Clip-on cables for breakboards?

Hi all,

I'm currently setting up tests with few break-board mounted chips from SparkFun (color sensor & motor driver). The ultimate idea is to make a robot as a summer project with the kids. The typical breakboards come with spaced holes for headers/soldering. I like to avoid soldering during the initial quick-prototyping phase, when I mostly want to try the functionality with the Arduino, loading libraries, reading values, etc...

In this prototyping mode, I usually fold some solid core cable into a little pin that fits tight in the small breakboard hole. The thing is that often those solid core cables pull themselves out of the board, making testing unrealiable on the physical plane. (--> read frustrating :-)

Are there off-the-shelf connectors/cables that can offer a good connection to the breakboard perforations? I'm thinking of some sort of small spring-loaded tip that would let you easy attaching/detaching to the breakboard contacts/holes?

-regards, Gerard.

Sparkfun sells pogo pins which can be used with a fixture (a piece of perfboard works) to make solid connections. I use just such a setup to connect the ISP on their AVR/Stick boards.

There are some spring loaded pins like this http://www.dipmicro.com/store/index.php?act=viewCat&catId=481

The part numbers can be searched at www.mill-max.com Browsing there may lead to what you're after.

I think your best bet would be to call and ask if they have spring loaded pins that get skinny when pressed, to fit in a hole, and then fatten up when released, to stay in the hole.

I think would be much easier to just take a minute, solder on male header pins, then stick it in solderless breadboard and go from there, as if it was a DIP or SIP component. Or even solder on long-legged female header, can plug into breadboard, or push terminated wires into header. http://www.dipmicro.com/store/HDR08X1FL

http://www.pololu.com/catalog/product/1801 http://www.pololu.com/catalog/product/1802

I find these to be very handy, I keep an assortment of male-male, male-female, and female-female on hand for connecting stuff up. Add some crimp housings http://www.pololu.com/catalog/product/1900 and make up whatever test cable you need.

The wires can be popped out of the housings too if needed - use a little screw driver, dental pick, gently lift up the little tab that holds the wire in place and slide it back out.

Great pointers. I placed an order for some connectors (headers) to solder on. It seems to be the easiest way.

@pogo pins: Although the SparkFun page indicates that the fit "snugly" in the perforations, they are meant for surface contact, aren't they? My colleague says he's used them to build test rigs (and he added in a deep tone "for serious work" :-) :-)

I still remain thinking that there should be a better alternative with some kind of spring loaded connector. The ultimate ideal would be a male pin on one side and a spring loaded pin on the other, so when components arrive I just have to clip-on, plug into the arduino, and I'm good to go for some prototyping. (I'm a SW guy, so soldering an the like: the less, the better ... ;-)

maasg: @pogo pins: Although the SparkFun page indicates that the fit "snugly" in the perforations, they are meant for surface contact, aren't they? My colleague says he's used them to build test rigs (and he added in a deep tone "for serious work" :-) :-)

The pogo pins do only make surface contact, but they are spring loaded and perform well, if you you create a 'sandwich'. On the certain small devices, I don't want to have a permanently attached ISP header for reprogramming the device, so I use two perfboards, separated by standoffs that are screwed together. I then arrange six pogo pins into the ISP arrangement and wire them to a standard ISP header that I secure to the perfboard with super glue. I can then place the test board under the pogo pins for reprogramming (it is fairly secure) and then attach my programmer to the regular ISP header on the perfboard for programming.

I typically use two IC clips to attach power and ground to the device.

While pogo pins are normally used for testing, as your colleague says, they are not limited to such "serious" work. They make very good temporary connections for things like this, or even the "breadboarding" your talking about, if you don't want to solder headers in place.

Maybe what you're after is test-clip to test-clip patch cords:

This is set of 10: http://www.newark.com/pomona/5523/connector-assemblies-hooks-test/dp/90F2175?in_merch=Popular Products&in_merch=Popular Products&MER=PPSO_N_C_EverywhereElse_None Printed catalog: $55.64 Online: $44

This one I don't get at all: http://www.newark.com/tenma/76-004a/test-lead-kit-8-pieces-miniature/dp/12M5887?Ntt=76-004a Printed 2012 catalog shows them at $34.42, online price is $64.14. Guess they really don't want to sell them!

Could also buy individual "plunger clip"s and put on male terminated wires http://www.pololu.com/catalog/product/1904 http://www.pololu.com/catalog/product/1931 http://www.pololu.com/catalog/category/71

and make up your test lead with a set of male pins to plug into arduino headers for stable testing.