I'm trying my first real project with an arduino of my own design/idea. I come from a CS background this EE stuff is both exciting and scary.

I'm trying to wire up a 3.5mm female audio jack to the Arduino, via my breadboard.

I've just finished soldering some wires to the jack (my first time with the solder) but now I have hit an issue I didn't think of: the wire I'm using is made of 10's of little copper wires, this seems normal enough, but I've only ever plugged in larger solid single-thread wires in to my arduino.

Do I somehow have to fuse the little ones together to be able to plug this in? Or can I just kinda shove it in?

END NOTE: Thanks every one for your suggestions! Thanks guys, and sorry for the lack of proper terminology, as I said, I'm from CS and very new to any thing to do with EE.


The best way to use stranded wire with a solderless breadboard is to solder the end to a short length of solid wire (the same stuff that you use for your normal connections), and plug that in. You need to remove the insulation from the solid wire, of course.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Why the downvote? It's the easiest and cheapest solution. \$\endgroup\$ – Leon Heller May 31 '11 at 19:22

I usually solder the wire to the "short" part of a header strip pin. Strip Image

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is the best answer, but you'll need to find some of these pins first. \$\endgroup\$ – endolith May 31 '11 at 14:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ They are quite easy to find; in the US probably in any Radio Shack or local electronic shop; even repair shops would have. And they can be salvaged from old PC boards, floppy drives, etc. since it's the same header used for IDE and many other connections. \$\endgroup\$ – fceconel May 31 '11 at 23:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fceconel True, apart from salvaging, they're easy to find. I can buy them in every electronic components shop (even here in Italy) \$\endgroup\$ – Axeman Jun 1 '11 at 7:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can pick these up from Farnell, Maplin or Bitsbox for very little. \$\endgroup\$ – Polynomial May 6 '12 at 19:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with the others that they're easy to find. @endolith, if your shop doesn't have these headers, it's not an electronics shop. \$\endgroup\$ – radagast Sep 7 '13 at 9:07

Heat the stranded wire from the end. In a few seconds, dab at it with a bit of flux-cored solder. You're trying to get a bit of flux to melt into the strands. A couple of seconds later, the wire should be hot enough to melt the solder. Dab it again and let just a tiny solder melt into the strands; it will be enough to bind them.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ fwiw, this is often referred to as 'tinning the wire' \$\endgroup\$ – JustJeff Jun 1 '11 at 0:17

The wire you're using is called "stranded".

To use stranded wire in this application, you will need to tin the wire tip. There are several places on the internet that describe how to do it. This one has many pictures: http://www.teamnovak.com/tech_info/how_to/solder/index.html. This one has several good points: http://www.kpsec.freeuk.com/solder.htm.

Some key points: cleanliness is key to a good solder joint. Too much solder is just as bad as too little. And be very mindful of the soldering iron tip. I accidentally gave myself a nasty burn on my thumb when I was first learning to solder; it took a month to fully heal.


Don't try to shove stranded wire into a breadboard.

What I do is simply get a paper clip, solder the stranded wire to the paper clip, and cut the paper clip into the desired length. That way it is a very good thing to put into a breadboard (can't really bend paper clip that short), and the paper clip is a very snug fit into most bread boards.


Well, you can actually force a stranded wire into a breadboard or a socket such as the one in Arduino, but it will take some time and effort. If the wire isn't rigid enough to get in the socket, pushing it inside with another solid wire, like one form an end of a resistor helps.

One way I found useful was to use 3 $\Omega$ resistors which I had lying around. They are small enough that they won't make a major impact in most circuits. Just plug one side of the resistor into a socket and wrap the wire around the other side. For a better connection, bend the end of the resistor by say 90 degrees or more. This way, the wrapped wire won't just slide off.

This method won't actually modify a wire, won't require you to solder it or to try to shape a bit of molten solder, which could sometimes be a problem, and is relatively cheap and very quick. The downside is that you'll need resistors with low enough resistance which won't make a big impact on the circuit.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've just cut the lead off the resistor as well and used the lead. That way the resistance of the wire does not change. \$\endgroup\$ – mjh2007 Jun 1 '11 at 13:17

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