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I've separated a bunch of phone wire to connect a bunch of small devices (small motors, switches, buttons, electromagnets, etc all embedded in Lego blocks) and I need a way to temporarily connect them. I have some connectors like this:

enter image description here

But they're far too big and bulky, I need something tiny, it doesn't have to fit very tightly or be insulated, it would be nice if there was only one kind (so any two could connect together). Maybe some kind of micro alligator clip? Magnetic connections? Maybe little jewellery clasps? Or like this?

enter image description here

Surely instead of making my own I can go buy a bag of something, right? How do most hobbyists handle this?

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you immerse the ends of the wire into a molten alloy of some kind (heated by a small handheld device), and with suitable flux, you can join them temporarily quite readily. A bit of heatshrink tubing or tape will supply insulation where required. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 18:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ What about jumper wires sparkfun.com/categories/141 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 18:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ What about hand twisting, since you do not need insulation? \$\endgroup\$
    – Triak
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 18:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Child-safe was not in the requirements, and crimping connections is probably not child-friendly either. Soldering wires to motors etc. would allow use of a solderless breadboard, which is what most hobbyists use for temporary connections. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 19:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ BTW, the term for the kind of connector you're proposing is "hermaphroditic". \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 19:05

6 Answers 6

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Small solderless breadboard (photo from Adafruit) used by electronics hobbyists:

enter image description here

Only 1.4 x 1.6".

Bullet connectors (photo from robotshop.com) used by RC hobbists.

enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ Selected for the bullet connectors, not the breadboard. \$\endgroup\$
    – gunfulker
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 19:32
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You can get screwdriverless terminal blocks like these: -

enter image description here

Solder two together and it makes a 4-way wire connector. Here's one that looks useful: -

enter image description here

And you can multi-way versions like these: -

enter image description here

These look useful too: -

enter image description here

link

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are the white bits on top levers that release the wire? \$\endgroup\$
    – gunfulker
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 19:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @gunfulker try searching on "cam-lever connector" or terminal block \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 19:16
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For really temporary connections, jumper wires with grabber clips, like these, are very commonly used. They can grab onto a lot of different things, including each other.

grabber clips
(source: apogeekits.com)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Very nice but far too big. \$\endgroup\$
    – gunfulker
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 19:27
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The phone company uses punch down blocks...

enter image description here

...to connect pairs of phone wire. This method is super fast because you do not need to strip or crimp the wire before punching it down.

Some blocks have metal clips that bridge the connections. These can make debugging problems very quick since you can make and break connections without ever disconnecting the actual wires....

enter image description here

Punch down blocks as create a nicely organized layout rather than a big mess of wires.

The blocks come in many sizes and shapes....

enter image description here

enter image description here

Some punch down blocks even have places to label the incoming and outgoing connections...

enter image description here

...which also helps keep things organized.

You will need a punch down tool, available for $10-$20 from amazon. enter image description here

Once you get the block and the tool, you will be able to make lots secure connections in less than 1 second.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How do you remove the wires? I know you can stick a flat-blade screwdriver in there and twist it to spread the tangs, but is there a more controlled method? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 19:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Something like this but for individual connections with maybe some kind of release mechanism would be perfect. \$\endgroup\$
    – gunfulker
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 19:12
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From professional to ghetto

  1. Mini alligator clips or test clips. With or without leads on them. Lead less clips, just use the clips to hold the two wires in the jaws together.
  2. Small paper clips. Same as lead less clips above.
  3. Aluminum foil folded over into small strips. Roll or fold over wire joint, then crimp with some pliers.
  4. Twist the wires together. Duh.

Mini clips are quite small and handy. http://www.tubelab.com/images/MeterUse/B-Clips.jpg

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If you are using 24 AWG solid wire such as telephone wire (from a 25-pair or larger telephone cable) or wire from a cat-5 cable for your temporary jumpers, there is an easy and reliable solution for making temporary connections.

You need to get a machine-pin IC socket. You can then break the pins free from the plastic socket and solder the tail end of the pin to whatever wire you want to connect to. Then cover with small heat-shrink tubing, making sure to leave the opening in the socket pin open.

Now you can just use 24 AWG solid wire to connect to whatever you want to connect to. 24 AWG wire is a perfect fit into those socket pins and this makes a very reliable connection.


[EDIT]

I just noticed that you would like connectors that are the same for both ends of the connection.

A company called EDAC makes rectangular connectors that are popular in the professional audio industry. Their pins are small and flat and have a slit up the middle. Two such connectors mate by sliding the slits on top of each other. In other words, the flat part of one pin is rotated 90 degrees with respect to the other so that the slits mate up. They then just push together.

Here is an example of the connector pins: EDAC pin They are available as solder-tab, crimp, PCB mount.

These pins are highly reliable because of the wiping action that occurs as they mate.

Doing a Google search on "edac pins" brings up multiple suppliers. They are also readily available from places like eBay.

Digikey has them as part # 151-1049-ND costing about $0.50 each in hundreds. eBay cost is about half of that (200 pcs $50)

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