PROTOTYPE PREVIEW: New protoboard under way

Don’t you hate it? A big bag of SMT parts arrive from Mouser, DigiKey or eBay, but your carefully manufactured PCBs are still under way? Or the firmware needs to be done ASAP? Or you got this super cool USB SOIC uC you’d love to try out and you can’t wait? We run into this all the time, which is why we love to design protoboards.

This new SOIC protoboard is based on our in-house version, beefed up with a few improvements. This board has room for:

  • A max 32 pin SOIC chip
  • Each pin is broken out to prototype area and can be easily connected through a resistor or capacitor (0805 or 0603) to Vcc or GND
  • Each pin also has a through-hole via to easily solder wires
  • 2 standard 4×4  buttons
  • PTH or SMT HC49 crystal, with capacitors
  • USB connector, with all pins broken out
  • Regulated power from USB through a SOT23-5 or SOT223 LDO voltage regulator (both fixed and adjustable version supported)
  • Room for a 1206 polyfuse to prevent excessive currents and shorts
  • Small 0805/0603 playground

More below.

Pins 1-16 and 17-32 are broken out like this. The power supplies are around the edges and the pins of the SOIC are in the middle. The V++ and GND are connected to the voltage regulator.

The 0805/0603 playground. Here you can add some 0805 or 0603 components and mix them together to add some RC circuit or transistors for all your microcontrollers needs.

These board be soon available at Seeed Studio. We have two boards to give out this week and we’ll give them to the two most original comments. It doesn’t matter what you do with these, but the originality of the comment is all that counts!

Join the Conversation


  1. sweet,robust devboard in minutes! .. Btw,usb connector,great touch.First time I saw that on a ‘breakout’ board.

    Also,are those two chunks of pins compatible to be pushed into a bread board?

    1. unfortunately it isn’t.. The pitch is 1mm, which is perfectly for mounting 0805/0603.

      Ideally for pullup/downs of pins or bypass caps.

  2. You say this is based off of an internal protoboard design you already use; I’d like to know more about how you use the SMT playground. How did you come to settle on that Tetris-like layout? Do you use it ‘cleanly’, or do you find yourself cutting traces, soldering parts over through holes, soldering bridges between pads? Do you see any point to extending it to a larger grid? I haven’t done any SMT work yet so maybe this is all obvious to the initiate?

    Hmm… A stack of Tetris blocks over two button outlines. Why did my thumbs just twitch?

      1. That Flower protoboard looks pretty interesting, thanks for pointing that out.

        What strikes me about your SMT playground though is the locations of the through holes. Wouldn’t it make more sense to stagger them the opposite way, so each hole has two pads in one direction and one the other way? That would give you more potential connection points in your SMT grid, would it not? Maybe I’m just not getting how these things work. Wouldn’t be the first time.

    1. Here’s what I’m saying about the SMT playground:

      Without putting components over the through-holes, the original layout give the top and bottom two L’s access to 1 other L and the middle four L’s each have access to 2 other L’s, Moving the through-holes adds one to each of those access counts.

      Also, the original and modified designs each have three clusters of four SMT pads, but in the modified design each of those clusters includes four different L’s. That seems to be a bit more flexible, doesn’t it?

      1. HI there, Bruce.

        I’m interested in your thoughts regarding hole placement in the SMT playground but I just can’t see what you are suggesting. Can you spell things out a little more clearly?



      2. Yeah, that wasn’t the clearest, was it.

        Here’s a new image comparing what I see as the easy places to put SMT parts down on the playground with the original format and with my modified version. The blue ‘parts’ are possible in both, but the yellow parts are possible in the new version only. Note that they connect L’s that couldn’t reach each other before except by putting SMT parts over holes. My layout looks more flexible, don’t you think?

        Of course now that I look at it this way, I think rather than just changing the hole stagger I should have pushed the through holes all the way to the edges. Left, right, right, left all the way down… that way every SMT pad has a possible mate in a different L, and there are more pad pairs in general that could be used. That has no downside that I can see.

        Is that a bit more clear, or just more mud?

        Also, I’m curious who won the giveaway boards; anybody know?

      3. I’ll change the footprint. This is a good idea.

        I’ll need to make the blog post about the winners (they are already picked)

  3. Have you ever considered a 2 sided PCB having .5mm pitch on one side and .65mm on the other?? That would save having two versions. I have seen this technique on some adapter boards.

    1. not for this board, but we consider it for the qfp footprints (although we couldn decided which two to combine..)

      we could combine ssop with soic whough.. (or was this the idea? like kmmankad above mentioned?)

  4. This would be a life saver right now. I have some sample IC’s I need to test for my charging circuit for my robot and would be great to try everything before having a printed board and mounting everything. Plus practice some smd soldering :-) .

  5. I say you forget the whole protoboard thing and just test your SOIC “deadbug”. Or build in some really teeny alligator clips.

  6. “Or you got this super cool USB SOIC uC you’d love to try out and you can’t wait?”

    Mate, you’re killing me. I’ve been looking for a platform to use the SOIC PIC32MX USB parts that have been sitting here. In the end I ordered some PDIP versions and hopefully by now the DIP PIC32MX board that Ian promised me is in the mail.

    This board is exactly what would have filled the bill. The only thing missing is a ICSP header but that is an easy add.

    Meanwhile my PIC32MX USB stack and new pic programmer sit here waiting for the required hardware.

  7. Free it’s one of my two favorite words that start with the letter F!

    So IC you have a new proto board. ;-)

      1. It is. “The Most Versitile Word In The English Language” for all the reasons Carlin originally stated.
        There is a Nova or TLC show where a doctor attempts to explain the who why and how some people are offended. In short F,C and C words go together, if you’re offended by one you will be the others, they’re scottish origin.

  8. If you have 2 different pitches ( one on either side),and if the pin connections arent overly bad(VCC of one pin to the GND of another and that sort) you could have 2 dev boards on the same PCB!

    Also,say u had 2 chips of a different kind which are drop in replacements of one another,as sometimes it is in MCU families,then that would be cool too! .. catch my drift? :P

    Thats when 2 sides of a coin(board) are equally awesome :D

    1. I just got my board in the mail yesterday. I almost couldn’t fall asleep because my mind was going full throttle thinking what I could prototype on it. Upon pulling it out of the envelope, I grabbed my DMM and started testing continuity to see what connected to where. It was fun :)

      This is a really nice board, I agree that the playground could be reworked just a bit, but otherwise it is well laid out.

  9. Lucky you Kev, I’ll be interested to see what you make with it. “I thinks I gotta get me one-a those!”

  10. I found this page and would love to work with this type of board. I looked all over but couldn’t find anybody selling the boards or offering files (eg, Eagle) of the design. Am I missing them? If the boards aren’t being sold, can the files be made available?


    1. Not sure about this exact board, but many of the DP boards are available from Seeed Studio and most of the board files are in the repository.
      If you look at the links at the top left of this page, you will see various references and one of them will take you here

      If you want to purchase, checkout here

      Or for a chance to win one, enter the free PCB draw on Sunday here on DP, on Twitter on Tuesday or Facebook on Friday.

  11. Thanks. I had gone through the Seeed Studio site, and like what they have, but this board design would really be useful for me. Which repository are you referring to ? (sorry it it is somewhere obvious that i’m just overlooking).


    1. The xQFP Protoboards have a ‘Playground’ area similar to this, but if that doesn’t suit your needs, then you will probably find this one buried in the repository somewhere, which is on Google Code.If you look up the Projects pages (link at top), you will find the Protoboard page
      There is various links there including the Design files which will take you to the Google code pages and you should be able to find it there.
      For instance, it looks like the xQFP ones are here.

      Also, read Bruce’s post above and have a look at the link he posted, looks like a good idea. I think they changed to that format.

      Again, I’m not sure about this exact board, but the files will very likely be floating around there somewhere, but you will need to dig around a bit. If you still have trouble then maybe Sjaak will know.

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