One SMT Breakout to Rule Them All

You need to use surface-mount technology (SMT) parts in your design. But you also need to prototype. How to fit those little buggers into your breadboard?

[Simon] came up with a general-purpose SMT-to-breadboard solution. Now, there are already myriad adapter boards for the many-pin devices: SSOP-to-DIP adapters and so on. But what do you do when you just need to work that tiny SOT223 voltage regulator into a breadboarded circuit?

[Simon]’s solution fills that gap with one breadboardable design to handle all of your small-pin-count part needs. It accommodates SOT223, SOT323, and SOT23 three-pin parts like transistors or voltage regulators, and also has pads for all of the common two-terminal parts like resistors and capacitors from 0402 on up to 1206. You could build up a full voltage regulator circuit on one of these things. He’s even included some whitespace on the back for your notes.

SMT parts aren’t even the future any more. And with the right procedure, they’re not hard to hand-assemble. So the next time you have some extra space in a PCB order, toss in a couple of [Simon]’s breakouts and you’ll be ready for your next breadboarding session.

35 thoughts on “One SMT Breakout to Rule Them All

  1. Someone should come up with an entire surface-mount breadboard with rows and rows of little spring loaded clips that can hold the components, with some sort of posts or holes for wiring.

    1. The problem appears to be that those bloody SMT parts come in wide variety of sizes, instead of just standard 2.54 mm grid usable for the through hole parts. So a breadboard of some sort would only work with one SMT size. Spring loaded clips that you mention might work for some wider selection.

      1. That’s the point.

        I was thinking of a U shaped spring that pushes the part against a metal post.

        Thing is, they would need to be exchangeable modules because you have to be able to accomodate three terminal parts and chips, so you might as well make a sort of small plastic blade that you can stack in a through. You get a bag of blades and put the components in the blades, and then stack them in rows in the holder, and wire them up.

      1. Actually, those springs nearly put me off electronics for life. Way too fiddly for my clumsy kid fingers and very unreliable as connectors. IIRC I only built two or three of those 150 projects :)

      2. The electronics kit I had as a kid was a “Dick Smith Fun Way to Electronics” … and it involved a plastic board with screw holes in it. You’d overlay a circuit schematic which also aligned with the physical circuit layout, and then connect the components together with hookup wire, using screws and washers at the join points which aligned with the schematic…

        No springs, no lotto number sequences.. you had to read the resistor values etc. yourself..

  2. I’d much rather have you promote actual projects rather than some page trying to sell me yet another overpriced breakout board for components that cost far less than the breakout board. It might be a neat design, but without the sources or a gerber or anything you can look at to learn from the design, it’s pretty much meh.

      1. Yea, but you can design your own and order them from a Chinese board house for pennies each if you are clever. Most board houses limit you to 5 separate circuits to a board, but if you electrically connect them, you can put as many as you want on one board. I have had 20 tiny circuits on one 5x5cm board, ordered it in 1.2mm thickness, and chopped them apart with a cheap brake-sheer from Harbor freight. I ordered 10 boards, so I ended up with 200 of these little boards. I even mix and match separate circuits on one board by just connecting one or two traces.

  3. Huh? I don’t know where all y’all live, but for me, if something is still available in PTH I’m going to use it. The last thing I need is this. What I need is something that will breakout SMT parts that are not possible to solder unless you have the reflexes and eyesight of an Ecuadorean teenager. Where’s the 48+ pin QFN (plus ground pad) solderless breakouts? Not everyone is privileged enough to buy $400 “evaluation kits” for a $49 IC that any major manufacturer will send you <=5 samples of for free. And what if that chip ends up not working in my application? I want to reuse the breakout. Not everyone is rich.

    1. There are actually really simple ways to solder QFNs with ground pads by hand with a relatively basic iron. All it takes it some though in PCB design, soldermask between pins and lots of flux. The trick is to leave a square without solder resist on the underside of the board around the vias in the QFN pad so that you basically solder the chip from the bottom through the PCB and with enough flux the chip will self centre and potentially solder all of its pins. You can then use drag soldering to get any straggling pins. EEVBlog has a video about this tecnique in #434 for MSOP packages but it applies to anything with a ground pad.

      That means that a breakout from QFN to dip is possible and quite cheap to roll yourself, so no need for evil kits.

  4. That adapter looks like it is using .025″ square posts. In my experience, plugging that size of post into at breadboard will permanently damage the breadboard. It over-stresses the socket contacts, leaving them intermittent with smaller wire leads used in the future. YMMV – just my experience over many years – maybe the current crop of breadboards are better able to handle large posts….

  5. What’s wrong with testing using standard through hole components? A resistor of one value is a resistor, for the purposes of the design the type probably won’t matter too much. If you’re doing analog design, the stray capacitances would cause more problems in the breadboard and then with layout compared to using a longer resistor.

  6. For everyone Bit*ching about the board files, the pdf is very clear on the names and positioning of the parts. You can make your own in eagle or something in a matter of minutes.

  7. Is it SMT or SMD? I have seen it written both ways, and both acronyms make sense. Can you use both acronyms interchangeably, or is their a distinguishing factor between technology and devices.

    1. SMT would be the technology used to attach one part to another. A circuit board wouldn’t be considered an SMD (surface-mount device) but WOULD be made for SMT (or TH/through-hole) technology.

      Technology is a method/idea/non-concrete thing. A device is something you can actually hold/view. So SMD’s mount to a circuit board via SMT.

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