Prototyping electronics projects tends to create a tangle of parts and wires all loosely slung about. I like to have a few things on the go at once which means lots of moving things around in order to change what I’m playing with.

This used to be annoying until I noticed a clever trick by Ward Cunningham who is best known for inventing the Wiki and simplifying software development. In this video Ward talks to Scott Hanselman about the neat things going on in his basement. About 20 seconds in Ward shows the board he uses for sensors.

I love the simplicity of this idea. A small board is used to hold all the bits in place and can be easy moved around or stored for later.

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Here are some I have now...

Project board using MDF (Small)

Project board using MDF in a box (Small)

The board can be made from anything flat and hard. I typically use 3-5mm white MDF melamine  or plain MDF as it is cheap, easy to cut, drill and stick. Cardboard is a bit floppy. Sticking the microcontroller to the board helps stop USB cables dragging it off my desk and a little bit of weight in the board can keep motors and servos in place while I try out code.

Parts and wires can be held to the board with hot glue, screws, bluetac or sticky tape. Everything is easy to move around and change but permanent enough that it stays with the board. I also make notes on the board in pencil.

When I’m all done for the day the board can live in a shoebox or on a shelf rather than spread out on a desk or the floor. Everything is ready to go for next time, unless I borrow parts for another project.