Friday, October 1, 2010

Jumper Cables from Junk

Ach-tung to all VE readers!!

I think I owe an apology for not regulating this site, since we're all out of the juice needed to write articles here. I'll be giving some simple, very simple stuff which no-one has done yet, at least in my circle.

Beautifulmind and Deathclaw are pretty busy engineers at the moment, and I'm kinda busy too.. but in a different way since I'm not working or continuing my studies yet, and yes, I'm going for the latter after this. So... Enough of my lugubriousness here... we'll get to the topic now.

One aspect of being an electronics hobbyist is that we'll need to channel voltage/current supply to our circuits or motors or even a single LED to a Wall Wart or a DC Supply or a battery. Rather than using wires to touch the terminals using your hands, or doing that messy temporary soldering to connect the terminals, people like to use jumper cables.

Heard of this one before?
"The strength of a chain lies in the weakest link"

This is also the golden rule with jumper connectors. No matter how beautiful or strong the grip is, you'll always end up with broken jumper connectors with the usual crocodile clips. This is because the wires are not adhered to the clips properly. You'll notice it takes more than soldering the contacts to have good quality jumper cables.

There is absolutely nothing going on here except that you'll notice: You don't need to buy the jumper cables, you don't need to be a geek to build one, and you certainly don't need to fish out three or four bucks for each jumper connectors which USUALLY don't last and will need to be repaired after some time due to wires breaking off after some time, which is due to the mechanical stress.

So.... Naturally mistakes were made, and better solutions were discovered...According to five years of experience of building my own jumper cables, I'll name a few ingredients needed for this recipe (assemble your junk collection and you'll get more options, these are only the ones I made, you might be able to make better ones):

1. Name Tag clips, which are made out of steel. They're very strong, and the grip is MUCH stronger than the generic crocodile clips., they have holes which aid in knotting or fitting in other strengthening elements. Here's my collection after extracting 'em from various name tags:

I used pliers to pull out the aluminum rivets which hold the plastic and the steel clip together. Notice that the rightmost one is an anomaly, that one is cut from plastic name tags which has the metal clip part on it. It serves a lot of purpose too.

2. Wire. (Duh!!) I got mine from radio wiring, they're very sturdy and thick, which means the tolerance is much higher if you're considering heating problems in your connections which require a large current.

To be taken into consideration: We're building jumper cables, which are prone to a lot of mechanical stress (wear and tear) so it'll be nice if you have the type of wires with a groovy and fancy-looking insulation at the end of the wire, which may be salvaged from basically all type of appliances. Something like this:

The fancy-looking "grooves" on the wire will be very helpful in making the glue bond between the wire and the clip very strong and durable.

3. Epoxy Glue: Please view this link.

The steps are pretty obvious, so I wouldn't want you to waste time reading details which don't matter, but I'll put up a single picture to show how I did it:

The picture above shows the soldering process (solder sticks pretty properly, don't worry). And a combination of the full-steel clip and the half-plastic half-steel clip is VERY useful for some applications.

The picture below are the variations of my construction for other cables:

a: The red highlighted area is the part which will be soldered, note that the wires are wounded around the upper part before putting it to contact with the metal surface of the clip. This aids additional strength of the connection after gluing.

b: The next sequence shows the contacts are soldered generously, and the "groovy" part of the fire is fitted into the hole of the clip, which again adds a significant durability to the "weakest link" (yes, in my experience, this is the frustrating part) after the applied glue to the crevices dries and hardens up.

c: This picture shows another technique used; I looped the wire around the hole (which is why name tag clips are just the thing for this purpose) and I glued the loose part.

After all of this is done, my collection is displayed as follows:

When everything's all said and done...... BOW DOWN!!! You have your own collection of the strongest type of jumper connectors for your electronics projects. Connect it to motors, LEDs (with resistors, I must remind you people), breadboards (stick a male connector into it and clip to the revealed part), and so on.

I know this article is pretty light and simple, but I find that these cables provide to be more than a chain to the missing link (intended there) which is called: convenience.

InsyaAllah, may God be pleased with us for living our lives trying to spend less (by improvising and recycling more) and use the money for better purposes.


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!

    Electrical Projects for Students


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