TV’s MacGyver would love the breadboard arrangement we saw recently: it uses paperclips and crimping to make circuits that can be more or less permanent with no soldering. The basic idea is simple. A cardboard base has a piece of paper affixed. Metal paperclips are bent straight and glued to the paper using PVA glue (you know, like ordinary Elmer’s; hot glue would probably work, too). You could probably salvage wires out of old house wiring that would work for this, too.
The scheme uses two sizes of paper clips. Large ones are made straight and form the rails, while small paperclips make connections. The rails are bent to have a little “ear” that pushes into the cardboard base to hold them still. A little glue stabilizes them. The ears poke out the back, so the author suggests covering them with duct tape, hot glue, or another piece of cardboard. Using the top of a shoebox would also solve the problem.
Using pliers, the smaller paperclips are made to grip components. Obviously, you’ll need through-hole components and any sort of IC will probably require a little adapter board. This technique is really better for simple circuits with no ICs. For quick connections, you can crimp a single hook or use a double hook for a stronger connection that is harder to install.
There are other makeshift items included such as a magnetic battery holder. If you really prefer to solder, we’ve done something really similar using copper foil tape as the rails. You can find this tape at craft stores that sell supplies for staining glass. You can actually treat the tape like a PCB trace so long as you remember to solder where they cross as the adhesive will probably insulate the two pieces of tape.
This would be a fun rainy day project with kids. We doubt it will displace the ubiquitous breadboard, although there are some ideas that are attempting to do just that. We’ve also seen other people use paperclips for a variety of unusual purposes — including the ever popular paperclip computer.