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I've been working with Arduinos for the past couple of days, and one of the things that I've really appreciated from the Arduino Uno is that it has very conveniently placed headers, allowing for very simple prototyping. I'm trying to move towards a more permanent setup, however, and I've learned that most connections are made by soldering onto perfboard (or, my plan is to use Adafruit's perma-proto boards). My plan for this is to use some of the standard insulated wire that I've been using (found here), cut these down to the size I need, strip the ends off, and then solder them through the perfboard. I'm fairly certain this will work, but I am still trying to figure out how this is done in practice.

So this would most likely work for permanent connections, but not for a use case that I have in mind. In this use case, while most of the circuit can be permanently done in this way, a small couple of cables must be detachable, and I've wanted to use headers for this reason. My plan is to solder a header directly to the perfboard (or indirectly, through another soldered wire), creating a "plug" for a wire to connect to the specific place on the board (as no wire fits snugly into the actual hole). However, almost all of the headers that I've found online such as this are in packs of 6 or 12 (probably to fit standard connections for peripherals or other parts). I'm needing to create a custom array of these headers, and I can't use these as they put the wires too close for the desired effect. What is the standard way in practice to have exposed headers that can be attached, one-by-one, to a perfboard?

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    \$\begingroup\$ You seem to be wanting an individual socket, rather than plug (receptacle rather than pin). Can you clarify why you want a receptacle rather than a pin on the board, or have I misunderstood? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ian Bland
    Oct 13, 2022 at 3:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ so I actually have been thinking about this since I wrote the post. initially, my plan was to simply have this socket, receptacle, header, thing to be placed on my housing, and then solder a wire all the way from it to the perfboard, which I believe I do know how to do. I'm realizing that this is somewhat roundabout though; I could just set up a female to male wire, where the male side attaches to the perfboard and the female side is what's placed on the housing... would this work? \$\endgroup\$
    – Daneolog
    Oct 13, 2022 at 3:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Daneolog Are these detachable cables just so you can remove an connector mounted on the enclosure from it's connection to the board? If so, screw terminals are the way to go if you want bare ended wires. But usually you would use female crimps on the wire and male headers on the board. \$\endgroup\$
    – DKNguyen
    Oct 13, 2022 at 3:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ A more permanent setup is usually made with a custom PCB. Perfboard is almost always just for prototyping these days, when you can get a fully custom four-layer PCB for like $20 plus shipping. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Oct 13, 2022 at 5:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are many types of connectors other than pin headers. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 13, 2022 at 11:53

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Use Digikey or Mouser for parts.

The usual approach to this to solder a male header pin onto the PCB and crimp a female contact with a crimp housing onto the wire.

Female contacts are more popular on the wire while male contacts are more popular on the PCB. The nature of the female contact needing to lead to a pin make the female header more complicated than the male header whereas the male contact is already a pin. On the wire side, the female crimp contact is simpler than the male because the female contact is already hollow so naturally suits crimping around a wire whereas the male contact does not.

Square 0.100" female PCB headers do not come in breakaway form. The positions are separated by thin walls that you can't cut through cleanly unlike the male PCB headers which are just solid plastic. However, you can just take electronic nippers and nip them apart. It won't be a clean break between positions like a male header but it will work. Just cut in the middle straight through a position, toss out the loose female contact inside and clean up the housing edges.

If you insist on female headers in breakaway form, they can be had if you look at the round pin variety known as machine sockets. However, they are too small to fit 22AWG wire if I recall. But some smaller AWG wire should fit. I do not know off the top of my head though if 24AWG would fit or if you would require something smaller.

But one alternative if you want to avoid crimping or want a more secure connection is to screw terminals. They are available in 0.100" sizes. But no breakaway here. You need to buy the number of positions you need.


0.100"/2.54mm pitch square headers use 0.025"/0.635mm square pins. There is no general name; Just a description.They go by many names under different companies and some companies have multiple lines that are compatible...it's kind of a pain to be honest. It's the same scenario with the male square headers but you haven't noticed because they are so common.

Best just to use the Mouser or Digikey search. You can also dig around on a company's website and follow the trail from the male header which is most common to the crimp housing, female crimp contacts, female headers, and MALE crimp contacts (yes, those exist too and use the same crimp housing as the female). Here is a sample from Molex:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

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  • \$\begingroup\$ thank you very much for the answer! so this is what I have been suggested to do, simply cut the long pieces of header into smaller ones, but I had been wanting to use what's basically the "standard" technique or process when creating these things as I know that what I'm creating has probably been done thousands of times in the past, so I've been wondering exactly why I couldn't find the breakaway, as you say, female headers. is there any reason for this or is what I'm trying to do impractical? \$\endgroup\$
    – Daneolog
    Oct 13, 2022 at 3:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's the construction of the female header. THe positions are separated by thin walls that you can't cut through cleanly. Most people do the opposite: Male headers on the board and female crimp housings on the wire. The nature of the female contact needing to lead to a pin make the female header more complicated than the male header whereas the male contact is already a pin. On the wire side, the female crimp contact is simpler than the male because the female contact is already hollow so naturally suits crimping around a wire whereas the male contact does not. \$\endgroup\$
    – DKNguyen
    Oct 13, 2022 at 3:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can also use screw terminals. They are available in 0.100" pitch sizes. \$\endgroup\$
    – DKNguyen
    Oct 13, 2022 at 3:47

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