Breadboards and breadboard accessories are used for testing and prototyping small electronic circuits. Electronic breadboards are plastic blocks that have a pattern of holes into which experimenters can insert electronic components, mounts, and connectors. Solderless breadboards (SBBs) have spring clips under the holes in the plastic to hold electrical contacts. A breadboard circuit on a solderless breadboard can be modified easily. A solderless breadboard can be mounted on a plate or case with other accessories. Two major types of breadboards are surface mount (SMT) and Manhattan-style. Breadboard accessories include wiring kits, connectors, pins, spacers, wire insertion tools, test sockets, test probe tips, card racks, power supplies, and pulse generators.
Breadboards and breadboard accessories can be general purpose or can be compatible with computer systems such as Apple or IBM, or with standard computer busses, such as compact peripheral component interconnect (cPCI), peripheral component interconnect (PCI), PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation (PXI), simple-to-design or simple-to-debug (STD), and VersaModule Eurocard (VME). Breadboards and accessories can be designed for surface mount (SMT) devices or leaded devices. Breadboards and accessories are distinguished by size, number of tie-points, and number of busses. Specialized breadboards and accessories support prototyping of high-frequency, mixed logic circuits.
An optical breadboard (also called an optical table or optics bench) is used for experiments with light and for prototyping optical circuits, where the position and alignment of each component must be accurate to within a fraction of a wavelength. This requires an exceptionally well-built table that is vibration-free and dimensionally stable. Optical tables have a honeycomb interior for strength and rigidity. Optical tables with vibration-damping features reduce the amplitude of the table's natural resonance peaks and the vibrations caused by dropped objects or rotating machinery. The table legs can minimize vibration through pneumatic dampening. The holes are threaded so that components can be attached in precise positions. To prevent air movement and temperature changes over the table top, a flowbox (a box of transparent plastic) can be mounted over the table to create a steady stream of conditioned air flowing down over the table surface. When mounted securely on an optical table, a honeycomb breadboard (available in sizes up to 150 cm X 200 cm) can increase the available working surface. Breadboards and accessories for optical tables include optical mounts, lens and filter holders, stages, stage tracks, rails, and fiber aligners.