Breadboard Question


A friend has asked me to sort out a breadboard layout for them.

I’ve created the schematic, exported to PCB New and drawn it using 2 layers.

Top layer is the layer showing the wire links and bottom layer the breadboard connections.

(There is a post somewhere about that but I can’t find it).

So far so good, connectivity is good ERC fine etc.

However I’m trying to figure out the easiest way to show how to make the circuit on the breadboard.

So far this is my solution:.

When laying out the PCB use 2.54mm grid.
Add wire links on top layer using 2mm track width
Complete connections on bottom layer using 0.8mm width.

Then create an array of vias which matches the holes in the breadboard.
Lock the breadboard vias.
Move the Layout onto the vias.
Adjust if needed.

The width of the tracks does not really matter. It’s more about showing the links on the top layer.

So far I have 2 options for showing how to make the circuit:

  1. Generate a 3d view with the following settings:
    Turn off solder resist.
    Set PCB color to match breadboard color
    Change color of top tracks (yellow)

  2. Generate a layout view with the vias, top layer tracks and component outlines.

Typing this I’ve thought that it might be worth wile creating a breadboard silkscreen with the numbering on the breadboard.

Any other suggestions as to how best to generate a suitable output file?


I’m curious why you want the PCB to resemble the breadboard. A breadboard is only a tool to test out circuit ideas. It’s not that hard to place the components on a PCB and route the traces, and you will get better with practice.

Hi @WaLrUs,

I’d have thought a schematic, a layout resembling a PCB, and a picture of the result should be enough for your (obviously new to electronics) friend.

Maybe using graphic lines instead of tracks on a different layer, to represent jumpers on the breadboard, would help clarify as you can’t really stuff a jumper end and a component end in the same hole.

I shudder to type this, but Fritzing? I found it painful but if they are simple schematics and you are married to having it look like a bread board, I’d try that.

While reading the first post I was also thinking about Fritzing, but I would not have manetioned it if Hermit had not started it.

Fritzing looks much like a breadboard. It is popular by people who write books about electronics for beginners, because it has such nice breadboard pictures. But a result is that beginners also start Fritzining.

I find the idea of showing a breadboard with wires, instead of a schematic quite abhorrent. You have to reverse engineer the breadboard to get to a schematic ???

I think it’s better to give your friend a schematic and then let him figure out the breadboard layout for himself. The schematic gives a much clearer view about what a piece of electronics actually does (or should do) A view of a breadboard reduces that to following colored lines and comparing those with a picture. It’s easy, it also gets you some result, but it does not help you to understand how it actually works and how the parts interact.

Thank you people,
I had never heard of Fritzing… but that means very little.

If I was the OP I’d give the friend both a schematic and a “colourful” PCB/ 3d view/ Fritzig and probably a real PCB layout as well.

The colourful diagram will give gratification quickly to see something happen with the bits of “stuff”, and the schematic will help when the friend eventually wants to know why and how the bits of stuff work.

You have, also, LochMaster from Abacom:

And VeeCad also supports a breadboard layout - and is now FOSS. Apparently you can import KiCad schematics too.


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If anything the breadboard columns are a distraction. You could do worse than take a schematic, say like an amplifier where the power rails are at the top and bottom and the signal flows L to R, and any feedback flows the other way and make an initial layout from that.

Thanks for all the responses.

Fritzing I was going to look into, but as I am already using KiCad thought there might be something I could use.

Whilst the option I provided seems to work, I just wanted to see if anyone else had any other suggestions to make the KiCad output closer to a breadboard layout.

I’ll stick with the first approach of schematic, 3d picture of the above and possibly the PCB layer showing where the wire links should go.

The reason for hand holding approach is to try and minimise the frustration with the breadboard and learn more about the principle behind a circuit. The 3d model provides and indication as to what they should get at the end.

I’ll test it out and see how it goes.


  1. Set your grid to 2.54mm (same as on most of the breadboards/perfboards)
  2. Create visual boundary to match the size of the breadboard’s grid
  3. Create the cutout boundaries to match outer size of grid (size of perfboard)
  4. Use footprints with 2.54mm pin/leg distance only
  5. Set default network trace size to 2.54mm
  6. If you use two-sided perfboard, lean on vias and connect sides with some wire (e.g. trimmed legs leftovers)
  7. If you need additional PCB for production, duplicate the pcb file and create something nicer and you keep this one as a prototype
  8. You can even use “prototype” board for production (see image)

KiCad is really easy to learn. I would recommend to stick to the plan you had.

You could make a 3D model of a breadboard and add that to your “PCB”.
Some time ago I saw a few screenshots here of someone who made 3D models of wire bridges. And with both of those you can probably make something that looks pretty realistic.

If what it looks like is your main goal, then fritzing may be of some value to you. It’s probably a lot easier to use that, compared to even making the 3D model for a breadboard for KiCad (which would need external software).

With fritzing however you put yourself into a corner with very limited functionality. If you learn to use KiCad, you can use it to design any PCB you like, and with today’s PCB services of a few Euro’s you can give your friend a real PCB instead of a breadboard layout.

I agree with others that perhaps it isn’t “necessary”… but I disagree with the scorn poured on the idea. I LIKE what you have set out. See very little that I would change… IF I wanted to do something like this.

Mention is made of people who write material for beginners, but in a fairly derogatory tone, and dismissive, IN SPITE of pointing out that some such authors “send” potential Ki-cad users to Fritzing? Why not EMBRACE this idea, get the word out to authors that it WORKS… and thus maybe, in the way that they used to bring fresh blood to the Fritzing platform, they will bring fresh blood to Kicad??

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Whilst I make small PCB’s for many audio projects, I sometimes build one-offs onto stripboard. I create the schematic in KiCad, then use 0.1" squared paper and a pencil to design the actual layout!

I sometimes realise one off small circuits on perfboard, stripboard, or matrixboard with through holes, all of which can be purchased online. I use eeschema to draw the schematic and sometimes even do the layout in pcbnew bearing in mind that the connections are made with wires or strips. The part of the original proposal that makes little sense to me is insisting on the breadboard restriction of columns of connection points. You have to contort the schematic to fit within that restriction, where nets are restricted in location and orientation and can only have 5 connections unless extended to another column. Why not layout the PCB like a well-drawn schematic?

The reason I suspect is people want to jump straight into layout without a schematic. I think this is a self-inflicted handicap. You can actually do a lot of mental design and debugging on a well-drawn schematic.

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