Make a Breadboard for Electronic Circuits - Papercliptronics



About: Logician. Interests: Computer Programming and Inventing. Electronic Circuits. Homemade Breadboards.

We MAKE a HOMEMADE BREADBOARD using Paperclips as the Conductive Rails.

These are STRONG and PERMANENT Electronic Circuits.

In this tutorial we will MAKE:

  • LED Light Circuit on our Paperclip Breadboard
  • Light Detector Circuit on our Paperclip Breadboard
  • Dark Detector Circuit on our Paperclip Breadboard
  • Water Detector Circuit on our Paperclip Breadboard
  • Dual LED Blinking Circuit on our Paperclip Breadboard

Enjoy Our Step-by-Step Tutorial on Creating Homemade Electronic Circuits.

Step 1: Let's EXAMINE the Homemade Breadboard


We USE 10 Paperclips to be the Rails of our Homemade Breadboard.

We MAKE a Top Rail, Bottom Rail & 8 Rails in the middle.

The Top Rail is Connected to the Positive End of our D BATTERIES.

The Bottom Rail is Connected to the Negative End of our D BATTERIES.

We CRIMPED Paperclip Connectors onto the Legs of our Resistor & LED.

We then CRIMPED those Paperclip Connectors to our Paperclip Rails.

Step 2: Paperclip Power Connector - Using Magnets (Neodymium)

We can USE 3 small cylindrical Neodymium Magnets to make EASY Connections for our Battery Power Supply.

We USE Paperclips to CONNECT from the Breadboard Power Rails to the Battery, which has a Magnet on Each End.

There is also a Magnet in the Middle of the (2) D Batteries to Keep them Connected together.

Step 3: Power Supply USES Two D Batteries - POS to 3rd Rail - NEG to 1st Rail


The POSITIVE RAIL is on the top of the diagram.

The Positive Rail is connected to the Positive side of the D BATTERY.

The NEGATIVE RAIL is on the bottom of the diagram.

The Negative Rail is connected to the Negative side of the D Battery.

We can make our Power Supply Connections with Speaker wire & Duct Tape OR with Paperclips with Neodymium Magnets. We show both methods later in this tutorial.

Step 4: Power Supply Connectors (Paperclips OR Copper Wires Can Be Used)

We CONNECT a Paperclip from the Bottom Negative Rail to the 1st Rail.

This makes the 1st Rail Become NEGATIVE.

We then CONNECT a Paperclip from the Top Positive Rail to the 3rd Rail.

This makes the 3rd Rail Become POSITIVE.

Paperclips or Copper Wire can be used as Power supply connectors..

Either choice works very nicely.

Step 5: Cardboard Box With White Paper That Is Glued Down

We USE a Cardboard Box to be the Base of our Homemade Breadboard.

We CUT White Paper to FIT INSIDE the Cardboard Box.

We ELMER'S GLUE the White Paper into the Bottom of the Cardboard Box.

(It only takes a small amount of Glue around the Edges of the Paper, to hold the Paper in place nicely.

Step 6: USE 10 Large Paperclips

We USE 10 Large Paperclips.

Make sure that your Paperclips are not coated with plastic.

We USE Metal Paperclips, which are highly conductive and very strong.

Step 7: UNFOLD the Paperclips

We UNFOLD 10 Large Paperclips.

We LAY them out on the Cardboard.

As we can see, our Paperclips have some Bent Sections.

In the next step we will Straighten the Bent Sections of our Paperclips using Needle Nose Pliers.

Step 8: Straighten the Bent Sections of Each Paperclip - (optional)

A person might choose to straighten out the Paperclip Rails even more,

by applying pressure with Needle Nose Pliers to each of the Paperclip's Bent Sections.

It takes about 4 applications of pressure to straighten out each bent section.

This step is optional, but does provide a cleaner look to our circuits.

Step 9: Paperclip Rails BENT on Both Ends

We BEND Both Ends of each Paperclip.

We BEND about 1/8" at 90 degrees.

We BEND all 10 Paperclips in this way.

Step 10: Paperclip Rails BENT & Ready to Insert Into Cardboard

We LAY OUT the Bent Paperclips that we prepared.

We have a TOP RAIL, BOTTOM RAIL & 8 RAILS in the middle.

In the next step we will insert these bent Paperclips into the Cardboard.

Step 11: INSERT the Bent End of the Paperclip Rail Into the Cardboard

We INSERT the Paperclip Rail Ends into the Cardboard.

We REPEAT THIS for all 10 of the Large Paperclips.

Step 12: Paperclip Bent Ends INSERTED Into Cardboard & GLUED

We INSERT the Bent Ends of Each Paperclip into the Cardboard.

We SPACE out each Rail, about 1" apart. But, a person may choose to space it closer too.

We APPLY ELMER'S GLUE over each insertion location.

We USE a good amount of Elmer's glue, to create a good adhesion effect.

We WAIT 14+ Hours, for the Elmer's glue to dry!


We MAKE a VERY STRONG BOND, using the Elmer's glue.

Step 13: Paperclip Rails HELD in Place With the Elmer's Glue DRIED (14+ Hours)

We WAITED 14 hours for the Elmer's glue to dry.

The result is a very strong bond.

Our Paperclip Rails are permanent circuit platforms now.

Elmer's glue provides a VERY STRONG adhesion!

While we are waiting for the glue to dry, we can prepare more breadboards.

Step 14: Paperclip Ends Must Be Covered to Prevent Possible Injury

WARNING: Be Careful for the Exposed Paperclip Ends on the bottom of the box!


We can cover these Exposed Paperclip Ends using a variety of methods:

* 4 Layers of Duct Tape, with the Duct Tape Ends Elmer's Glued, to ensure the that Tape remains in place.

* A Cardboard Layer Cover which is Elmer's Glued, Hot Glued, or Stapled OVER the Exposed Paperclip Ends.

* Hot Glue OVER the Exposed Paperclip Ends

The Shorter the Ends, the less glue needed, but remember, that even a small amount of exposed Paperclip End represents a very serious risk to a person from possible puncture or scratch.

Step 15: Crimping Methods - Single Crimp Vs Double Crimp

We CRIMP Small Paperclips onto our Electronic Component Legs USING Needle Nose Pliers.

We call these CRIMPED Paperclip Connectors.

The Feet of these Paperclip Connectors are either SINGLE HOOK or DOUBLE HOOK.

Single Crimp Method is EASIER for Beginner, but, pieces are less secure and tilt.

Double Crimp Method is more ADVANCED, and takes longer to set up, but is VERY SECURE.

We show you how to achieve both methods.

Step 16: Single Crimp Method - Paperclip Connectors

The Single Crimp Method is very easy to create and to apply to the Rails of the Breadboard.

PROS: Easy to Make, Easy to Apply, Easy to Remove.
CONS: Allows Movement of Pieces, Pieces Tilt, Not as Secure, Requires Glue for Permanency.

The Single Crimp Method is very EASY for beginners, but is a LESS SECURE method.

The Double Crimp Method is HARDER for beginners, but is the MOST SECURE method.

We will Start First by Learning the Single Crimp Method and then we will learn the Double Crimp Method after.

Step 17: Paperclip CRIMPED Both Resistor Legs - Electronic Component Connectors

We CRIMP Paperclip Hook Shapes around both Resistor Legs.

We USE "small size" Paperclips, as oppose to the "large size" Paperclips.

In Summary:

For Electronic Component Connectors, we use Small Paperclips,

For Breadboard Rails we use Large Paperclips.

Step 18: Bend Paperclip 1/8" From End to Make Hook Shape

We UNFOLD a small Paperclip.

We BEND the small Paperclip about 1/8" from the end to form a Hook Shape.

This Hook Shape is what we will next crimp onto our Resistor legs.

Step 19: Paperclip HOOK SHAPE Is CRIMPED Around Both Resistor Legs

We CRIMP the Paperclip Hook Shape around both legs of the Resistor.

We HOLD the Resistor horizontally and allow the Hook Shape to hang.

We USE Needle Nose Pliers to CRIMP the Hook Shape around the Resistor Legs.

Remember, that we are using small Paperclips, as oppose to the Large size Paperclips.

Step 20: Paperclip Legs Are Bent Downward 90 Degrees

We BEND each of the Paperclip Legs downward 90 degrees.

We ISOLATE the Paperclip Leg with Needle Nose Pliers.

While ISOLATED, we BEND the Paperclip Leg downward, with our Hand.

Step 21: Paperclip Legs - Excess Is CUT

We CUT the excess length of the Paperclip Legs.

Each Paperclip Leg is CUT to about 1 1/2" inches long. (One and a half inches)

We BEND each Paperclip Leg about 1/4" from the End of the Paperclip.
This BEND creates a Hook Shape. Thus, we have two Hook Shapes now, for Each Leg of our Resistor.

This Resistor is now READY for our Breadboard Rails!

Step 22: Paperclip Hook Shapes POSITIONED Under 1st & 2nd Rails

We PLACE the Hook Shapes of our Resistor Legs, on the 1st Rail and the 2nd Rail.

We CRIMP these Hook Shapes, using Needle Nose Pliers.

Make sure to apply strong force when crimping these Hook Shapes to the Breadboard Rails.

Step 23: Resistor & LED Are CRIMPED in PLACE. Allow Them to Tilt.

We have CRIMPED our Resistor & LED onto our Paperclip Rails.

We ALLOW the Resistor & LED to TILT.

In this Tilted Position we will next use Elmer's glue, to hold the pieces in place permanently.

The Single Crimp Method is NOT as good, because it allows pieces to move around some.

The BEST Solution is to use the Double Crimp Method instead, which requires NO glue.

But, if using the Single Crimp Method, here are the steps for adding Elmer's Glue:

  • Add ELMER'S GLUE to the Paperclip Connector Legs of the Resistor.
  • We WAIT 14+ hours.
  • PLACE on a LEVEL surface that will not be disturbed.

Remember, it is best to USE the Double Crimp Method instead, to avoid having to use glue at all.

Step 24: Double Crimp Method - VERY STRONG & SECURE

We CRIMP 2 Points on each of the Paperclip Connectors.

We USE Needle Nose Pliers to Crimp each point one-at-a-time.

We do NOT squeeze as hard as possible, because that would exceed the limit of the paperclips durability.

This 2 Point Crimping Method prevents the Electronic Component from moving in any direction.

The Electronic Component will not slide around, nor will it tilt. IT IS SECURE.

Step 25: Double Crimp Method - VERY STRONG & SOLID Connections!

We UTILIZE a Different Method for Crimping Components, for a more Secure Connection.

We FOLD the Paperclip to achieve 4 Connection points.

We CRIMP each Connection point, one at a time with Needle Nose Pliers.

By Using Double Crimp Method NO GLUE IS NEEDED!

Our electronic components will be securely held in place.

The next steps walk you through how to achieve this Double Crimp Method.

Step 26: Double Crimp Applied - 4 Point Crimp

We USED Needle Nose Pliers to CRIMP each of the 4 Crimp Points, one-at-a-time.

By Crimping 4 Points, it provides a very strong connection in all directions.

Notice also, the Stabilizer Arms.

We will SHOW each step on how to FOLD the Paperclip to achieve this Double Crimp effect.

Step 27: Double Crimp Method - Step-by-Step

We UNFOLD Only one part of the Paperclip.

Step 28: Double Crimp Method - Bend the Bottom in Half

We BEND the Bottom of the Paperclip in half.

We USE Needle Nose Pliers in the middle of the looping part of the paperclip.

We FOLD the Loop on itself.

Step 29: Bend the Paperclip End

We FOLD the Bottom Double Section of the Paperclip.

Step 30: Bend a Hook at the End About 1/8"

We BEND the very end of the Paperclip at about 1/8" from the End, into a Hook.

This Hook will be Crimped onto the Electronic Component Leg.

Make sure you Bend the Hook Shape in the correct direction, as shown in the picture above.

Step 31: Position Paperclip Face Up BEFORE Making the CRIMP!

We POSITION the Paperclip as you see in the picture, face up.

In this way, we can later BEND the Paperclip toward the end at 90 Degrees.

Step 32: Double Crimp Method - Crimped to Component Leg

We POSITION our Hook Shape onto the Resistors Leg.

We will then USE Needle Nose Pliers to CRIMP the Hook Shape, as shown in the next step.

Step 33: Double Crimp Method - CRIMP TO COMPONENT LEG

We CRIMP the Hook Shape to the Components Leg USING Needle Nose Pliers.

We SQUEEZE the Needle Nose Pliers VERY HARD.

If you are very strong, do not squeeze as hard as possible, for that pressure would possibly exceed the durability of the Component Leg.

This is a very STRONG connection, both for mechanical strength and for conductivity.

Step 34: Double Crimp Method - BEND THE PAPERCLIP LEG at 90 Degrees Downward

We ISOLATE the Paperclip Leg NEAR the Crimp point.

We BEND the Paperclip Legs Downwards at 90 Degrees.

Our Resistor is now ready to apply to our Paperclip Rails.

Step 35: Double Crimp Applied to Rail & Crimped

We POSITION the Electronic Component Paperclip Connector Hook Shapes Under the Rails of the Breadboard.

We USE Needle Nose Pliers to CRIMP the Hook Shapes TOGETHER forming a SECURE Connection.

Step 36: Papercliptronics - the Science of Paperclip Crimping

Papercliptronics is designed for kids and adults.

By using Paperclips instead of Solder, we avoid the fumes!!!

Solder fumes are toxic and cause damage to humans.

I invented Paperclip Crimping to avoid the dangers of solder and the high costs of buying hundreds of Breadboards.

Papercliptronics is a permanent circuit design method as well as a prototyping environment.

Invented by Keystoner March of College of Scripting Music & Science.

Step 37: Make a Homemade Breadboard Using Paperclips - VERY STRONG & PERMANENT CIRCUIT DESIGN METHOD

WATCH the Video Tutorial here to Follow along step-by-step.

Step 38: LED Light Circuit - Papercliptronics Example

We MAKE an LED Light Circuit on our Paperclip Breadboard.

  • (1) 150 Ohm Resistor
  • (2) D Batteries
  • (1) Green LED
  • Speaker Wire for Battery Connection
  • Paperclips or Speaker Wire for Power Rail Connectors

We could use a 100 Ohm Resistor instead, but would be slightly overpowering the LED by 10 mA.

In the next step we will show you how to calculate the correct Resistor for your LED's.

Step 39: LED Current Calculation - CHOOSING THE CORRECT RESISTOR

The Green LED we are using wants a max current of 0.20 mA. (milli Amps)

If we use a 3 Volt Power Supply and a 150 Ohm Resistor, we will achieve this 0.20 mA.

We could choose to use a 100 Ohm Resistor, but would be overpowering the LED by 10 mA.

The LED won't be damaged right away by the extra 10 mA, but, it is being damaged and reducing the life of the component!

CHOOSING THE RIGHT RESISTOR for our 3 Volt Power Supply:

Current = Volts / Resistance
Amps = 3 Volts / 150 Ohms = 0.02 Amps
mA = 0.02 Amps X 1000
Current = 20 mA

Thus, the Correct Resistor to use for a 3 Volts Power Supply is a 150 Ohm Resistor.


When Converting from Amps to milli Amps, you don't have to multiply using a calculator.

Instead you can just move the decimal point three places to the right.

Thus, 0.02 Amps becomes, 20 mA.

Step 40: RESISTORS IN SERIES - Increases Total Resistance Value

What if we don't have a 150 Ohm Resistor?

That's okay. We can use multiple smaller Resistors together instead, to achieve the correct value.

We can place two 75 Ohm Resistors in Series and they will Add Together to become 150 Ohms.

The Series Formula for Resistors is very simple:

Resistor Total = Resistor1 + Resistor2 + ... ResistorN

(ResistorN means, however many Resistors you have, you add them all together with simple addition)

Step 41: RESISTORS in PARALLEL - Decreases Total Resistance Value - Formula for When ONLY 2 Resistors Used

What if we don't have two smaller value Resistors either, but instead, we have two larger size Resistors?

That's okay. We can use multiple bigger Resistors together instead, to achieve the correct value.

We can place two 300 Ohm Resistors in Parallel and they will Decrease the Total Resistance Value to become 150 Ohms.

The Parallel Formula for when ONLY 2 Resistors are used:

Resistor Total = (Resistor1 x Resistor2) / (Resistor1 + Resistor2)


Let's put our values in the formula:

Resistor Total = (300 x 300) / (300 + 300)

Resistor Total = 90,000 / 600

Resistor Total = 150 Ohm



The Parallel Formula for 3 or more Resistors IS DIFFERENT and will be shown in a moment.

Step 42: RESISTORS in PARALLEL - Decreases Total Resistance Value - Formula for When 3 or More Resistors Used

What if we only have 3 larger sized Resistors and we want the value to equal less, such as 100 Ohms?

The Parallel Formula for 3 or more Resistors:

1 / ResistorTotal = 1 / Resistor1 + 1 / Resistor 2 + 1 / Resistor3


Let's say we choose to use three 300 Ohm Resistors in Parallel.


Let's put our value of 300 Ohm in the formula:

1 / ResistorTotal = 1 / 300 + 1 / 300 + 1 / 300


We divide 1 by 300, for each of the values:

1 / 300 = 0.0033

1 / 300 = 0.0033

1 / 300 = 0.0033


We then add these values together:

0.0033 + 0.0033 + 0.0033 = 0.009933


And now, 1 Divided by 0.009933

1 / 0.009933 = 100.67


ResistanceTotal = 100.67 Ohms


The above might seem complicated, that is, until you do it on your calculator.

Let's walk through the steps on the calculator:

Step1: Press 1
Step 2: Press / division symbol

Step 3: Press 300

Step 4: Press = equal symbol

FirstAnswer: 0.009933 It is okay if your calculator only shows 0.0099. It is close enough for efficiency.

Step 5: Press 1

Step 6: Press / division symbol

Step 7: Press 0.009933

Step 8: Press = equal symbol

Answer: 100.67

Thus, if you use three 300 Ohm Resistors in Parallel, the total resistance value is 100.67 Ohm.

Step 43: Capacitor & LED Circuit - (FADES LED OUT)

When we REMOVE power from the Circuit, the LED will Turn Off Slowly.

The reason for this is simple: The Capacitor is Discharging (LED Turns Off Slowly).

We USE a 470 micro Farad Capacitor.

If we used a bigger capacitor, the FADE OUT time would INCREASE. (longer discharge time)

If we used a smaller capacitor, the FADE OUT time would DECREASE. (shorter discharge time)

Step 44: Capacitors in PARALLEL - INCREASES Capacitance Value

Step 45: Capacitors in SERIES - DECREASES Capacitance Value - Formula When Only 2 Capacitors Used

Step 46: Capacitors in SERIES - DECREASES Capacitance Value - Formula When 3 or More Used

Step 47: Transistor CRIMPED With Paperclips & Bent Into Hook Shapes for Rails

We CRIMP Paperclips around each Leg of the Transistor.

We BEND the End of those Paperclips into Hook Shapes.

We CONNECT those Hook Shapes to the Paperclip Rails.


Step 48: Light Detector Circuit- Papercliptronics Example

We MAKE a Light Detector Circuit using:

  • 150 Ohm Resistor- for the LED
  • 120 Ohm Resistor OR 8.2 kOhm Resistor - Base of Transistor
  • pnp 3906 Transistor
  • LDR (Light Dependent Resistor)
  • LED
  • 2 D Batteries
  • Speaker Wire Connectors
  • Paperclip Connectors

Step 49: Light Detector Circuit VIDEO

CLICK to WATCH the Video to SEE the Light Detector Circuit in action.

Step 50: Dark Detector Circuit - Papercliptronics Example (Night Light)

We MAKE a Dark Detector Circuit using:

  • 100 Ohm Resistor
  • 8.2 kOhm Resistor
  • npn 3904 Transistor
  • LDR (Light Dependent Resistor)
  • LED
  • 2 D Batteries
  • Speaker Wire Connectors
  • Paperclip Connectors

Step 51: Dark Detector Circuit VIDEO - Known Also As a Night Light

WATCH the Video Here to SEE the Dark Detector Circuit.

Step 52: Water Detector Circuit - Papercliptronics Example - Works As Touch Sensor As Well

We MAKE a Water Detector Circuit using:

  • 270 Ohm Resistor
  • 1 kOhm Resistor
  • npn 3904 Transistor
  • 2 D Batteries
  • LED
  • Speaker Wire Connectors
  • Paperclip Connectors

This circuit will also sense when a human touches both of the leads.

Step 53: Water Detector Circuit VIDEO

WATCH the Video Here to SEE the Water Detector Circuit.

Step 54: Dual LED Blinking Circuit - Papercliptronics Example

We MAKE a Dual LED Blinking Circuit using:

  • (2) pnp 3906 Transistors
  • (2) 180 Ohm Resistors
  • (2) 100 kOhm Resistors
  • (2) 470 uF Capacitors
  • (2) LED's
  • (2) D Batteries
  • Speaker Wire
  • Paperclips

Step 55: Dual LED Blinking Circuit VIDEO

WATCH the VIDEO to SEE how the Dual LED Blinking Circuit works.

Step 56: Battery Without Magnets Becomes Glitchy - Use Magnet Method INSTEAD!

If Magnets are NOT available, we can alternatively use Duct Tape to hold the Battery Connections.

But, Copper Wire, held with Duct Tape, for Battery Connections, is NOT VERY GOOD!

As the Duct Tape starts to give, the connection becomes inefficient.



A Strong and Reliable Power Connection can be achieved using a

Small Cylindrical Neodymium Magnet in the Middle of the 2 D Batteries.

We place one magnet, in between the two D batteries to keep them together, from the positive of one, to the negative of the other. Even better, is to have 2 more magnets, one on each end of the batteries.

This creates a very solid connection for our Paperclip Battery Connectors and by creating this reliable connection we are able to know that our circuits are in fact receiving CONSISTANT & RELIABLE CURRENT.

Remember too, that we can reuse our Magnet Connected Batteries very easily to any of our circuits.

It is very useful to invest a couple of dollars in some cylindrical neodymium magnets!

Step 57: Switch - Using Magnet (Neodymium)

We ADD a small Paperclip Rail to our Breadboard.

We PLACE our Positive Power Supply Connection onto this new small Paperclip Rail.

We POSITION a normal Paperclip under the small Paperclip Rail.

We USE a Neodymium Magnet on the Positive Rail to MAKE the Connection.

Thus, the power now goes from the small Rail to the Positive Rail at the top, from our new Switch.

NOTE: We used Electrical Tape to hold down our new small Rail. Electrical Tape is very good for temporary designs, but we can also add Elmer's Glue around the edges of the tape to make it more permanent.

Step 58: Tools

Tools Used:

  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Shears (Heavy Duty)
  • Wire Strippers (Light Duty)
  • Flush Cutters

Step 59: Materials Required


  • Cardboard Box
  • 10 Large Paperclips
  • 4 Small Paperclips
  • Elmer's Glue-All
  • Duct Tape
  • 2 D Batteries
  • 1 Resistor 100 Ohms
  • 1 LED


We can now make hundreds and hundreds of electronic circuits for pennies!

Paperclip Crimping is a Safe Alternative to Solder, because there are no fumes or heat.

However, here is a list of things to keep in mind.


When you make the breadboard by inserting Paperclip Ends into the Cardboard, the bottom of the box will have many Paperclip Ends exposed, and therefore, should be considered as sharp and dangerous.

These exposed Paper Clip Ends Need to be covered. A person may choose to place multiple layers of Duct Tape over the exposed Paperclip Ends, and then Elmer's Glue the Duct Tape Ends to keep the Duct Tape in place.

OR Alternatively, a person can use Hot Glue to cover the ends.

Also, if a person bends the Paperclip Ends less, it will expose less of the Ends on the bottom.

We might choose also to Elmer's Glue, or Hot Glue, another piece of cardboard, underneath our breadboard, to Cover over the Paperclip Ends that are exposed.


  • Adult Supervision is recommended, when cutting Paperclip Connector Legs.
  • Make sure to cut the Paperclips in a straight line, other wise a diagonal sharp-piece would result.
  • Adult Supervision is recommended, for these are small pieces, and therefore represent a choking hazard.
  • Be Careful for any of the sharp Speaker Wire Ends, for they represent a puncture danger.
  • If using Hot Glue, instead of Elmer's Glue, BE VERY CAREFUL for Fumes and Heat.

Hot Glue is non-toxic, but even so, make sure that you have extremely good ventilation, such as a strong fan near a window. In addition, make sure to be extremely careful from the HEAT of the Hot Glue Gun Tip!


The longer you allow the Elmer's Glue to Dry the STRONGER the Bond will be. But, if a piece is moved before the drying is complete, then the bond will not be as secure.



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