Protostack Unveils Revised Medium-Sized Prototyping Board

This week, Protostack unveiled the latest revision to its critically acclaimed, medium-sized prototyping PCBs that now allows users to easily work with SMD components, such as 802-sized resistors, capacitors, and LEDs. The new boards feature the same “Breadboard” style layout, but have revised copper traces on the top of the boards as well as updated screen printing. 

From Protostack:

"For a while now we've wanted to improve our board layout in 2 areas:

  • Making the tracks easier to see
  • Allowing small SMD components (eg 0805 resistors) to be soldered to the top layer

What we have done with this design is applying an immersion tin treatment to the entire track, on both top and bottom. Immersion tin is the silver looking treatment we normally apply to the pads on the bottom layer to protect the pad against corrosion and to make soldering easier. This is shown in grey in the rendered image. We've also changed the way the positive and negative power rails are marked. This is to allow the SMD components to be soldered onto the power rails."  

The old version of Protostack’s medium-sized prototyping board. 

As you can see in the image above, the old style boardsdo not feature any copper traces on top of the board. This posed a problem for users, such as myself, who often prototype with discrete SMD components to save space and money. Protostack made the decision to update the top of the board with the same trace layout as the bottom, making SMD component population much easier. The new layout is pictured below. 

Protostack’s revised medium-sized prototyping board.

The board still utilizes the same five-hole DIP layout with power and ground rails wrapping each discrete component block. This new layout forced Protostack to redesign the board's silkscreen as well. The power rail is now wrapped in a solid white line, while the ground rail is surrounded by a dashed line. Protostack says that this should make the rails easier to identify. 

A rendering showing the new power and ground rail silk screening. 

The new boards feature the same immersion tin treatment that can be found on all of Protostack’s prototyping and development boards. If you have never experienced a prototyping board that has had its traces immersion coated, you are truly missing out. Cheap strip board and prototyping boards from China are notorious for corrosion on their copper traces. This means that the end user has to clean the boards with chemicals or abrasive materials before being able to solder to them. This not only waste valuable time, but removes material from the already thin copper layer which in turn makes the solder joint weak. We have several of the new boards on the way, so expect a full review of the boards in the coming month. 

Example of the immersion tin treatment that is applied to the copper traces on all Protostack PCBs. 

Soldering components to a board that has been immersion tin coated is quick, easy, and does not require any special prep work. The day I discovered Protostack boards, I threw out over 50 cheap prototyping boards I had ordered from China weeks before. If you would like to purchase one of these new prototyping boards, head over to their page on Protostack.com. The image on the product page is still of the old board design, but Protostack assures me that orders placed for the medium-sized board will receive the new design. 

A sample project that was built using the old-style Protostack medium-sized prototyping board. 

Want to win one of the new boards? We have teamed up with Protostack to give away one of the new medium-sized prototyping boards. All you have to do is head over to The Makers Workbench's Facebook page and give us a like. Then leave a comment on the stickied post about this article. Finally, head over to Protostack’s Facebook page, and give them a like as well. We will announce the winner on March 1, 2016. In the interest of full disclosure, Protostack.com is a sponsor of TheMakersWorkbench.com, but this is not a paid post. We genuinely love their products, and thank them for their continued support of us over the last four years! 


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