mate Dave - thanks mate :)
 

Offline JoannaK

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2014, 12:59:28 am »
One thing that can also cause problems with these is the quality of the contacts. Some of those breadboards have quite weak mating points, so there are a lot of resistance variance.
 

Offline AlphZeta

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2014, 01:02:19 am »
The inductance of the traces/wires also cannot be ignored especially for higher frequencies. This is another reason why breadboards are only suited for simple circuits well under 1Mhz.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2014, 01:08:05 am »
Since the capacitance is lower than you expected does this mean that you would nominate higher practical frequency limit than 1Mhz?
I asked a similar question of W2AEW because he had done a video on prototyping construction techniques. He had a higher figure as his limit.
I think it would be a useful experiment to look into this a little deeper to try to see if it is really 4Mhz or even as high as 10Mhz or whatever.

It's one of those "it depends" things.
For say TTL level digital stuff you can probably get away with running 10MHz on a breadboard, and I've probably done that high myself in the past and gotten away with it. But something like a 1MHz switchmode controller probably would work very poorly or not at all on breadboard. Even 100KHz is going to cause trouble due to the loop inductances, capacitance, and general dickiness.
 

Offline Zucca

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2014, 01:18:37 am »
Dave you forgot to tell the max current you can use on a breadboard. You would have save 1000 of innocent young players from burning their brand new breadboard! I personally never go above 1A since there is no restore button after you melted it.

How about to see if the C change with the temperature/current on the contact?
And what if you install the breadboard on a metal plate or a plastic one?

Nice point anyway....
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Offline BytesGuy

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2014, 01:21:13 am »
Since the capacitance is lower than you expected does this mean that you would nominate higher practical frequency limit than 1Mhz?
I asked a similar question of W2AEW because he had done a video on prototyping construction techniques. He had a higher figure as his limit.
I think it would be a useful experiment to look into this a little deeper to try to see if it is really 4Mhz or even as high as 10Mhz or whatever.

It's one of those "it depends" things.
For say TTL level digital stuff you can probably get away with running 10MHz on a breadboard, and I've probably done that high myself in the past and gotten away with it. But something like a 1MHz switchmode controller probably would work very poorly or not at all on breadboard. Even 100KHz is going to cause trouble due to the loop inductances, capacitance, and general dickiness.

I've got a system that runs at 4MHz using TTL stuff on (several) breadboards and it works great, never had a problem :)
 

Offline Rufus

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2014, 01:52:57 am »
Since the capacitance is lower than you expected does this mean that you would nominate higher practical frequency limit than 1Mhz?

2.5pF at 1MHz is about 63k ohms. If you have a circuit where stray 63k impedances are a problem then 1MHz is too high. A lot of digital circuits wouldn't care about a stray 1k so 60MHz would be practical.
 

Offline adh

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2014, 01:57:17 am »
It's one of those "it depends" things.
For say TTL level digital stuff you can probably get away with running 10MHz on a breadboard, and I've probably done that high myself in the past and gotten away with it. But something like a 1MHz switchmode controller probably would work very poorly or not at all on breadboard. Even 100KHz is going to cause trouble due to the loop inductances, capacitance, and general dickiness.

In my experience, anything TTL that is readily available in DIL packages (say 74F/HCT/HC) is slow enough so stray capacitance of breadboard does not make much of a difference, you get effects of insufficient decoupling (which is not exactly trivial on breadboard) or even problems with correct probing much sooner than anything related to stray capacitance.

Probably fastest thing that I have ever built on breadboard was bunch of (relatively trivial) HC series logic running around 60MHz and it essentially worked, althought "general dickiness" was certainly present (with major causes being decoupling and slightly hackish clock oscillator).
 

Offline Odysseus

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2014, 02:23:15 am »
I'm curious to know the capacitance between a contact and the ground plane formed by the metal plate that the board and binding posts are mounted on.  I've noticed on many breadboards that one binding post is explicitly designed to make electrical contact with the plate.  The attached picture is the bottom of a 3M solder-less breadboard.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2014, 02:31:53 am »
How about to see if the C change with the temperature/current on the contact?

If your contact is heating up enough then I suspect that capacitance is the least of your worries!
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2014, 02:33:13 am »
I'm curious to know the capacitance between a contact and the ground plane formed by the metal plate that the board and binding posts are mounted on.  I've noticed on many breadboards that one binding post is explicitly designed to make electrical contact with the plate.  The attached picture is the bottom of a 3M solder-less breadboard.

That's a different ball game again. I don't have a metal one to test. Would depend entirely upon how it's stuck down to the plate and the insulating material used.
 

Offline rolandpenplotter

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2014, 02:50:48 am »
I took this photo a couple of months ago; I thought it would come in useful sometime:

 

Offline bktemp

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2014, 06:38:35 am »
In the video Dave said the capacity changes with frequency. Is this really true in the frequency range Dave was talking about (50Hz - 100kHz)? Or is it more the accuracy of the LCR meter that effects the value?
 

Offline cybermaus

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2014, 06:58:26 am »
So, does anyone know the function of the gutter/divider in the middle? They all have it, without fail.

the gutter width is set to DIP distance of course, but there is no reason to make a gutter for DIP IC. Some more unused contacts would be OK as well. And sometimes I wish I could span a 5mm (2x2.54 pitch) cap over the gutter witch is not possible.

The only reason I can think of a need for a gutter is if you have some component that has a dangly bit under the pins, but I have never seen such a device. Or more imaginative, to drain the magic goo that escapes together with the magic smoke.

So, anyknown knows why the gutter is there?
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 07:00:30 am by cybermaus »
 

Offline thmjpr

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2014, 07:11:56 am »
If you are looking for a worst case scenario and add everything up: signal and ground on both sides (2*2pF) + power rail (1pF) + across center gap (1pF). Mine has the metal backing plate as well, which is ~2pF. But it is not connected to the green terminal.

Perhaps this is what some people are referring to, as that is getting close to 10pF.

So, does anyone know the function of the gutter/divider in the middle? They all have it, without fail.
Easier to grab under the chip and remove it with your fingers.

For extra contacts, you could only add one row due to clearance required. Then your chip is offset from center and it would just look wrong :p
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 07:18:18 am by thmjpr »
 

Offline ion

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2014, 11:06:28 am »
And what if you install the breadboard on a metal plate or a plastic one?

I've got a breadboard mounted on a metal plate and I measured ~2.5pF between contacts at 100kHz.  So I guess the backing material doesn't have much of an effect.
 

Offline popamp

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2014, 11:46:52 am »
Nice video Dave!

I hear about the capacitance between leads on different packages (i.e. DIP vs SOIC etc.) - any chance of conducting a similar experiment on adjacent leads of different IC packages?
 

Offline ion

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2014, 11:47:56 am »
I'm curious to know the capacitance between a contact and the ground plane formed by the metal plate that the board and binding posts are mounted on.  I've noticed on many breadboards that one binding post is explicitly designed to make electrical contact with the plate.  The attached picture is the bottom of a 3M solder-less breadboard.

That's a different ball game again. I don't have a metal one to test. Would depend entirely upon how it's stuck down to the plate and the insulating material used.

I tested mine: 4 - 4.5pF between the metal backing plate and the contacts, ~ 18pF for the power rails.  There's around 1mm of foam between the contacts and the plate (and a layer of paint).
 

Offline KJDS

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2014, 12:01:09 pm »
In the video Dave said the capacity changes with frequency. Is this really true in the frequency range Dave was talking about (50Hz - 100kHz)? Or is it more the accuracy of the LCR meter that effects the value?

Probably a bit of both but mostly the meter. Some dielectrics do very funny things at very low frequencies.

So, does anyone know the function of the gutter/divider in the middle? They all have it, without fail.

...

So, anyknown knows why the gutter is there?

That's a plastic moulding issue, the same as you have with metal castings.

Keeping the thickness the same all the way through rather than having a thick section makes the moulding process work better, the plastic sets more evenly and prevents longer wait times before it can be removed from the mould and bending issues that would otherwise occur.

Offline nitro2k01

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2014, 01:01:29 pm »
So, does anyone know the function of the gutter/divider in the middle? They all have it, without fail.

...

So, anyknown knows why the gutter is there?

That's a plastic moulding issue, the same as you have with metal castings.

Keeping the thickness the same all the way through rather than having a thick section makes the moulding process work better, the plastic sets more evenly and prevents longer wait times before it can be removed from the mould and bending issues that would otherwise occur.
I can think of two other reasons that don't have anything to do with the molding.
1) To indicate visually that the two sides are not electrically connected. This should be obvious, but it's good to show it visually for first-timer users.
2) So you can insert a small screwdriver or other stick-like object to lever out the chip.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 01:03:08 pm by nitro2k01 »
Whoa! How the hell did Dave know that Bob is my uncle? Amazing!
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2014, 03:47:15 pm »
So, does anyone know the function of the gutter/divider in the middle? They all have it, without fail.

Cooling and making sure a hot IC doesn't burn the plastic instantly.
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Offline w2aew

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2014, 07:00:33 pm »
Since the capacitance is lower than you expected does this mean that you would nominate higher practical frequency limit than 1Mhz?
I asked a similar question of W2AEW because he had done a video on prototyping construction techniques. He had a higher figure as his limit.
I think it would be a useful experiment to look into this a little deeper to try to see if it is really 4Mhz or even as high as 10Mhz or whatever.

It's one of those "it depends" things.
For say TTL level digital stuff you can probably get away with running 10MHz on a breadboard, and I've probably done that high myself in the past and gotten away with it. But something like a 1MHz switchmode controller probably would work very poorly or not at all on breadboard. Even 100KHz is going to cause trouble due to the loop inductances, capacitance, and general dickiness.

Yes - definitely one of those "it depends" things.  1MHz is a pretty safe limit.  I think I stated a typical limit of a few MHz in my video, but of course "it depends.  The biggest factors are things like:
1) The fact that it is much more difficult to create good, broadband power supply decoupling due to lack of ground plane.
2) The 2-2.5pF capacitance exists between every adjacent node, so you have to consider the effects of this node coupling (not capacitance to ground)
3) High impedance nodes will be most dramatically affected.
4) Feedback networks can be particularly problematic - especially where the node-node capacitance is magnified by circuit gain, or where node-node capacitance forms a positive feedback path.
5) etc...
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Offline electronics man

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2014, 08:55:14 pm »
If u can't use breadboard for switch old power supplies how do you prototype them first time
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Offline open loop

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Re: EEVblog #568 - Solderless Breadboard Capacitance
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2014, 09:11:07 pm »
So, does anyone know the function of the gutter/divider in the middle? They all have it, without fail.

Cooling and making sure a hot IC doesn't burn the plastic instantly.

I am going to do a quick check to see if the plastic that has been heated and melted makes any difference to its dielectric properties. My hunch is not at all... Yes I have an abused breadboard from when the TTL chip got wired wrongly and then it got very hot and then melted the breadboard.

When I was a youg lad I built the radio in the ladybird book "making a transistor radio" by the Rev George Dobbs. That was on the original wooden breadboard using OC71 transistors, still got the book. Sadly the radio is long gone...
 


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