How to prepare the Veroboard

Veroboard comes in standard sizes; the SMSReader is built on a board 39 tracks wide with 40 holes per track. If you cannot buy a piece of exactly this size, you will need to buy a larger piece and cut it down.

Scoring and snapping

Grab a very sharp craft knife and a ruler. On the track side of the board, count 40 complete holes along a track, then place the ruler perpendicular to the tracks on the next hole along (i.e. the 41st hole).

The idea is that we are going to score across the board through the holes, then snap the Veroboard in two. If you've scored it properly, you should get a clean break. It's best to score through the holes, because the board breaks easier that way - think of tearing a postage stamp from a sheet, for example.

So, using the ruler as a guide, take your knife and score perpendicular to the tracks through the 41st row of holes. Do it two or three times, so the cut has some depth to it.

Now turn the board over, and repeat the operation in exactly the same place on the component side.

Pick up the board and snap it with both hands, keeping your fingers close to the score mark on either side - it should break evenly, leaving you with two rectangular pieces.

Now (if the board is too wide) do the same thing again, but along the tracks. Count 39 tracks from the edge, then lay your ruler along the 40th track and score through the holes on that track. Do the same on the other side, then snap.

If all went well, you should now have a piece of Veroboard of the correct size - 39 tracks by 40 holes.

Numbering the tracks and holes

Place the Veroboard track side down on a piece of paper. Draw around it; then, starting from the top right, number the holes from 1 to 40, and letter the tracks from A to Z then AA to AM, exactly like this:

Component Side

This is to identify the holes during the building process. Obviously, when looking at the track side, the lettering will be reversed...

Track side

...so make sure you get it right! By laying the board down (component side up) on the paper, you'll be able to find a hole by reading off the row number and track letter corresponding to it.

Inspect the tracks

Very occasionally, a piece of Veroboard will have defects such as small splashes of copper bridging adjacent tracks. Inspect the board carefully to make sure there are no such bridges. If you do find one, run your knife between the tracks in order to cut it.

Cutting tracks

During the building process, you will need to cut tracks in order to break connections at certain points. You do this by placing your track cutter or drill bit in the appropriate hole on the track side of the board, and gently rotating it clockwise until all of the copper has been removed from around the hole. Grab a scrap piece of Veroboard and practise this operation. Here are some examples:

1. WRONG!

Not enough copper has been removed from the hole - a small sliver remains on the left-hand side, so the electrical connection has not been broken. Make absolutely sure that you remove all the copper from around the hole.

2. WRONG!

This hole has been drilled too far, taking chunks out of neighbouring holes and compromising the structural integrity of the board. Only drill as far as you need to remove all the copper, and no further.

3. RIGHT!

This is the correct way to do it.


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