Hook-up cable and connectors :Advice and Suppliers

I recently did a project that used a lot of cables, long and short with a few connections. I used CAT5 cable with modular rj45 connectors and interconnects. I went as cheap as I could. I got 1000’ of the cable for <100$ and used it all over.

I now have a system with poor connections because the individual wires cracked all through the cables.

I want to know what you all use for interconnects in projects and where you source it. I’m ready to spend a bit more money but I still don’t want to drop 500$ on cable for projects.

So here are the things that I need:

  1. Cable for long runs or a lot of short runs. Easy to terminate, won’t crack when bent or stepped on.
  2. inexpensive but reliable connectors - I usually need to support ~ 4 wires and need some in-line connectors.
    At work I would just use a mil-spec in-line for this type of thing. At home, I need a solution that isn’t going to bust my wallet.
  3. I was wondering if anybody has had good experience with crimp on connections for low gauge wire? Or should I stick to shrink-tube and solder for permanent connections?
  4. Board to board solutions: Should I just use ribbons and crimp-ons?
    What is a good supplier of bulk ribbon connectors and headers?

I’ve used most of these things once or twice but never on my own budget. Any good (US) suppliers are appreciated. Any part numbers or brand recommendations are also appreciated!

What is your transport mechanism?

For home projects I’ve been using a CAM bus solution. Simple twisted pair and reliable.
Not too sure what you are looking for a physical link.
As to suppliers, I can’t help you there as I am using a simple wiring.

I am doing a couple of things, all low voltage, low current. The CAT5 cables work electrically for all of my connections they are just brittle and unreliable.

I'm basically looking for cable and connectors for my current projects and future projects. Something to populate my workspace with.

The CAT5 cables work electrically for all of my connections they are just brittle and unreliable.

Hmm. This is not my experience with CAT5 from various suppliers.. I've had some in place for 10 years. Are these in high temperature areas? Exposed to full sunlight?

Others: What is your CAT5 experience??

It actually wasn't weather conditions that did it. It was physical and mechanical conditions.
I was using it to connect wires from various units.
In one case, it was 25' runs going from a controller to heads in a graveyard.
In another case, it was 1' jumpers installed in between blip-tronic lights.

In both cases, there was a lot of jostling and moving of the cables and the wires cracked in multiple spots. Some at solder joints, some at screw-terminations, some inside the housing.

All in all it was a giant mess. I have made almost 50 repairs in a week. I can't work on the meat of my project because I'm so busy fixing the problems.

I would love to get like 22 awg or 24 awg twisted pairs in a jacket. 2-3 pairs is perfect for what I do. I can't seem to find a good supplier for them at a reasonable price.

I'm going to forgo my twist,solder, and tape connection method for 18-22 ga. butt splices and bullet connectors all crimp on. I'm hoping that this will hold better.

Oh: Understand.. there is a lot of mechanical movement.

You need stranded wires with insulation that will take the flexing. This is a well known requirement.

I might still think of Ethernet cable though. The flexible stranded "jumper" cables are designed to take a lot of flexing and stepping on, and they are probably cheaper than alternatives because they are made in such large quantities.. With their typical plastic flex section at the connector, that is designed for flexing also..

Otherwise you are looking at commercial grade multi-twisted pair stranded wire, which will be harder (certainly not impossible) to find and a lot more expensive.

Look at Belden.com and http://it.mouser.com/Wire-Cable/Multi-Paired-Cable/_/N-5ggq?Keyword=stranded+wire+cable&FS=True

Spooky....

I found a solution from my father!
It's 22 gauge thermostat wire. He has a license to buy it at a wholesaler and and can get it for 50$ 1000'.
He tells me that they beat the crap out of it, bend it, twist it, and step on it without issues.

Ok, let us know how it works out. The thermostat wire I've used is #22 solid, not stranded wire. Not great for flexing repeatedly, but tough...

Sounds to me like you are SOLDERING the RJ45 wires to circuit boards or SCREWING them to terminals. They are not meant to be used like that since they are very thin and brittle. You need to buy a crimper and crimp connectors to the cable and connect with jacks:

The above picture has an RJ45 jack on the PCB and you can buy a small breakout board for like $2 at sparkfun for ask me for my version of the PCB breakout design file and have it made a few dozen at a PCB fab house or incorporate into your PCB. There's contact resistance on crimped connectors so they are not ideal for passing small analog voltage signals.

Yeah I find cat5 is too brittle, expecially when I m still protyping and moving things around, the worst is when it breaks while im finishing it up, I just bought a bunvh of stranded jumpers for the close stuff and usually use 20 gauge solid for longer runs, it works well most of the time, maybe breaking if I use wirenuts and try to take the xplice apart, other than that its great, even im my car which obviously moves and jostles around a good bit