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I have a consumer device (More specifically a Pioneer P99RS car audio head unit) that I need to operate remotely, with the front panel about 3 meters away from the main unit. The front panel connects to the main unit through an 18 way 1mm pitch FFC cable. What I need to do is extend this FFC cable from its original 8cm to about 3 metres. I'm fairly certain data loss won't be a problem since (as far as I understand) communication is just a few low speed serial interfaces.

The FFC cable is soldered onto the front panel but is detachable from the main unit, thus I'm thinking the easiest thing to do would be just using some sort of a breakout board in each end, connecting one of the boards directly to the front panel, the other board to the main unit through a new FFC cable, and interconnecting the two boards with CAT5/6 cables. Does that sound reasonable to you guys, or are there better ways?

Where can I find breakout boards (Or other viable solutions!) for 18way 1mm ffcs? I found a few forum links etc but they're all old and mostly dead.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ One thing to be aware of is it might not work with such a long cable (3 meters). With a long cable, the capacitance and resistance of the connections will increase pretty significantly, and you may also have signal integrity issues. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf Mar 14 '13 at 7:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Low" speed serial lines can certainly have issues going 3 meters if it wasn't designed to do that originally. I would put the odds of failure on this project fairly high, around 70-80%. Only proceed if you are OK with possibly destroying your unit in the process. \$\endgroup\$ – user3624 Jun 11 '13 at 18:21
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I've used Proto Advantage with success in the past. Specifically, you could buy the 20-pin (or less) FFC-to-DIP adapter and give them a Digikey part number for an 18-pin FFC connector, and they will assemble everything and then ship it to you. The adapter boards that I received from them were nicely done.

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If you can buy surface mount connectors for the FFC's it would be fairly simple to make your own custom breakout board. You could either have it made in around two weeks for a few dollars by a prototype service such as OSH Park, or you could make it yourself using toner transfer etch resist techniques.

Another possibility for a one-off if you can source spare FFC cables cheaply would be to carefully split one apart for several inches with scissors or a knife and simply splice each wire.

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