In this article I will attempt to explain how to use veroboard. The theory of veroboard is simple and the idea is fantastic. It’s a multipurpose printed circuit board to construct electronics on. A huge plus point of veroboard is the fact that because of its popularity it seems unlikely that its manufacture will stop. That’s something that can’t be said of other PCB’s. It’s one thing that I’ve always found to be a problem with electronics construction. You can find a circuit diagram of a design that seems perfect but try and get hold of the PCB that it’s built on. The problem is that even if a PCB was originally available it was probably manufactured in such limited numbers and they have long since disappeared. I can’t honestly foresee a time when the same will be said for standard veroboard.
They are a few down sides to using veroboard. Circuits are tricky to build, it’s certainly harder than just soldering parts into professionally manufactured PCB’s. For one thing there’s no specific place to put components. They can literally go anywhere and that’s the problem. It’s all too easy to put something in the wrong place. The difficulty increases the larger and more complex your circuits become and you’ll find the equivalent circuit on a dedicated PCB will also take up far less space.
There are upsides to using veroboard as well though. Its easily available, it’s cheap and you can get circuits up a running on it in a relatively short time. It’s also a bit more reliable and permanent than building a circuit on breadboard.
For these reasons veroboard is perfect for beginners of electronic construction and if that’s you this article is written for you and after reading this you should have a good idea of how to use veroboard.
Veroboard is a printed circuit board that’s designed with rows of copper tracks with holes drilled in then for electronic components to be soldered to construct electronic circuits.
The hole and tracks are all spaced a tenth of an inch apart. If that dimension sounds familiar it’s because it’s the same spacing as IC’s use so these will fit perfectly. The idea is that all the holes on a row are joined electrically by the copper strip so you plan your layout accordingly. Sometimes you won’t want the continuous copper strip so you will have to cut it to break the circuit. This happens when you use an IC. You will have to break the tracks of all the joined pins under the IC.
The best way to explain how to use veroboard is to actually do a real veroboard design. That way we will be able to introduce the techniques as and when they happen. Things like the actual veroboard circuit design, track cutting and building.
The diagram above shows a simple 555 timer circuit.
The first thing I do is to print out a circuit diagram of what I’m going to layout on veroboard. This is one that I can draw on. You can either use paper or a software application to design your layout. If this is your first time I would start with graph paper and a pencil and eraser. If you do decide to go down the software route you need to be familiar with the operation of the program as it can get quite frustrating if it won’t seem to do what you want it to, speaking from personal experience.
You need to know the size of the components that you are using. Things like ordinary resistors and diodes are fairly similar but capacitors can vary a lot. You don’t want to end up with a perfectly good veroboard design only to find you can’t physically fit the component in were its supposed to go! So if you can’t get all the components to hand at least know how big they are.
There are many different ways to design a veroboard circuit and not really a right or wrong way to do it. I start with the components with the largest number of pin outs and start placing the other components around them. In this case it’s the 8 pin 555 timer IC.
When doing a veroboard circuit design you’re going to be drawing it looking from above so pin one will be top left. Draw it in the middle of the graph paper. If you have it to hand or a DIL socket if you going to be using one of them, you’ll notice that its two rows of pins are .3 of an inch apart. I put dots on the graph paper where the pins go and draw a rectangle to signify its outline. Don’t forget that the tracks under the IC will need to be cut. So mark those on the graph paper.
Then I’ll put links on the diagram to connect the pins that are joined together. If they are on different sides on the IC I use a track above or below the IC so the links are short and straight.
As you can see with this example both of the links, pin 2 – pin 6 and pin 4 – pin 8, are on opposite sides of the IC so I’ve used four wire links so far. Then using a highlighter pen draw on the circuit diagram printout the links you’ve just drawn on the graph paper.
Looking at R1 it connects to pin 7 and pin 2 but pin 2 and pin 6 are connected together so they are now effectively one connection. It doesn’t matter which one you use so it makes sense to use the most convenient one so in this case with R1 connecting to pin 7 you can mount it vertically between pins 6 and 7 as shown below.
Once again use the highlighter and draw in the connection.
Resistor 2 connects to pin 7 and pin 4 but pin 4 and pin 8 are connected together so again you can use the one that’s most convenient so it can be mounted vertically between pins 7 and 8 as shown below.
Keep highlighting the connections on the circuit diagram as you draw them in on the veroboard design. It helps to see what you have done and what is left to do.
C1 connects to pin 1 and pin 2 or pin 6 so as you can see it’s easy to connect it between pin 1 and pin 2. One thing to be aware of with C1 as that it is a polarised component that has to be connected the correct way round. It is marked with a + symbol and that is the connection that goes to pin 2 so mark it on the veroboard design to be aware of when you come to construct it.
C2 connects to pin 5 and pin 1 so it’s easier to connect it to pin 5 and the spare track under IC1 and then link that to pin 1 as shown below.
If you look at the circuit diagram you will see that the LED also has to connect to pin 1 so you can connect it to this same track that has also become a pin 1 connection. Then connect R3 from pin 3 to the other side of the LED. Note that the LED is also a polarised component so mark this on you veroboard design.
All that’s left to do now is draw on where you will connect the battery or power supply to and as you can see you can simply mark them on your veroboard design.
This is the drawing that you will use to build the circuit on veroboard.
The first thing you need to do is either get the required size veroboard as it comes in many sizes or as a lot of people do cut the exact size you can build the circuit on from a larger size. There will be lots of occasions when you will want to build the circuit on as smaller size as you can if you’re going to be fitting it into a project box or something similar. If so you can read the guide How to cut veroboard to explain the techniques involved.
The second thing that you need to do is make the cuts on the back, that’s the copper side of the board. Don’t forget that they will be transposed as you turn it over. The page Cutting veroboard tracks will give you tips and guidance on the techniques for this.
Veroboard is a very popular product that has been available for years and because of its popularity it’s widely available from many outlets. My favourite place to buy it is from Amazon due to its very reasonable prices. I can buy and place small orders, which is something I can’t do from my other electronic hobbyist suppliers that require minimum orders of £35.
This is a size that I use for small projects. Handy to keep in stock when you get an idea and want to get it up and running. Small stripboard 25mm x 64mm, 3 in the pack.
Hopefully you now know how to use veroboard enough to actually go and try to use it as there’s nothing like experience.