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Thread: best strategy for connecting hook up wires to male 2.54mm pins in a build

  1. #1

    best strategy for connecting hook up wires to male 2.54mm pins in a build

    I have a newbie question, please feel free to point me to existing resources. I have been googling for a while and not found what I was looking for.

    I have been building a couple synths. I end up with a teensy board using the double header with an audio shield which leaves male pins for the hook up. This is great for the breadbox but when it comes to a more permanent build, where I still want to be able to swap out the teensy unit, what is the best way to hook up to these male pins? What I have done so far is cut up ribbon with a female header and connect the ribbon wires to my hook up wires by wrapping the bare metal together, dropping some solder on it, and covering it with heat shrink tubing. Also (thanks to my marginal soldering skills and sub par equipment) it is hard to get a tight fit of the female headers on to the board because of the occasional solder glob. I have had them come apart in the instrument before so now I also wrap them up with zip ties. Its all pretty janky and it takes me an hour or so to hook up one board.

    Anyways what is the 'right' way to do a semi-permanent connection between hookup wires and male pins on the boards? Is there such thing as female header blanks that I can crimp my hookup wire into? Does it take special tools? is the strip / wrap / solder / heat-shrink the best way to connect 22 gauge hookup wire to the premanufactured ribbon wires?


  2. #2
    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    Ayer Massachussetts
    This is one of those areas, were there are many different answers, depending on your needs. I have gone all over the map.

    Here is a recent post where I listed a lot of the different headers, pins, etc:

    However with an instrument you likely will have the same problem I have with costume projects is the things can come apart. Even when I've soldered things, at times the solder cracks if I move things too much. So every time I bring out the gear, I need to inspect it and see if it needs a touch up.

    What I typically do is use a prototype board that I can solder connections to. My favorite boards are two boards that are the same size as Altoids mint tins:

    With the prototype boards, I usually use nylon standoffs, to raise the board off the floor:

    I solder either 14, 20, or 24 pin female headers, so that the Teensy can mount in these slots. Usually I mount an extra row of headers on the outside to allow one off jumper wires, similar to what you use on a breadboard. On the inside, I connect solid wires from the appropriate pins to the places where I have breakouts. I arrange the breakouts to be logical connections. For example, I've been playing with displays, so I often have a row of pins for SPI connections, with the wires in a given order (it changes from time to time).

    Usually on the Teensy, I solder stacking headers with a female top, and male pins underneath. That way I can mount another shield like your sound adapter on top (or underneath the Teensy). For the bottom, I often just use one of the 170 point breadboards to mount the teensy (but I usually don't put wires in the breadboard). I generally haven't found 14 or 24 pin stacking headers, so I have to cut them down with diagonal cutters (occasionally, I will use the extra pins to attach wires from underneath the Teensy):

    One thing that I use is the pololu crimped wires. You can buy the wires in various sizes (1", 3", 6", etc.) or you can buy the supplies to make your own custom wires. You buy headers of various sizes (such as 1x4, 1x8, 2x5, etc.) and you put the wires in (usually eaiser to use pre-crimped wires than make your own). This way you can use red for power, black for ground, etc.

    However, I have had cases where the wires moved out of the headers when I inserted the wire into the headers. So the next time I make wire headers, I plan to use a bit of superglue to make sure the header is permanent.

    I've also thought about using cat 5 ethernet cables (which provide 8 wires). For example:

    Or the 2x5, 2x13, 2x20, etc. IDC cables, such as:
    Last edited by MichaelMeissner; 09-19-2019 at 12:16 AM.

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