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pins, cables

Discussion in 'Misc Electronics' started by Allan Adler, Nov 10, 2007.

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  1. Allan Adler

    Allan Adler Guest

    I have various devices that have exposed pins or holes for pins. I'd
    like to examine the states of these pins/holes by connecting wires
    between them and a solderless breadboard. Typical examples include
    pins on MIDI ports, D15 game ports, D25 printer ports, etc. If I get
    anywhere doing that, I'll also want to try connect some ports to other
    ports by cables, maybe of my own design. I can't assume that the precise
    cables I need will be readily available, so I need convenient ways to make
    a lot of different kinds of cables. I also need to keep this cheap, but
    I don't do ebay.

    What can I use for examining individual pins/holes (e.g. a "single pin plug",
    if that exists)? How can I develop the capability of cheaply and conveniently
    making lots of different kinds of cables, or remaking them? Where can
    I get this stuff dirt cheap? I keep an eye out for discarded electronics,
    but I rarely see the kinds of cables I'm interested in. The only exception
    was a printer cable that was discarded with its printer.
  2. You can get loose connectors of many types from Digikey, Mouser and
    other electronic suppliers - and even Radio Shack should have a
    limited selection. The same sources will also have a wide selection
    of bulk cable.

    Some connector families are available with insertable contacts,
    intended to be crimped on the cable, then inserted into the connector
    body. I use these contacts to make single contact test leads.

    Peter Bennett, VE7CEI
    peterbb4 (at)
    new newsgroup users info :
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  3. But unless things have changed in recent years, most connectors are
    available in a form that can be soldered to. Certainly any "DB" type

    Or just buy a cable, cut off the other and, and use the wires to
    "break out" the connections.

  4. Allan Adler

    Allan Adler Guest

    Is it basically cheaper to walk in to a Radio Shack and buy a few
    components of various types or to order from certain online suppliers?

    One problem I have with a wide selection is that I'm not really knowledgeable
    about what all the choices mean that I have to select from, even if I feel
    in my gut that there must be something wrong with the choices at Radio Shack.
    Thanks very much for this remark. It is very helpful to learn the
    term, "insertable contacts", and to now be able to search for it
    online. And also that they exist.
  5. Allan Adler

    Allan Adler Guest

    Thanks for this synopsis.
    OK. Do you know any online illustrations of this technique?
    Makes sense.
    Thanks, I took a look. It will take some getting used to.
    Radio Shack sells a crimping tool for about $39. Will it do the job?
  6. Rich Webb

    Rich Webb Guest

    For single pins, breadboarding, test point jumpers and similar, I'd
    recommend getting a bag of individual crimp connectors (Molex
    16-02-0102 (tin) or 16-02-0103 (gold)), a couple of spools of 22 AWG
    stranded wire, a couple of colors of shrink tubing (1/16" should
    work), and the $10 crimp tool HT-202A (at Jameco and many others).

    Spend an afternoon making up some sets in a standard size, 6", 12",
    18" or whatever. Note that the 16-02-0102 connectors are for
    0.025-square posts and not particularly good for mating to the smaller
    DB pins (though they will sort of work if you don't jiggle them). For
    normal sized DB pins, try AMP part 1-66504-0.

    The crimp tool is adequate but nothing to brag about. A notch up the
    ladder is an Eclipse 300-054 frame and 300-086 die, available as a set

    You can buy similar jumpers already made from Sparkfun

    For "regular" 0.1" center rectangular connectors, nothing beats ribbon
    cable and IDC connectors. To mate to a breadboard (where you'll want
    to span a separator) use IDC DIP connectors (Mouser carries them).

    For 0.1" single-inline connectors, start with the Molex kit KK-100.

    For smaller pitches in pairs and single row, as well as latching
    connectors and metric-sized pins, look in the vicinity of the catalog
    pages for the 0.1" families.
  7. Rich Webb

    Rich Webb Guest

    On Sun, 11 Nov 2007 14:30:36 GMT, Rich Webb

    My bad ... This is NOT on an Eclipse frame. It's from their Solar
    series, frame # 300-087.
  8. Prices will almost certainly be cheaper at the on-line suppliers, but
    they will often have minimum order policies, and you also have to pay

    If you only want two DE-9 connectors, Radio Shack is probably cheaper,
    but if your total order might be $50, the on-line suppliers will be
    Beware that crimp tools for these contacts can be quite specialized -
    at work, we've got a cupboard full of various crimp tools for all the
    different connectors that we use. If you do use insertable-contact
    connectors, don't forget to get a contact removal tool!

    Peter Bennett, VE7CEI
    peterbb4 (at)
    new newsgroup users info :
    GPS and NMEA info:
    Vancouver Power Squadron:
  9. Officially, you need the right crimp tool for the specific contact you
    are using - however, depending on the contact, and the assembler's
    skill, you can often "make do" with the wrong tool, and/or solder.

    Peter Bennett, VE7CEI
    peterbb4 (at)
    new newsgroup users info :
    GPS and NMEA info:
    Vancouver Power Squadron:
  10. Since crimp tools are fairly expensive, and often unique to each
    contact style, I'd suggest that for most home/hobby applications, you
    should use solderable connectors, unless you expect to make a large
    number of cables using the same connector family.

    Peter Bennett, VE7CEI
    peterbb4 (at)
    new newsgroup users info :
    GPS and NMEA info:
    Vancouver Power Squadron:
  11. Wim Lewis

    Wim Lewis Guest

    I make do with needlenose pliers and a bit of frustration. It works fine,
    although it's slow. If I were putting more than a few contacts on at a
    time I'd start thinking of getting an actual tool --- but of course each
    type of connector needs a different crimp tool, and at $200 a pop, that
    adds up fast. :)
  12. Allan Adler

    Allan Adler Guest

    Thanks for this advice. I do have a soldering iron.

    In your other message, you indicated that, unofficially, one can sometimes
    use the wrong crimping tool. As an experiment, I'll see what I can
    accomplish with pliers.
  13. Allan Adler

    Allan Adler Guest

    Coincidentally, this evening I found a discarded computer and extracted
    its motherboard, plug in cards, power supply and drives, as well as a ribbon
    cable, leaving the case behind. I haven't had a chance to look it over. I
    don't know whether this will provide me with suitable smaller components,
    assuming I don't find the motherboard, plug in cards and plugs on the back
    of the computer useful. The power supply can be used to power some projects
    on a solderless breadboard.
    Thanks for these and other suggestions, as well as the correction in
    your other posting. One of the things I think I need to do is to develop
    hands on familiarity with the pins and connectors I have actually found
    in the discarded PC, since I am free to disassemble as far as I like.
    Then I'll become more literate in dealing with the online suppliers.
    Of course, I could also acquire this literacy by buying a lot of stuff,
    but I can't afford to learn that way. I can also examine pins and connectors
    on the PC I'm actually planning to connect to the synthesizer keyboard, but
    such examination needs to be much less intrusive.

    Since pins, as they occur in nature, probably don't come marked with explicit
    sizes, maybe one thing I need is a way to measure their dimensions.
  14. Rich Webb

    Rich Webb Guest

    Even a so-so crimper will likely perform far better than pliers. The
    $10 tool I mentioned earlier won't replace a $250 connector-specific
    tool and die set but you'll be a lot happier with the results as
    compared to needle-nose pliers. If you use it, be prepared to move up
    or down a station from the stamped AWG range depending on the actual
    dimensions of the connector you're crimping.

    Some info at (yes, the original link is named pdf-squared ;-)
    It specifically applies to solderless terminals (ring, spade, ...) but
    the general discussion is good.
  15. Allan Adler

    Allan Adler Guest

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