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3M MDR connectors (see here for details) seem to be a pretty common interconnect system. Has anyone tried making a few cables and boxes with these without buying the 3M tooling kit? Since the kit is $2000 (from e.g. Digikey) it would be nice not to have to buy this if I'm only hooking up a few things.

Specifically, I'm looking at their 50-pin connector with this cable. Is it feasible to connect these with nothing more than a decent soldering iron?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I've upvoted all answers instead of arbitrarily selecting one as "the" answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Mizumi Jan 31 '11 at 20:27
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Don't waste your time trying to solder them, it won't work. Most distributors will make up cables for you, it shouldn't be expensive. Or. choose a connector system that is easier and cheaper to assemble.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the heads up. Unfortunately I'm stuck with existing equipment that uses the MDR system, and I need to (1) break out a few of the channels, and (2) interface it with a [MillMax .050"][1] connector on the other end. I don't know of a distributor that can accomodate that... [1][alliedelec.com/search/productdetail.aspx?SKU=9002055] \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Mizumi Jan 27 '11 at 21:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd design a little PCB for that sort of thing. \$\endgroup\$ – Leon Heller Jan 27 '11 at 22:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ i'll second making a breakout board... \$\endgroup\$ – vicatcu Jan 27 '11 at 23:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, but the linked connector is a solder cup connector. It may not be possible to terminate it to a PCB. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf Jan 28 '11 at 7:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are also PCB mount versions of the connector. That would be the neat way of doing it; sounds like something I need to learn how to do. Thanks for the suggestions. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Mizumi Jan 31 '11 at 20:26
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The connector you linked to is specced as a Solder Cup connector, so it Should be possible to hand solder.

It may be a bit fiddly though.

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This looks perfectly solder-able to me. My record is soldering 80-pin cable, so your 50-pin one will eat less of your Patience. Also, you should think about finish insulation & look&feel :-)

Maybe heat shrink tube on each wire/connection...

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