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headers and sockets for pcbs?

Discussion in 'Electronic Components' started by Thomas P. Gootee, Aug 1, 2004.

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  1. I am re-designing some pcbs, to make the equipment they're in easier
    to manufacture, and service or upgrade.

    The pcbs currently have quite a few wires that are soldered directly
    to them, that go to front-panel controls (and to other pcbs).

    The wires to all of the front-panel controls are also soldered
    directly to the solder lugs of the controls (switches, pots, etc).

    To make manufacturing and service/maintenance/upgrading faster and
    easier, I think that ALL of the wire connections to the pcbs should
    use removable connectors, such as pin headers on the boards and crimp
    sockets on the wires. Also, where desirable and logical, I think that
    sets of multiple individual wires should be replaced with ribbon
    cables, with appropriate headers and sockets.

    To make this possible, I think that I will have to re-design the front
    panel controls, to use a pcb behind the front panel, changing all of
    the controls from solder-lug types to pcb-mount types. That way, I can
    use headers, sockets, ribbon cables, etc, to connect the existing pcbs
    to the front panel controls (via headers on the new
    front-panel-interface pcb).

    Here's where I would like some help:

    I am not very familiar with the vast majority of the myriad different
    types of wire-to-board (and board-to-board) connector systems that are
    available. There seem to be *zillions* of different ones. And the
    catalogs, and even the manufacturers' websites, seem to assume that I
    already know how they're assembled and installed, etc. But THAT'S what
    I'm trying to find out, so I can decide which ones would be convenient
    and cost-effective to put into the design.

    So: Does anybody have any "favorite" makes and models of wire-to-board
    (or board-to-board) connectors? (They need to be able to handle at
    least 1.5 Amps and up to at least 15 V DC. And they need to be easy
    and cheap to assemble.) Or any least favorites?

    What I was also HOPING to find was someplace that sells ready-made
    ribbon-cable types of assemblies, in short lengths (4 to 6 inches),
    with versions having 2, 4, and 6 conductors, with connectors already
    installed on both ends. I have looked long and hard and can only find
    standard computer-type cables that are ready-made (i.e. either way too
    many conductors, or way too long).



    Tom Gootee

  2. Ryan Wheeler

    Ryan Wheeler Guest

    look at MOLEX or AMP
  3. Gee... THANKS!!!

    I *HAVE* been looking at them, for quite some time. Too long of a

    I realize that beggars can't be choosers. But I was hoping for
    something just a LITTLE more-specific than THAT.

    But thanks for at least replying.


    Tom Gootee

  4. It really does depend massively on the 'nature' of your front panel. You
    are doing a balancing act between tooling cost on the front panel, and
    assembly costs, and the changeover point, will depend on the quantities
    involved, and the actual parts used on the front panel. As an example, I
    had a panel, which had a keypad, LCD, some seperate buttons, and a single
    pot. For genuinely 'mass' production, it was cheaper to get rid of the pot
    completely, change the main electronics to use a computer controlled pot,
    then have a flexible PCB made for the front panel, with direct connection
    to the LCD, and the key matrix all built onto one board, with a couple of
    new buttons to adjust the digital pot. The connection then became a matter
    of using a single strip connector, that goes directly to such flexible
    boards. Manufacturers like Molex, and AMP, provide most connector families
    you ae likely to need. You need to work out the best way of laying out the
    front panel, and the number of connections you need. Then the design you
    have chosen here, will 'set' the nature of the plugs you need. The reason
    for no specific replies, is that you have not presented enough data to
    make anything 'better' really possible...

    Best Wishes
  5. Roger,

    Thanks for responding!

    I am planning to probably just have a ribbon cable or multi-wire
    socket or header on each pcb, to connect them each to the front
    panel's new pcb (i.e. to another socket or header, there), and then
    route traces from the sockets or headers to the appropriate control
    and i/o connectors.

    In this case, while it MAY eventually be truly mass-produced by
    another company, right now it will be produced in relatively small
    quantities (just in the hundreds per year, probably). BUT, it will
    ALSO still be made available as a KIT version. So I "have" to try to
    keep it simple and easy to construct, especially since one of the kit
    options that I would LIKE to continue to offer (but don't care too
    much if I can't) is an even-lower-cost version of the kit that
    includes do-it-yourself PCBs (i.e. blank boards, iron-on patterns,
    etchant, etc).

    So, in this case, I will be using a plain single-sided standard PCB,
    which will be almost the size of the front panel, and will be parallel
    to and just behind the panel. The front-panel controls include only
    rotary switches, pots, mini-toggle switches, and an LED, all of which
    also come in versions with PCB-pin connectors instead of solder lugs.

    On the front panel, there are two 2P6T rotary switches, a 1P12T
    rotary, two 4P3T rotaries, 2 pots, and 6 SPDT toggle switches, plus an
    LED, and i/o connectors, including 5 BNC, three banana jacks, and an
    8-pin transistor socket. But there are three different PCBs that
    everything connects to (only certain things connect to each pcb). I
    also want to use plug and socket connectors for the power and ground
    distribution, from the power supply board to the two other boards, and
    to power-supply outputs (banana), on the rear panel.

    I am planning to probably just have ribbon cable or multi-wire
    socket(s) or header(s) on each pcb, to connect them each to the front
    panel's new pcb's sockets or headers, and then route traces to the
    appropriate control or i/o connectors.

    It looks like the Molex KK line, or something similar, might work
    well, for this, using a separate wire for each pin. But their
    flex-cable (ribbon-like) jumpers, or something like them, look
    attractive, too, if appropriate connectors are installed on both ends.

    BUT, what I had **HOPED** to find available was ribbon-cable-type, or
    similar but multi-discrete-wire-type, **ASSEMBLIES**, that already had
    the connectors installed on both ends. I guess that that was too much
    to hope for.

    One other option that I can think of is card-edge ribbon-cable
    connections, since it would be pretty easy for me to put in traces to
    match them, and cut slots for the connectors to fit into the edges of
    all of the boards. But, again, the fewer steps that are involved in
    the production process, the better. However, if I could find
    pre-assembled card-edge-connector ribbon cables with a reasonable
    number of conductors and enough current-carrying capacity, that might
    not be a bad way to go.

  6. For your application, look at simple 0.05" pitch IDC ribbon connectors.
    These are the connectors used on the IDE hard drives etc.. The cables can
    be made any length you want. If you have noise considerations, 'twist and
    flat' versions of the cable, and shielded cables are available. Relative
    to most similar connectors, they are cheap, and reliable.

    Best Wishes
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