[sdiy] 0.100 pin header reliability.

Cary Roberts cary.roberts at retrosynth.net
Fri Nov 12 07:57:23 CET 2010

>Do any of you have an opinion on the long-term reliability of 0.100
>connectors like these;
>Anybody got any real-world advice?

Here's my advice gleaned from real world experience with my synthesizer
collection.  I will also note that I specify connectors for high volume
server and consumer hardware for my day job.

My first declaration is that any connector is failure prone if not used with
proper tooling.  Most of the crimpers I have cost in excess of $250.  This
includes tooling for Molex 2.54mm, 2mm, MiniFit Jr, and PicoBlade
connectors, Tyco MTA 100 and 156 connectors, and JST 2mm connectors.  The
Tyco 696202-1 Super Champ tool is barely passible for any of the
aforementioned connectors and it costs $90.  Some folks get by with the Tyco
59803-1 for MTA 100 connectors but I don't find that it makes for reliable
connections.  In fact, the only cheap crimper that comes to mind that does a
half way decent job is an IDC hand crimper for dual row .1" headers with
.050" flat cable.  They're available for $15 and if you have Eurorack stuff
they're handy for making power cables too.

One could (and should) look to how various connector types have held up on
30+ year old synthesizers and audio equipment.  

.1" dual row headers like those on the Prophet 5, OBXa, OB8, etc have held
up well.

.1" single row headers on Roland equipment have held up well and don't seem
prone to oxidization. 

.062" Molex connectors used on Oberheim SEMs are still holding up well.

.156" gold plated finger edge cards hold up extremely well. (API, Neve,
computers, etc)

Soldered stranded wire with non-corrosive flux.

EDAC 38/56/90/120 connectors are made of win. (patchbays, recording

ITT Cannon DL connectors are made of win. (patchbays, recording consoles)

.1" tin plated Tyco/AMP MTA connectors used for critical CVs on the
memorymoog are prone to oxidization and are utter fail.

.156" round pin headers like those used on the motherboards of the OBX,
OBSX, and OBXa are very prone to oxidation and are utter fail.

.1" x .3" DIP style headers like those used on the memorymoog are frail,
sockets are prone to oxidization, and are utter fail.

.1" single row Dean's connectors like those on the Voyetra 8 can be

.1" FPC cables like those used on later Sequential and some Akais can
fracture and break.

Cheap .156" tin plated headers can fail in less than a year if poorly made.
(see Digidesign 002 and 002R)

Soldered stranded wire with corrosive flux.

Soldered solid core wire with corrosive or non-corrosive flux.

_ANY_ crimp connector that has been soldered.

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