A Low-Cost Development System

This is actually something that I came up with last year for the Unofficial Propeller Expo-NorthEast.  Since the purpose of my company is to help engineering students, my display at the expo was about development systems.  I even had a display that showed an original breadboard, made on a wooden board (similar to the bread cutting boards of the early 20th century electronics hobbyists.)

I had found a white mini-shelf unit.  It was just a white-washed wooden box, about 14″ by 14″ and about 3′ tall.  One side was opened, and there were several shelves on a peg-mounting system; the kind where there is a series of holes in the sidewalls, and pegs fit into those holes, with the shelves sitting on those holes.

Most engineers have to work on more than one project at a time, so my idea was to have each project on it’s own tray and then to keep each project on a shelf until you want to work on it, then you would just take it out of the box and then put it back when you are done.  Then you can take out, and work on, the next project.

One of the boards in my development system.

The board is just a cheapy plate, which I bought at WalMart for 4 for a dollar.  Use double-sided foam tape to mount your breadboard, development circuitry and a battery holder to the plate.  You can use just about anything, even a thin piece of plywood.  If you do use wood, be careful: I have heard of pieces of metal being embedded into some wood.  That should not matter here, since everything would be taped to the surface; but if you screw or nail any circuitry to the board, be careful to check for shorts.

What you would do is to take one board (plate) for each development project and build your circuit, one per board.  I had one board with a Parallax Propeller Protoboard (http://www.parallax.com/Store/Microcontrollers/PropellerDevelopmentBoards/tabid/514/CategoryID/73/List/0/SortField/0/Level/a/ProductID/509/Default.aspx), like the one above, and then another one with a Chibots Controller (the Chibot Controller is no longer available, but the M32 Dev is,  check it out at http://www.wrighthobbies.net/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=30) board for experimenting with Atmel’s Mega-8 chips.

This will also help you if you only work with one product or family.  You would use one tray for each separate project on which you work.

I hope that this gives you some ideas to help you with your development projects.