General purpose connectors/plugs/sockets for projects

Can you recommend a good connector format for small project boxes? I'm talking about connecting a project box to the outside world. Is there some standard? .1" spaced headers/plugs is a good standard for board-level stuff...I have a ton of plugs and headers I bought from Pololu. But for linking together project boxes, I want a plug format that I can standardize on. I'm willing to like, buy a crap-ton of them from sparkfun and just use them for everything to link stuff together. I know there are some molex connectors but they never seem standard. I thought about using 3.5mm audio plugs, because it's practically universal, but the problem is the jacks and plugs are kind of expensive and they momentarily short when you insert them. RCA jacks and plugs would work, but only make sense if your lines come in pairs.

I guess the true universal interface is screw terminals, but I don't know a source of panel-mount screw terminals either. All I can find is PC-mount screw terminals.

Another nearly universal interface would be banana jacks and plugs. Do you know where I can buy a bunch of banana jacks and bare plugs?

What do you use when you just need a pinout the the outside world?

I would suggest banana plugs.

Banana plugs is a great idea! I had forgot those. I could pretty much standardize on those if I could lay in a supply of panel-mount jacks and plugs. I guess I could cough up enough for a digikey order…

Kind of bulky too…

True they are a bit bulky but hey harder to lose them right :)

BetterSense: Can you recommend a good connector format for small project boxes? I'm talking about connecting a project box to the outside world. Is there some standard? .1" spaced headers/plugs is a good standard for board-level stuff...I have a ton of plugs and headers I bought from Pololu. But for linking together project boxes, I want a plug format that I can standardize on. I'm willing to like, buy a crap-ton of them from sparkfun and just use them for everything to link stuff together. I know there are some molex connectors but they never seem standard. I thought about using 3.5mm audio plugs, because it's practically universal, but the problem is the jacks and plugs are kind of expensive and they momentarily short when you insert them. RCA jacks and plugs would work, but only make sense if your lines come in pairs.

I guess the true universal interface is screw terminals, but I don't know a source of panel-mount screw terminals either. All I can find is PC-mount screw terminals.

Another nearly universal interface would be banana jacks and plugs. Do you know where I can buy a bunch of banana jacks and bare plugs?

What do you use when you just need a pinout the the outside world?

Have you thought about RJ11 or RJ45? Would work fine for signals, though I would suggest stranded wire for the CAT-3 or CAT-5 if a lot of plugging/unplugging/movement is going to occur. Another possibility is DB9 plugs and jacks...

I don't think RJ45 fits the bill because you need special crimpers and wire sizes to use it.

DB9 could work. At least you can build the plugs with common tools. I don't feel like machining out a d-shaped hole in everything just to mount the jack, though.

I guess the only solution is to use big project boxes and either those giant speaker binding posts or banana plugs. The bummer with banana plugs is that you always need a ground reference for logic signals so you are going to need 2 banana plugs just to pick up a logic signal.

Does anyone know a project box/perfboard combo that would allow easy use of PC mount screw terminals? I like the PC mount screw terminals but usually I build with some random perfboard in some random box where the screw terminals won't work. Does anyone buy nice perfboard/project box combos that work together?

I know you said you don't like Molex but, I do like the Molex Mini-fit Jr series plugs. They have header plugs and plugs that require wire for both the male and female.

http://www.google.com/search?q=Molex%20Mini-fit%20Jr&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=np&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&biw=1024&bih=638&sei=%204aKuTqD9E6nr0gGL1eCZBg

For signal level and low current connections I use 0.1" pin headers ( male or female, as required ), ribbon cable to make up paired lines. solder the board end of the header to the wire end and cover with heat-shrink. Not too sexy, but Cheap, serviceable, fits the Arduino connectors and breadboards, and can be built to custom lengths as needed.

But, then, I'm a cheap old fart....

There's always mini-banana plugs too.

You could look into things like DIN connectors also if you needed more density. Here's a 6 pin version, round hole for panel mount, and the mating cable end. http://www.omnikits.com/phpstore/index.php?action=item&id=233&prevaction=category&previd=5&prevstart=0 http://www.omnikits.com/phpstore/index.php?action=item&id=237&prevaction=category&previd=5&prevstart=0