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The Innovative Perf+ Protoboard
The Perf+ is two-sided perfboard with a twist. Each column of individual holes has a bus running alongside. Each hole can selectively connect to its adjacent bus via a solder bridge. These bus traces are independent of each other and run vertically on the side shown, and horizontally on the back.
Each individual hole is therefore isolated by default but can be connected to one, both, or neither of the bus traces on either side of the board. Since these traces run vertically on one side and horizontally on the other, any hole on the board can be connected to any other hole on the board with as few as two solder bridges and without a single jumper wire.
It’s an innovative idea, but is it a reasonable replacement for perfboard or busboard? I found out by using it to assemble a simple prototype.
The prototype Laziness Defender was assembled by diving straight in; in other words, tested on a breadboard then hacked together from the schematic like a junk-box project as though I were using normal perfboard or busboard to quickly get something working. I attempted to use the Perf+ for all the signal routing, which I did with the exception of two capacitors soldered directly to the LM556 pins because by then, I would have had to do some pretty convoluted connections to make them work and I was already running into problems keeping track of things on the Perf+ board.
There is an open-source tool called Perfy which allows visualizing and laying out connections to generate plans of where to solder, bridge, and cut on a Perf+ board, but I didn’t find it very useful for assembling a project in an ad-hoc manner.
The Perf+ may have a place as an alternative to a PCB for small quantities of finished units that are not expected to need any changes or rework. The result is wire-free and clean-looking, which may be worth the added effort of planning the layout and connections with a tool like Perfy.
The Perf+ can also be used as a straightforward perfboard alternative with the added bonus of making simple bus connections very easily. Knowing when to stay away from complex routing on Perf+ in favor of the occasional jumper wire (or point-to-point soldering direct to leads) absolutely makes things easier to troubleshoot or modify later.