For hobbyists, getting a printed circuit board made for their project can be a big issue, especially for those newly initiated. To make it easier for them, PCB manufacturers like Rush PCB UK produce veroboards or stripboards, as they are commonly known. Available off the shelf at very reasonable prices, these multipurpose printed circuit boards help to keep alive the interests of budding hobbyists.
Design of Veroboards
Although most veroboards are available in paper phenolic, glass epoxy makes are also available at slightly higher prices. While single-sided boards are available, double-sided boards are more common. Typically, veroboards have an array of holes, with a pitch of 0.1 inch (2.54 mm), to match the SIL or single-in-line and DIL or dual-in-line Integrated Circuit packages. Various board sizes are available—the largest being 10 x 6 inches and the smallest 3 x 2 inches.
Some boards may have strips of copper spanning the length of the board covering each row of holes, while others may have a square or round copper pad surrounding each hole. These designs are the most common, but many variations are also available. For instance, some boards may have copper strips covering only three or four holes in a row, with two strips in the center and on the edges covering each column of holes.
While the above designs are suitable for through hole components, there are veroboards meant for surface mount components also. These usually have one or more copper patterns to suit quad packages with several pads for two or three pad SMT packages. These boards may also have additional arrays of holes for adding through hole components.
Using veroboards is very intuitive. If the circuit has ICs, placing them far apart on the board is advisable, as this helps to accommodate the other components in between. For boards with square or round pads, placing the ICs is of no great consequence. But for boards with strips of copper, the placement must be such that the body of the IC is perpendicular to the length of the board. With this placement, each pin of the IC will be on a separate strip, with the strips shorting the two rows of pins of the IC. The hobbyist must cut off the copper between the two rows to prevent them from being shorted, and this they can easily do by using a drill bit.
It is best to have a prinitout of the schematic diagram of the circuit available. This is helpful when inserting the rest of the components. Hobbyists can exercise their ingenuity for utilizing the copper strips present on the veroboard for interconnections while cutting off the copper where it is not required. If interconnections are required, they may use wire jumpers or short lengths of insulated copper wire.
Hobbyists can use a similar process for assembling a veroboard with SMT components. It is advisable to solder the quad ICs before all others, as this allows maximum maneuvering with a soldering iron on all pins of the IC. Once the ICs are in place, the hobbyist can solder the other components following the schematic diagram.
Connecting external components like switches, connectors, speakers, and LEDs to the veroboard is also possible. The hobbyist can anchor the component to the board with fixtures before interconnecting them with wires.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Veroboards
The two biggest advantages of using veroboards as against specifically printed circuit boards is time and cost savings. The Hobbyist saves a lot of time because they do not have to design the board and wait for it to be manufactured. There are substantial cost savings because most PCB manufactures insist on a minimum order quantity, where only one board is the necessity.
However, veroboards can accommodate only simple circuits and are not suitable for complicated ones. Likewise, veroboards are not suitable for fine-pitch SMT components. Rush PCB UK recommends using veroboards only for low frequency and low power circuits.