Button, switch and breadboard tips, now with pics!


Can anyone tell me if this is the correct step in starting the first button on the breadboard for the power plant level? My daughter is having trouble with this, after not being able to work on it for a while due to school and other activities, so I wanted to know what might be wrong with her placement of the wires or button. Any advice whenever someone happens to read this, I would really appreciate it. Thanks!


Is this the correct positioning of the first button on the breadboard for the power plant level? My daughter seems to think so, but the battery pack shut down, and we were arguing about this, so I decided to take a picture to see what advice might be on here about the placement. Thanks!


That sure looks like Alex’s first attempt. He now has his first switch all the way to the left edge so that the others can fit as seen in my last picture.

You can see a close-up of all 4 switches in the picture labeled “Small pushbuttons.jpg”. It actually doesn’t matter where you put things in a breadboard as long as you pay attention to the rows of 5 holes. You can see that no switch shares another switches row of 5 and that there is only one jumper in any given row of 5. This means that her first switch is just fine where it is but she will have to find room and a pattern that makes sense to her to fit the others in. She could even have 2 on one breadboard and the other 2 on the other.



@lasermike, thanks so much for the help and advice! I feel so bad that I was arguing with her about this. I need to learn to trust her instincts more! I will tell her sometime this week when she is back to working on it, that the placement of her first button is fine, but like you said, she will need to find a pattern so that no switch shares another switch row of five and that there is only one jumper in any given row of five. I really am not clear what that really means, but my daughter really likes patterns, so maybe she can figure it out. Thanks so much and I will let everyone know if it works or not!


Hi @Camicazi
Here is a link to a Sparkfun article on breadboards. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I think in this case it’s true.

You can get more of those little breadboards so she can put a switch on each or you could get a ginormous one and put everything on it at once. That’s the beauty of breadboards, they’re reusable and almost infinitely rearrangeable.

The buttons and switches are easily replaced if one is damaged or just doesn’t seem to work right. Here is a link to a set of 12 colored buttons for $4.99 that are nearly identical to the ones that come with the Piper. These aren’t the only ones but they are cheap and specifically say breadboard friendly! They can also be used to replace the tiny push buttons if you want. Here is a link to some slide switches that can replace the ones that came with the Piper.

If Camicazi is interested in the electronic hardware side of the Piper, you can check out this Amazon search for “electronic lab kit”. I currently have the Elenco 300 in 1 and use it to test out circuits. Alex has built a circuit or two using the supplied manual but shown no further interest. If she is more interested in the software side, I’d be of little use! :wink:



Thanks so much, @lasermike! She has been enjoying using her Piper and it’s electronic components when she has the chance! I will keep this post in mind for future reference!


Hi to all of you, I know I am posting a year later but I found the conversation very relevant and I am not sure I should open a totally new thread on an old topic.
Everything seems to be working BUT we can’t get the buttons to stick in the breadboard. I mean during gameplay the buttons stick to sticky fingers and come off the breadboard… Is it really like @lasermike earlier wrote that we have to straighten the little arched legs of the buttons before sticking them in the breadboard? I don’t want to do any real damage… :blush:
Thanks for all help.


Hi @torababi,

If the legs are still arched, they should fit more than snug in the breadboard holes if you push down hard enough to seat them. When seated properly, they should be somewhat difficult to remove (but may loosen with use over time).


  • Jordan


Hi @torababi.
My goodness, it’s been a long time since I last posted!

The leads on the switches need to be long enough to get “pinched” by the metal contacts down inside the breadboard. If they are still arched, they may make enough contact to work electrically but may not be long enough to stay in place. The funny shape of the leads is intended to keep the switch in place during automated assembly and soldering.

Look at the third picture down in this Adafruit article about breadboards. Component leads pushed into the breadboard are “pinched” by the metal clips with enough force that you should be able to pick the breadboard up using a LED as a handle. The plastic housing of the breadboard acts as a guide and insulator and has little to no effect on retaining components.

You can straighten the switch leads by using a small pair of pliers or tweezers to squeeze them flat but they are so soft that you can also use your fingernails to flatten them. Just don’t flex them back and forth too much, they will break off. It’s not the end of the world if they do, replacements are cheap or short wires can be soldered on to repair them.



Super! Thanks a lot to @jordan and @lasermike !!
I am waiting for the little guy to come back from scout camp in a couple of hours then we’ll try it out!
Happy new year!