Evaluating the Unusual and Innovative Perf+ Protoboard

Back in 2015 [Ben Wang] attempted to re-invent the protoboard with the Perf+. Not long afterward, some improvements (more convenient hole size and better solder mask among others) yielded an updated version which I purchased. It’s an interesting concept and after making my first board with it here are my thoughts on what it does well, what it’s like to use, and what place it might have in a workshop.

Perf+ Overview

One side of a Perf+ 2 board. Each hole can selectively connect to bus next to it with a solder bridge. The bus strips are horizontal on the back side.
One side of a Perf+ board. Each hole can selectively connect to the bus next to it with a solder bridge. These bus strips are vertical. The ones on the back are horizontal.

The Perf+ is two-sided perfboard with a twist. In the image to the left, each column of individual holes has a bus running alongside. Each hole can selectively connect to its adjacent bus via a solder bridge. These bus traces are independent of each other and run vertically on the side shown, and horizontally on the back.

Each individual hole is therefore isolated by default but can be connected to one, both, or neither of the bus traces on either side of the board. Since these traces run vertically on one side and horizontally on the other, any hole on the board can be connected to any other hole on the board with as few as two solder bridges and without a single jumper wire.

It’s an innovative idea, but is it a reasonable replacement for perfboard or busboard? I found out by using it to assemble a simple prototype.

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SMAC Mag: Spider’s Minimal Analog Control Paintball Gun


[Spider!]’s contribution to the pantheon of paintball markers is the SMAC: a unique revision to one of Airgun Design’s ever-popular Automags. We needed our tipster, [Russell] to provide some context on the Automag’s evolution, because the brand has served as a popular hacking platform for nearly 20 years. The most frequent is a “Pneumag” modification, which converts the original, fully-mechanical trigger pull into a version where the trigger actuates a pneumatic cylinder to fire the gun.

According to [Russell], the Pneumag’s trigger must completely release between each shot to properly recharge the firing chamber. Without a full release, the gun can load extra balls into the barrel and lead to gloppy consequences. Electronic controls solve this problem, but [Spider!] favored an analog solution that captured a “less is more” mentality over a pre-fab microcontroller board. He built the circuit around a 556 timer used as a delayed re-trigger, but with a few modifications.

Swing by [Spider!]’s forum post for additional details, a cluster of pictures and a bill of materials. Microcontroller alternatives? We’ve got you covered.

Analog robot navigates around the workshop with ease


Many of the robots we feature here are driven by some sort of microcontroller, whether it be an Arduino, Launchpad, Picaxe, etc. Rarely do we see a robot however, using analog circuits to perform higher-level functions typically relegated to those more complex controllers. Instructables user [hasn0life] built such a robot recently, which he entered into a contest at his college. After hearing about the 555 design contest from a friend, he tweaked his project and created a wall-following robot using a 556 timer.

The robot is fairly simple when you take a close look, though that does not take away from the elegance of his design. A single IR sensor is used to detect objects in the robot’s periphery, guiding the robot along. When the robot gets too close to a wall, one wheel reverses, pulling the robot away. Once the robot has moved a sufficient distance, the other wheel is reversed in order to straighten out the robot. Then, both wheels work in concert to get the robot moving forward.

Take a look at the video below to watch the robot navigate its way around his workshop, and if you are interested in learning more about analog robotics, check out this post from a few days back.

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