Making the Connection

Making the Connection

I’ve had mixed success with micro controller cable interconnects.  My first experiences at wiring was humble.  I leaned heavily on standard 3mm audio jacks due mainly to the low learning curve.   As my projects became more complex, the limitations with this became clear.

Simply doing a search for Molex on Google will reveal the dilemma that the newcomer has to face.  I couldn’t make the connection.  The endless sea of pitch, ratings, conductor type, latch types, etc. just made the effort exhausting.  As a result, it became more of a game of experiments than precision work.  This wasted time and materials, neither of which I wanted.

Eventually, I did find some sources for connector types that have been field proven. The ebike connectors that were original with my first Crystalyte 408 motor were non-standard, based on my impressions.  I found that the industry hasn’t created a standard and that most ebike enthusiast were using Anderson power connectors.  After some research, it became apparent that the higher current voltage source applications were going to utilize this type of connector.

The Anderson connectors are easy to work with, easy to source, reliable, interchangeable, and inexpensive.  The supplier that I found that works great for me was Powerwerx.  I had no trouble putting these on my batteries, chargers, watt meters, controllers, motors, and power boosters.  They have worked for me without fail in the field for the past 2 years in all types of weather.  I highly recommend this type of connector for high amp voltage source applications.

Here is where my luck ran out.  The low current voltage, signal, and logic lines used the bulky Molex connectors.  I tried using recycled connectors from computers, but the wiring would break or the connector would come loose.  It just didn’t perform like the Anderson connectors.

Finally after starting the micro controllers studies, most of the prototyping boards and headers use the standard 2.5mm pitch, as d0 breadboards.  I finally found a connector type that I could start to lean toward, that being the BLS housing found at a local retailer called Vetco Electronics.  They worked great on the bench and I had the ability to reuse the components.

The only problem was these connectors were not well suited for a mobile application, like the ebike.  I had to use hot glue for one of my projects.  This now made it impractical to remove connectors in the field if a problem arose.   Now I was back to square one.

Since I had such great results with the Anderson Connectors, I decided to do more research with those that sourced these connectors and see what they suggested for low voltage connectors.  The JST-SM connector is a preferred interface from the folks at Grin Tech, they are one of the early ebike online retailers.  The JST-SM connector is highlighted in a guide provided by Grin Tech.  As of the date of this post, you can find it here.

I had also had some limited success in sourcing the same connector from AdaFruit.  However, these were prefrabricated and the conductor count selections were limited.  Not to be complete harsh to the folks at AdaFruit, they did provide a spec sheet on the interface.  I understand that inventory that doesn’t move, costs money.  They have to focus on what works, after all rent in Manhattan is brutal.

I finally managed to find a source from Hansen Hobbies that had several options available.  I haven’t purchased with them and the info page is mildly amusing with the contact being Chris Hansen.  Without going into to much detail about my evening television viewing, I did find some instruction online in regard to building the connectors.

The source that I’m finally considering as the front runner is Pololu.  They offer such a vast selection of connectors and the prefabricated stock appears to be made on demand.  They also provided videos detailing their products.  I was impressed when I stumbled upon their website.

I still think I’ll need to consider additional sources.  The low voltage connectors I would really like to find at this point are wire-wire latching and wire-board latching.  This type of connector will solve a greater portion of the issues I’m facing with wired connections.

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