You might notice that many of my writings start with “Back in the day”. Not wanting to disappoint I will say that back in the day we used to use wire wrap technology when we needed a somewhat solid, somewhat reliably assembly. Given a readable schematic a good tech could return a working or near-working unit in a day or two depending on the completeness and accuracy of the schematic.
Properly done a wire wrap assembly is capable of fairly high speed and acceptable noise when the alternative option of creating a custom PCB would take too long or not allow enough experimentation. Wire wrap is also used in several types of production, from telco to NASA, but I am all about the engineer’s point of view on this.
My first wire wrap tool and wire wrap wire came from Radio Shack in the mid 1970’s. I still have the wire, because frankly its kind of cheap wire and I use it when it’s the only thing I can reach quickly when I need to make a jumper on a PCB. The tool is still around also, given the fact that I can’t find it at the moment the one shown here is my new wire wrap tool which is good for low quantity wrapping, unwrapping and stripping.
The skinny little wrap tool is okay for hobbyist as the wraps are fine with a little practice. But I do recommend investing in high-quality wire. A common wire available is Kynar® coated, a fluorinated vinyl that performs well as an insulator.
Before I go too much further, here’s the video walkthrough of wire wrap, its uses, and several demonstration. But make sure you also join me after the break where I cover the rest of the information you need to start on the road to wire wrap master.