Skip Navigation.
Section 0

How to build high reliability prototype circuit boards

by Sandro Sfregola [21010294] <>

If you have to build a prototype or a single piece of a circuit for your own use (like those you can find in my projects), you don't need a traditional printed circuit board; you can build a high reliability substitute that, if well done, will last for life; here is a description of materials and tools required: with a little practice you should be able to build very compact boards, with a component density comparable with normal (not SMT!) double sided PCB.

Wire-wrapping vs. soldering

Wire-wrap is widely used for prototyping in pre-production environments as well as an alternative to traditional soldering in industrial production; I've seen a NASA paper that recommend wire-wrap as a high reliability substitute to soldering in aerospace applications (high G force); nevertheless, I never use wire-wrap for the following reasons:

So, unless you are planning to put your circuit in a new satellite, I suggest you to consider point to point soldering; to do this, you need near the same materials and tools as for wire-wrapping.

Required tools and materials

Ready to go ...

As a general rule, I recommend the following steps in board construction:

An example

Here is an example of a useful tool that I designed and built about 13 years ago; it is an in-circuit, EPROM emulator for firmware development and debugging; as you can see it is very compact although the circuit complexity.