Blue Board #01

Prototyping Playground for SMD and TH Components

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For prototyping and one-off projects with both SMT and through-hole components. With clever features such as square pads, staggered holes and footprints that work for a wide variety of parts, it allows experimenters to iterate quickly without needing to wait for PCB manufacture, juggle breakout boards, or deal with the sub-standard electrical characteristics of a solderless breadboard.

BlueBoard#01 is...

A 100mm by 100mm board that's for prototyping and one-off projects that use SMT and through-hole components. 

BlueBoard #01
An earlier prototype


  • 19 standard footprints
    • 2 x 1.27mm pitch footprints (10 pads, 28 pads)
    • 1 x 0.65mm and 0.635mm dual-pitch footprint (28 pads).
    • 1 x 0.5mm pitch footprint. (10 pads)
    • 6 x SOT23-6, 3 x SOT23-8 and 4 x SC70-6 footprints
  • More than 1000 square pads with 0.1" spacing and plated through holes
    • Easy mounting of all two terminal SMT parts, and many three and four terminal parts, too.
    • Terminal and bus strips reduce the need for additional wiring.
    • Compatible with through-hole parts. Use your existing collection of resistors and caps where appropriate.
    • Staggered holes reliably hold 0.1” header pins and MCU development boards without solder.
  • Two special footprints
    • A 24-VQFN 4x4, 0.5mm pitch footprint compatible with a wide range microcontrollers.
    • Knowles SPU0410LR5H-QB-7 MEMS analog microphone.
  • Attention to detail:
    • Standard 1.6mm thick board for ease of handling.
    • ENIG finish for best possible soldering surface. Also, it looks great with the blue soldermask.
    • M3 mounting holes for standoffs or screws.
    • Footprints identified on board to simplify assembly.
    • Inspirational quotes from Harry Lythall and Randy Pausch printed on the reverse.
    • Comprehensive documentation including printable planning sheets.

Footprint Compatibility

SMT parts come in a huge variety of package shapes and sizes, however many of them share pin pitches. With care and attention, it’s possible to have a single footprint that can be used to mount many different types of packages, and this is the approach BlueBoard#01 takes.

The following table shows the dimensions of each footprint on the board, along with common compatible package names and examples of compatible parts.

Remember to always check the package drawing in the datasheet to verify that the part will fit. In particular, check:

  • the pitch of pads (distance between pads),
  • the number of pads (a 32 pin part won’t fit on a 28 pin footprint, but a 14 pin part will.)
  • the width of the package - check that the part of the pins that makes contact with the footprint are far enough apart to reach the pads, and not so far apart that they overhang the pads.
  • if the part has an exposed pad, it won’t contact the signal pads.
  • checking is less important for the SOT23-6, SOT23-8 and SC70-6 packages which are better  standardised.


Common package names

Example compatible parts

1.27mm 28 pad








AD674BBRZ 12-bit ADC

NCV7708BDWR2G Hex Half-bridge Driver

CD4514BM96 4bit latch, 4:16 decoder

0.65 / 0.635mm 28 pad






AS1130 LED Dot Matrix Driver

LTC1450CG#PBF 12-bit DAC

0.5mm 10 pad





74LVCH2T45DC,125 Voltage Level Translator

AD5161BRMZ10-RL7 SPI Digital Pot

MAX4327EUB+T 5MHz RRO Op Amp



MAX6846KARD3+T Battery Monitor

TPL0501-100DCNR Digital Pot












+ many more

DMN65D8L-7 N-CH Mosfet

BZX84-A12,215 Zener Diode

MCP6001 Op Amp

MCP1640 Boost Regulator TLV271SN2T1G Op Amp 3MHZ RRO






MCP6001 Op Amp

NTJD5121NT1G Dual N-Ch Mosfet


24-VQFN 4x4 0.5mm Pitch


See section below.



See section below.

The 24-VQFN Footprint

The 24-VQFN footprint supports a wide range of 8, 16 and 32 bit microcontrollers (Digikey search) as well as audio amplifiers, DACs, ADCs, digital switches, LED drivers, half bridges and more.

This footprint is for a 4mm x 4mm package, with leads at 0.5mm pitch and an exposed pad. The exposed pad is not thermally connected to a large plane, but that should not present a problem for most uses. The package dimensions are...

Read more »


Planning sheets for medium and complex layouts.

Adobe Portable Document Format - 245.44 kB - 06/22/2019 at 03:59


  • Updated Planning Sheets

    Alan Green06/22/2019 at 04:10 0 comments

    I've uploaded new planning sheets with space to write the project name and date.

    Planning sheets

    Files are here.

  • Happy Clap Switch An Example Project

    Alan Green06/01/2019 at 06:25 0 comments

    #Happy Clap Switch is a project that uses BlueBoard#01. It shows off a couple of construction techniques, such as drilling out holes to mount rotary encoders, and serves as a bit of a counter-example in planning - all those wires really ought to be on the underside.

  • Guide to Surface Mount Prototyping with BlueBoard #01

    Alan Green04/20/2019 at 03:17 0 comments

    #1 Read all the great tutorials

    There are lots of great surface mount soldering tutorials around the internet. I like these ones from Sparkfun and the format makes it easy to find and refer back to. Dave Jones's videos, on his EEVblog channel, are fantastic too.

    #2 Get the right Equipment

    For basic surface mount soldering you will need:

    1. A temperature controlled soldering iron with a chisel tip 2-4mm wide. Conical tips are useful in specific situations, but they can’t push heat or drag solder as well as a chisel tip.
    2. 0.5mm or thinner solder wire. Thinner wire gives you more control over how much solder is applied to any point. You will want all the control you can get.
    3. Extra flux. Most commonly used is a flux pen, but I use Chipquick tack flux because it’s easy to apply in a controlled manner, will hold small components in place, does the job of a flux well, and cleans up nicely with IPA.
    4. Tweezers for holding smt components. I use a cheap pair with ceramic tips, similar to these. The ceramic tips ensure the package I am soldering stays hot and my hands stay cool.
    5. Magnification. A good headband visor works in most situations.
    6. Thin desoldering braid. You will use this regularly. The thinner the braid, the more accurate you can be mopping up excess solder.

    If you’ve already been soldering through-hole components you likely have most of those things already..

    Additionally, I find these items helpful:

    1. Isopropyl alcohol (aka IPA). Cleans flux magically. I wipe my tweezers down with it every time they get sticky from flux.
    2. Small paint brush for cleaning flux off boards.
    3. Chipquik for desoldering surface-mount components with a soldering iron. Having a little Chipquik around means that you can be braver. If you mess up, the chipquik allows you to remove a component without damage.
    4. A hot air rework station. Useful on its own for reseating components by reflowing solder on all their pins simultaneously.
    5. Solder paste if soldering with the hot air rework station. Some people prefer this when soldering a whole bunch of surface mount components at once.
    6. A binocular microscope. A 5-10x microscope will show lots of detail and help you more quickly learn how solder flows and the best way to apply it. It will also help you spot mistakes such as solder bridges or unsoldered pins.

    #3 Solder One Pin First

    Of all the advice I've received, this has been the most helpful. When hand soldering surface-mount parts, always solder a single pin first and check the alignment of the component. If you’re happy with the alignment, continue soldering the other pins. If not, heat the joint back up and move the package around.

    This applies to everything from large 28 pin packages through to tiny resistors.

    #4 Plan Your Circuit

    Prototyping is about trying new things, but it's always best to start with a plan. Draw your schematic in your favorite schematic capture tool first. 

    For any circuit larger than a couple of components, it might be helpful to print these planning sheets. I draw on them in erasable pen, and there are plenty of erasures before I'm done.

    #5 Be Unafraid of Making Mistakes

    Making and fixing mistakes is how one learns to solder. Be patient with and forgiving of yourself. Buy cheap components in quantity and don’t worry about throwing one away.

    Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.

    -- Randy Pausch

  • A Note on the 0.65mm / 0.635mm Footprint

    Alan Green04/19/2019 at 23:20 0 comments

    I've chosen to use use a single footprint for both 0.65mm and 0.635mm pitch parts.

    0.65mm and 0.635mm differ by only 15 microns. That's not much.

    If one were to try to mount a 28 pin 0.65mm pitch package on a 0.635mm pitch footprint or vice versa, the maximum misalignment (measured over the 7 pins from the middle of the package to the end) would be less than 100 microns - about half a leg width. Using wide pads, positioned midway between the 0.65 and 0.635mm pitch (0.6425mm) we can accommodate a part in either package.

  • A Note on Exposed Pads

    Alan Green04/19/2019 at 23:16 0 comments

    Some dual inline package parts have an exposed pad, which is used as a heatsink for the part. This is particularly common for parts that drive large currents (example). However, because of the variety of widths parts come in, and how that means the pads have to be arranged,  I’ve chosen not to add an exposed pad to the footprints on BlueBoard#01.

    There are several alternatives:

    1. Cover the exposed pad with kapton tape and solder it anyway. You won't get the same thermal performance, but it might be enough for your prototype.
    2. See if you can find an alternative footprint for the part that doesn't use and exposed pad. The LM25085, for example comes in several packages, one of which doesn't use an exposed pad.

    Please let me know if you were unable to use BlueBoard#01 for your project because you needed to use a particular part with an exposed pad, but were unable to.

  • Why Does The World Need BlueBoard #01?

    Alan Green04/19/2019 at 22:58 0 comments

    Using BlueBoard#01 to prototype with surface mount components is often faster than the the two main alternatives.

    Alternative 1: Custom PCBs

    Getting started a BlueBoard#01 that you happen to have hand is certainly faster than having a prototype PCB manufactured. This is why we sell them in stacks.

    BlueBoard #01 then makes it simple to remove, replace and experiment with components and circuits. Iteration is fast.

    Fixing mistakes is much simpler than with a custom PCB: no need to scrape back soldermask from a track, or try to wire to the middle pin of a 0.5mm pitch 10-MSOP.

    Alternative 2: Solderless Breadboards

    If you have more than a couple of SMT components, solderless breadboards can be difficult to work with.

    Noise and inductance can be particular problems around analog devices, oscillators and switch mode power supplies. All of these types of circuits go better when the components are securely connected with as short a path as possible between points. Having connections you can trust makes everything go faster because there's less debugging of unimportant problems.

    I also find that dealing with more than a few breakout boards is annoying. Mounting components to a breakout board is more difficult than mounting to a larger PCB.

    In summary

    BlueBoard #01 brings some of the features of solderless breadboard to surface-mount prototyping in an environment that is faster to get going with than and electrically similar to a finished PCB.

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Enjoy this project?



Sean wrote 12/19/2022 at 17:15 point

Thanks for sharing this project. Are you forced to use ENIG due to the fine pitch, particularly with 0.643" pitch pads?

  Are you sure? yes | no

carbono.silício wrote 08/19/2019 at 06:04 point

Very nice looking tight square pads on blue blackground. Wish I could have boards like these! 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alan Green wrote 06/25/2019 at 12:32 point

I have had success doing the simple thing: coupling the microphone output through a capacitor to an inverting op-amp setup. There's an example here:

One thing to keep in mind: it's easy to have too much gain and swamp the ADC's range. This is especially the case when operating a circuit on 1.8V, as the microphone outputs the same levels, no matter whether it is supplied from 1.5V or 3.6V.

I encourage you to experiment. MEMS microphones are fun!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Simon Merrett wrote 06/22/2019 at 06:26 point

So cool that you have included the MEMS microphone footprint. Do you have a favourite way of connecting that microphone's output to your ADC? I get the impression that you have used a few of these. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

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