Stranded Wire + Breadboards

Hey all -

I know someone is going to have a quick solution to this, but google has not availed me today. The common method for getting Stranded Wires into Breadboards is by tinning the tips with solder to make them solid. On 24 Gauge Wire, even after you've done this, the wire is a bit too delicate to get into a good Breadboard socket.

Has anyone seen Breadboard Compatible Spring-Terminals, Screw-Terminals, or other methods? We're a bit exhausted of working with these tiny wires, constantly trying to thread them in and out, but all of the terminals we've seen so far are spaced too widely, or the posts are too big, for Breadboards.

Help is appreciated!

Thanks,

I would ditch the stranded wire in favour of solid, and that problem will go away

JimboZA: I would ditch the stranded wire in favour of solid, and that problem will go away

With many products that come with Stranded wire, that is not an option - for example, Stepper Motors, Servo Motors, and various other Pre-Fab electronics.

On the wires of a small (stepper) motor you can solder a 0.1" header and plug that in the breadboard. Use some shrink tubing around the soldered wires for protection. wimb

wimb: On the wires of a small (stepper) motor you can solder a 0.1" header and plug that in the breadboard. Use some shrink tubing around the soldered wires for protection. wimb

I've tried that before, but found two things - 1 - heating up both the wire and the header at the same time is nearly impossible - even with helping hands! 2- The plastic on the headers melts very easily, and often the header is ruined by the time I finish soldering!

How have you done this in the past to avoid those two? I can usually get a 'couple' of strands to connect, but nothing that I could call a 'solid' connection between the header and the wire.

I plug the header into a socket to act as 1. a heat sink to keep the rest of the pin from getting very hot 2. a clamp that holds the pin in place even when the plastic of the pin header gets too hot and 3. a convenient way to hold the whole thing.

Or solder 20 or 22 gauge solid wire onto the ends of the stranded wire, with some heat shrink tubing around the connection.

I find those alligator clip "helping hands" useless. They spring back from whatever position you put them in.

I clamp the socket in a benchtop vise, and hold the wire and the solder in my left hand with the soldering iron in my right.

You could also carefully put the wires into an IDC socket, then use a pin header as a male-to-male adapter to plug it into the protoboard.

Go to Digikey (or your favorite parts supplier) and look for headers with higher temp ratings. Use Helping Hands or just an alligator clip on the business end of the header to sink heat away. Pre-tin the wire-side of the header, and the wire itself. Then, line the wire up with the pin (over, or to the side) and heat to bond them.

Definitely put a little heat-shrink on the wire, and keep it away from the solder joint while you're working so it doesn't shrink to the insulation before you're ready.

It takes a little practice, but it's the easiest solution to this problem. I haven't found screw terminals with 0.1" pitch, or even perfect multiples of that.

just use some alligator clip or grabber to make your connection. this is just for breadboard prototype right?

I got tired of messing with stiff, stripped telephone wire, and just bought a couple packs of these

http://www.nkcelectronics.com/breadboard-jumper-wire-70pcs-pa70.html

which I misplaced, couldn't remember where I got them, bought a couple of these

http://www.dipmicro.com/store/ZY-800-65

and then found the originals! Go Figure. So now I have plenty of wires in a gallon size ziploc bag that is harder to lose.

Very flexible wire with a terminated lead, they also go into screw terminals nicely.

CrossRoads: I got tired of messing with stiff, stripped telephone wire, and just bought a couple packs of these

http://www.nkcelectronics.com/breadboard-jumper-wire-70pcs-pa70.html

which I misplaced, couldn't remember where I got them, bought a couple of these

http://www.dipmicro.com/store/ZY-800-65

and then found the originals! Go Figure. So now I have plenty of wires in a gallon size ziploc bag that is harder to lose.

Very flexible wire with a terminated lead, they also go into screw terminals nicely.

When I started a project recently I requested these as well and they are great. Sparkfun and Seeedstudio also carry them, as well as amazon. They are great for prototyping. Worst case is you can cut a wire in half and solder the wire to the other stranded wire, heat shrink it, and move forward with a mostly flexible wire.

For soft stranded wire, I crimp on male servo connectors:

Plug into bread-board without problems. Servo connectors also have the right spaceing (.254mm).

Priest:
Has anyone seen Breadboard Compatible Spring-Terminals, Screw-Terminals, or other methods? We’re a bit exhausted of working with these tiny wires, constantly trying to thread them in and out, but all of the terminals we’ve seen so far are spaced too widely, or the posts are too big, for Breadboards.

I’ve started getting into making custom breadboard cables. Pololu.com sells crimp connectors for various # of pins, from 1x1 to 2x16 that you can make whatever custom cable you want:

So for about $22, you can get the crimp pins, and 1x1, 1x2, 1x3, 1x4 connectors to try it out.

Figure $52-55 if you don’t want to crimp your own cables, and want 6" cables in various MM, MF, FF orientations. Add another $30 for the cheaper crimping tool.

Rather than getting MM, MF, and FF versions of the 6" wires, I’ve been using only FF wires, and then these extra long male headers that fit in the breadboard, and allow female cables to be mounted: http://www.adafruit.com/products/400.

A somewhat different approach is to use locking wafer connectors. This site sells a bunch of male/female connectors and crimp pins that fit on stranded wire (it fits better than on solid wire). You get a selection of 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10 connections. You will need to leave extra space on your breadboard for these connectors: Straight Wafer Header Male/Female 3,4,5,6,8,10-pin PCB to Wire 6 Types 10/ea - dipmicro electronics

Another place has these JST connectors (I don’t know if the JST connectors are the same as the wafer connectors above). You can get a basic JST set for making cables with 2, 3, and 4 connections http://www.robotshop.com/en/254mm-jst-connector-kit.html.

<edit #1>
If you wanted terminal blocks that you could just put in wires without crimping, you can get these. Both Sparkfun and Adafruit sell a few versions of these, but pololu.com has more variety of # of pins, and is cheaper. You want the 0.1" pitch for a breadboard. Depending on the breadboard layout, you might want the versions where the wire attaches to the top of the side: http://www.pololu.com/category/117/terminal-blocks.

<edit #2>
You could also go for a prototype shield with screw connectors. I got this, but I don’t like the layout of the connected holes in the prototype part of the shield, and never used it: http://www.robotshop.com/en/dfrobot-proto-screw-shield-assembled.html.

The Pololu stuff is great, I always have a supply of crimp housings on hand. Usually have bags of terminated wires too so I don’t have to mess with crimping pins on. Never seem to have any bare wire anyway. Wife is way better at crimping on pins than I am usually.

I accidently "Smoked" one of those jumpers with the "Cute" moulded ends and when I measured 29Ga wire I changed to making my own jumpers as fast as I could reasonably find the parts at a realistic price... The prices on the parts from the 'big boy's ($7.95/100 male or female) and the shell extra too last time I looked... Iis nearly the same money as what an assembled part would have cost. I buy 100 pins, male and female for about $2.00 @ Electrodragon and shells too 1 to 8 pins. The Crimper set me back about $20.00 I was digging around there last week and found 138C Bismuth soldering paste.. It's the only thing besides hot air that will remove an SMD part W/O damage to part or PCB. Finally my 'other' $0.02's worth and that is to stay as far from solid wire as you can unless it's really the correct diameter .025" (6.4 mm) or 22 Ga (AWG) wire which is the same size as the pin that normally goes in that female connector. The max size IMO is a .032" (8.12 mm) or 20 Ga (AWG) wire. Nothing however is or works as well as those pins though... I make my own and consider it to be one of the "Evil's" I have to put up with to have fun

Doc

Those crimp connections are exactly what I'm looking for - I just couldn't find any. I could find the computer sized ones that are for larger cable (that service Video Cards, typically), but nothing smaller.

Thanks int2str, MichaelMeissner, for both of those product recommendations, they're just what I need.

Cheers,

I miss wire wrap.

What’s to miss? I do my prototype projects in wirewrap before I commit to PCB. Have 6 fencing strips at my club, all using wirewrapped control boards that are all slightly different as I played with different parts. Been using these since ~Jan 2011, just now getting around to making a PCB for the smaller one, ordering boards soon.

michinyon: I miss wire wrap.

Is somebody holding a gun to your head stopping you from doing it?

To answer the question: What I do is solder an old resistor leg onto the end of the stranded wire.

Given the availability of cheap imported male-male breadboard jumpers and female-female ("Dupont") jumpers, it may be false economy to buy connectors and crimpers for small numbers of connections. You can cut each jumper in half and you have two connectors ready to graft into whatever wire or cable or device you need to interface with.

I like Pololu, but it's about 6¢/ea for metal connector inserts and then you have to add the cost of the plastic housing to that. On the other hand, if you can get a 65- or 70-wire breadboard jumper pack for $3-4, that's less than 3¢ per connector -- only downside is you have to solder and heatshrink your splices (but, on the upside, you don't have to buy crimpers).

I went ahead and got some crimp connectors from Digikey/Mouser/Newark and a pair of cheap crimpers, but will not hesitate to butcher a jumper wire if it seems appropriate. Those assorted jumper wire packs always seem to have too many short jumpers and not enough long jumpers anyway, so buy a couple packs and don't feel bad about repurposing the short ones.

EDIT: Fungus' old resistor/diode leg trick is even cheaper. :)

If you were only buying the crimp pins & housing for breadboard use, I would agree. I however buy them mainly to build into projects, and only occasionally use with a breadboard when a straight-up jumper will not do the trick. Perhaps for a pot, or cable connector, pushbutton, adding a DB9 or similar, where a sturdier piece of wire is desired for something being used a piece of test equipment.