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I've found it useful to have a bunch of 2.54mm headers laying around. They fit nicely into breadboards

alt text

Now I'd like to use a connector to connect to them. Something like this:

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I'm not sure how to look for these in the catalogs.

I see these in mouser mouser part: 538-47054-1000 for $0.06 each.

Or these mouser part: 571-103688-7 for $0.50 each

My questions:

  1. how do I shop for these in the catalogs?
  2. how do I know if the crimp terminators (what's the proper term) are included?
  3. If they're not included, how do I spec those?
  4. How do I actually connect these to my wires?
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  • \$\begingroup\$ For some reason, these also go by the name "Dupont" connectors. You can get them at everyone's favorite auction site, generally about $4 for 100 connectors and pins. A $9 RadioShack DSub crimper works perfectly to crimp them. \$\endgroup\$ – Bryan Boettcher Aug 8 '12 at 14:57
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tl;dr:
You can get the 36-pin female version of that header, like this one, and solder it to your perfboard/pcb (not recommended as a long term solution for wires, but it will be fine for breadboarded circuits) or you can do it with connectors like the ones you showed.
For the special connectors, you probably want to find a like you like (I like mini JST (aka XH)) and just stock an assortment of those for all your connections. You will need the 'crimp terminators' (usually called "crimp terminals") for that, as well as a crimper (which is often expensive, but cheap universal ones/ebay specials can be had).

Extended answer:

Of course, it all depends on what you want to do. For a PCB-PCB connection, the obvious answer is a female header like this one. It's the counterpart to the .1" header you showed above. They are ideal for connecting a PCB; see the Arduino shields for examples. However, compared to the connector in your second image, they are much weaker, which is OK for two PCBs (you can put some #4 standoffs between them it if you need strength, but there's usually little force acting on them sitting in an enclosure or on a workbench). Of course, you can always just solder some wires onto the female one. That's your cheapest, easiest option. A little heat shrink around the pins and your wires will go a long way towards stopping breakages.

However, if you want to plug cables into your breadboard or other project the right way, for long-term stuff from your projects, you're going to need/want something different. You'll want a connector that is polarized, that has a reasonable insertion force, and some lock or click that verifies the connection is often nice. The other big difference is that the cables you connect to it have to be able to flex. The real-world answer to this is crimped connectors (Like the one you showed) and stranded wire (unlike the solid stuff on your breadboard, so it doesn't break at the connection point).
For this, I like the mini-JST (for 2-10 wires) and AMP-Latch (for 26, 34, 60+ wires) series. The mini-JST series will fit a breadboard (don't miss that the .098" will also fit in your Digikey searches). They have vertical (pulls out of breadboard) and right angle (works great!) headers to go into the same female cable-side connectors. In addition, you'll need a pack of these crimp terminals: Photo. The flying leads on the right go around the insulation, you strip off 3/16" of insulation for the short ones to grab, and the header pin goes in the spring-loaded socket. They're not bulky, but still easy to handle, quite durable in my experience, have a great assortment, and ... require a $440 crimp tool.
You'll find the crimp tool issue to be a problem. If your school/work has one, you can borrow that and make a bunch of crimped sections one day to bring home, but otherwise you just have to look for what other hobbyists. Try ebay. Alternatives like this 'universal' one from Molex will work, but if you're going to be in this for a long time, you'll want to find one designed for the connector you're using.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, just realized you had linked all Mouser parts. They don't carry JST brand, but I'm sure that they have similar offerings. Wasn't trying to convert you to Digikey or anything. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Vermeer Jun 19 '10 at 1:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the response. I've bought from digikey too, so it's cool. \$\endgroup\$ – mmccoo Jun 19 '10 at 6:24
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  1. how do I shop for these in the catalogs?

Search for "receptacle" and narrow down the parameters to Headers, Receptacles, Freehanging, Female Sockets, then further narrow your search by number of rows, positions, pitch, etc.

  1. how do I know if the crimp terminators (what's the proper term) are included?

If the catalog doesn't make it clear, call the distributor and find out. On Digikey, for instance, what you see in the picture is generally what you get.

  1. If they're not included, how do I spec those?

Check the data sheet. Some places make this easy - scroll down on this page and you'll see a list of header it mates to, as well as terminals that fit it.

  1. How do I actually connect these to my wires?

You'll need a crimping tool. The manufacturer crimping tools are generally expensive, but some places, such as Radio Shack in the US, have cheap generic crimping tools which work well enough for most uses. The one I use for prototyping is the Radio Shack 276-1595 that I've had forever.

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ [quote]The one I use for prototyping is the Radio Shack 276-1595 that I've had forever.[/quote] Yup, you can repurpose many crimpers to do other terminals. Generally, one step wraps the insulation, and a smaller one wraps the wire itself. Just be sure not to mash the box end of your terminal. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Vermeer Jun 19 '10 at 1:24
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I use these Harwin connectors.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What crimpers do you use with those? \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Vermeer Jun 19 '10 at 1:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've found that the low-cost ones sold for use with Molex KK terminals work, with care. The Harwin tool is expensive, I think. \$\endgroup\$ – Leon Heller Jun 19 '10 at 2:22
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The connector family you're looking for is quite tough to track down because it's made by many different companies under various brand names. The good news is that I've been using these in numbers for a long time and have done all the research.

I think the one you're looking for, i.e. those cheap things often found connecting the power switch/HDD LED to a mainboard is called "Mini-PV". Mini-PV has had various owners over the years, i.e. DuPont Connector Systems, Berg Electronics, and is currently owned by FCI as "Mini PV Basics"

Buying Mini-PV

Mouser, Farnell, Digi-Key and the rest all stock Genuine Mini-PV (i.e. manufactured by FCI) but this often isn't particularly cost efficient.

I'd recommend:

  • eBay knock offs. Search for (DuPont connector) there's heaps up there. You may have to do a few purchases to get a set of decent quality terminals/housings but the expenditure will still be low.

  • Reputable alternatives. Farnell sell some pretty good "own brand" Mini-PV knock-offs under the series "2226" - they're 100% mechanically compatible with the original FCI parts. The catalogue number for Farnell's own brand terminal is 1593529 (2226TG) http://uk.farnell.com/multicomp/2226tg/crimp-terminal-24-28awg/dp/1593529?Ntt=2226TG.

  • Heck. Just buy the original parts. I've noticed that the plastic in Genuine FCI connectors a lot more durable than the knock offs making them a lot easier to re-use, in particular, the tab which holds the terminal in is much less likely to snap off.

The male terminal, which is very useful for breadboard work, is unlikely to be found in any catalogues because it wasn't ever officially part of the Mini-PV range, as it is not designed to be a wire-to-wire connector system. eBay looks to be the only option here at present.

Crimping Mini-PV

This is a bit of a tricky one. Unlike Molex terminals where you can fork out £200 for an amazing performing ergonomic tool, no such options exist for Mini-PV. There's a few tools out there, none particularly ideal for cost or practical reasons.

  • FCI HT-95 ($$$) The official way is with FCI's HT-95 (sometimes listed as HT-0095). This tool costs a bank balance busting £1300 (USD 1700). I own this tool, it's good, but is it £1300 good? I'm not sure sure about that. It's quite clumsy to use and is easy to break its jaws during crimping and this tends to cost £100+ to repair each time. For the average hobbyist, forget it.

  • HT208A & HT213A ($$) These two tools are the historic official crimping tools and sometimes appear on eBay inexpensively. HT208A does larger wires (24AWG) and HT213A does fine wires (28AWG). I own both of them and if you can get one that doesn't have a busted jaw and is complete (i.e. has it's contact locator intact) then they're much better than HT-95 but repairing a busted jaw costs £250+. Overall though, I don't recommend either of these for casual use because finding a good one isn't easy.

  • Foehrenbach RCY21208 & RCY21213 ($) I've never used either of these tools but they appear to be a sensible contemporary option for a hobbyist who's got a bit of spare cash and would be a good investment for someone who does a lot of Mini-PV. Expect to be stiffed €300ish for these tools. RCY21213 does finer (28AWG) wire and is the only one you'd likely need. RCY21208 does 24AWG wire which is pretty big stuff, overkill for most applications using this type of connector.

  • Engineer PA-09 (Cheap) By far the most inexpensive crimping tool. Its jaw isn't particularly suited to crimping Mini-PV contacts and it does a bit of a messy job but I suspect the average hobbyist isn't likely to mind very much. Although this tool isn't great for Mini-PV it's very useful for a lot of other contacts and is worth owning for Hobbyists on a budget.

  • Other options (?) There is another likely Chinese made tool out there which does most of the crimping of Mini-PV, I can tell because every contact I've examined is crimped identically but distinctively different to what I see come out of HT-95 and HT2xxA but thus far I have not managed to identify it.

Crimping quirks As the Male terminal is unofficial, none of the official crimping tools will accept one. It's not impossible to modify an offical tool (As I have done) to accept male terminals, but a far easier option is to use a cheap tool like PA-09 where you can crimp whatever you please.

Noteworthy compatible connector systems

Molex CGRID III A series which is less common but close (Mates with Mini PV and is easy to obtain)

http://www.molex.com/molex/products/family?channel=products&chanName=family&key=cgrid_iii

I wouldn't recommend CGRID III because while they will mate with Mini-PV, the contacts and housings are a Molex design and are not interchangeable with Mini-PV i.e. you can't stuff CGRID III terminals in a Mini-PV housing and vice versa.

Having said that though, CGRID III is a lot more robust and features a fantastic Molex branded crimp tool which like all Molex crimp tools, is a dream to use.

TE .100 AMPMODU These appear to be a very similar design to CGRID III but I wouldn't count on any terminal interchangeability with anything.

Even more options

All the big guys: AMP/Tyco/TE Connectivity, Amphenol, JST etc have all produced a plethora of 2.54mm pitch connectors over the years all of which mate with Mini-PV but these are even less common, more expensive and once again, you'll end up having contact/housing compatibility problems so I'd say stick with Mini-PV or Molex CGRID III.

The crimp tools for the remaining options typically always run to four figures.

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For the Molex 47054-1000 connector pictured above, if you follow the "Data Sheet" link, it'll take you to the detail page for the part on the Molex site. On that page on the right, you'll see a couple of info boxes that say "mates with" (for the male/PCB side) and "use with" (for the terminals). From the links in those sections you'll get actual part numbers, but it appears that you have to strip off the leading 0 in order to successfully search Mouser for them.

The cheapest 2759 Series terminals I see on Mouser are $3 for 100. A 4-pin mate for your connector is this 47053-1000 header. It might be easiest to search the Molex site and then find the actual part on Mouser's site…

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