I recently obtained an electric typewriter and am trying to intercept the keyboard circuitry for an arduino project. The keyboard has a 17 pin ribbon cable that goes into a plastic connector on the main board. The holes are too small to fit any wires through and my soldering skills are not good enough to attach any wires to the solder points. The holes are a pretty standard spacing, and seem to line up spacing wise with the headers on my arduino.

My thought is I can solder a strip of header onto the board and just set the ribbon connector into the header. That doesn't solve my problem though, because I still can't connect extra wires to it. What I need is some kind of header strip that has an extra row of connectors to tap into the main set, or something like that.

Has anyone done anything similar to this, or have any tips, or know a part that may help me.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Can you give pictures and measurements, even a ruler can be pretty helpful if it is .1 inch spacing or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Nov 23, 2010 at 2:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Seconding the call for pictures; if this is a standard ribbon cable you can probably just add an IDC connector. \$\endgroup\$
    – phooky
    Nov 23, 2010 at 2:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ ok, I'll get pictures on when I get home tonight. But it is .1" spacing \$\endgroup\$
    – captncraig
    Nov 23, 2010 at 17:44
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Standard ribbon cable is 0.050" spacing \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick T
    Nov 24, 2010 at 16:43

1 Answer 1


You may use an new IDE connector and attach it on the ribbon cable (I'm supposing they are using the standard size of wires). This way you can create a derivation without damaging the cable.

Ribbon Cable Connector

Another good practice is to use a buffer for all the pins. I know its a bit costly but otherwise the input impedance could cause interference in the system.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is so simple and effective I never would have thought of it. \$\endgroup\$
    – AngryEE
    Nov 23, 2010 at 13:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Here's a tutorial on how to crimp these connectors: hubbard.engr.scu.edu/embedded/guide/ribbon \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2010 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ sorry, maybe ribbon cable is the wrong word. It is a thin sheet of plastic with tiny flat contacts running through it. \$\endgroup\$
    – captncraig
    Nov 23, 2010 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @captncraig: Do you mean a flat-flexible cable (FFC)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick T
    Nov 24, 2010 at 16:41

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