[Martin] sent this query, along with the lead photo, into the tip line, and he makes a good point. Most development and evaluation boards have multiple rows of pin headers, often arriving loose in the package — soldering is left to the user. In an abundance of caution, we usually design our prototype boards with many pin headers for debugging and testing. But as [Martin] reminds us, there are other alternatives to solder.
- Yours truly once worked with a prolific designer of PIC microprocessor boards. Long before the advent of solutions like the Tag Connect family, [Ralph] would program his boards by just inserting a pin header into the PCB and applying gentle pressure with his thumb until the code finished flashing.
- You may have seen the staggered offset PCB patterns that hold your pin header securely while you solder. You could tweak this a little bit to put more pressure on the pins, making a solder-less connection that is sufficient for temporary testing.
- Taking the opposite approach, you can get solderless connectors with press-fit pins, a method we tested a few years ago on a Raspberry Pi Zero. Anyone who has worked on Eurocard-based systems like VME can appreciate the time-savings and improved reliability of 96-pin DIN-41612 press-fit connectors.
- Or, as [Martin] proposes, you could use one of these inexpensive pogo-pin clamps. These are available for less than $10 from your favorite Asian electronics distributor. They are about the size of a large clothespin, and are available in several different pin configurations.
Tag-Connect Style of Connector
Uncle Pete’s Footprint Experiments, Sparkfun
Press-FIt 96-Pin DIN
Pogo-Pin Clamp Fixture
These techniques won’t help you if you need to plug your board into another card, such as a hat onto a Raspberry Pi. But when you just want to grab a few signals for a serial port or probing some digital I/O signals, having a few of these clips in your tool box can save you the time and headache of soldering down a header. Do you have any tips for making soldering pin headers easier, or even avoiding them altogether? Let us know in the comments below.
In the dawning of the IBM PC era, the computer case was a heavy, stout thing. These were industrial machines, built with beefy paddle power switches, and weighing as much as a ton of bricks. Painted in only the ugliest beige, they set the tone for PC design for the next couple of decades.
At the turn of the millennium, the winds of change swept through. The Apple iMac redefined the computer as a hip, cool device, and other manufacturers began to reconsider their product aesthetics. Around the same time, the casemodding scene took off in earnest, with adherents building ever wilder battle stations for internet clout and glory.
With all the development that has gone in the last 40 years of the PC platform, we’ve seen great change and improvement in almost every area. But in building a new rig this past month, this writer discovered there’s one element of the modern PC that’s still trapped in the past.
Continue reading “PC Cases Are Still Stuck In The Dark Ages, But We Can Fix This” →
Radio, WiFi and similar modules are getting smaller by the day. Trouble is, they end up having non-DIY-friendly, odd pitch, mounting pads. Sometimes, though, simple hacks come around to help save the day.
[Hemal] over at Black Electronics came up with a hack to convert odd-pitch modules to standard 2.54mm / 0.1″. The process looks simple once you see the detailed pictures on his blog. He’s using the technique to add 2mm pitch modules like the ESP8266 and XBee by soldering them to standard perf board. Once they are hooked to the board, just add a row of male header pins, trim the perf board and you’re done. Couldn’t get simpler.
Another technique that we’ve seen is to solder straight across the legs and cut the wire afterward. That technique is also for protoyping board, but custom-sized breakout boards are one good reason to still keep those etchants hanging around. If you have other techniques or hacks for doing this, let us know in the comments.
Solder Your Pin headers Straight
If you’re worried about how to solder your pin headers straight, why not try this simple trick and put them into a breadboard before soldering?
Etiquette for Open Source Projects
If you use or develop open source projects, it’s worth checking out [Phillip Torrone]’s Unspoken rules of Open Source article. You may not HAVE to do all the things he says, but it’s certainly a good starting point for being ethical with your hacks.
The [GoAmateur] Camera Mount
If you can’t afford a professional camera mount for your bike, why not make one yourself? As pointed out in the article, normal cameras aren’t really made for this, so do so at your own risk. If this isn’t shoddy enough for you, why not make a mount for your 4 year old dumb-phone (Env2) out of a block of wood?
A 3D Printer BOM
If you’re wondering how much a 3D printer will cost you, or where to source the parts, this Bill of Materials for a Prusa Mendel should help. We would assume this project will be updated as everything is built, so be sure to check back!
MakerBot Assembly Time-Lapse
Along the same lines, if you’re wondering about getting into 3D printing, this time-lapse of the Thing-O-Matic being assembled may give you some insight into what’s involved in getting one functional!