Good Bends and Bad Bends
Free-form or “dead bug” construction can be great in a pinch. It’s a little tricky to get it right, though. One thing to consider is proper bending. If you completely flatten the pins on a DIP package it will look nice and neat, but the bend will happen at a place that was bent before. It’s going to break. Look at the arrow, you can see a tiny bit of metal peeking out of the chip where a pin broke off.
Now if you only bend up to the shoulder of the pin you’ll be bending fresh metal. It won’t break as easily and is nice and springy.
Of course fragility and breaking are a major part of free-form circuits. There’s no way to make anything really strong with this technique, so if there’s time make real circuit boards.
Oh, and when you’re done cover it in hot glue. Just go crazy. This actually does a pretty good job of keeping everything together, and is mostly waterproof too!