I am working on a complex project that required me to a cable for a set of addressable LEDS. I am documenting the other project very thoroughly as part of a residency at Signal Culture in Owego NY. I thought I would share my process on the creation of this cable.
WS2812B LED (Neopixel) Strips are individually addressable LED strips. These are awesome tools. The ability to program each LED individually using only one data line is amazing. The pad on the strips allow you to solder directly to this semi-flexible PCB, but I find that a little cumbersome. Here's how I make modular hookups for these types of strips or the older 4-pin style of addressable strips.
Step 1: Mats
The materials needed. The links below are for reference only for the following specific items. The pictures above show the equipment I used.
Hardware and Consumables
- solder (ex. http://www.amazon.com/Elenco-Lead-Solder-0-031-Science/dp/B009YKISMY)
- header pins (ex. http://www.amazon.com/Single-11MM-Male-Header-Strip/dp/B008G8YTUA)
- shrinktube (ex. http://www.amazon.com/URBEST%C2%AE328-Assorted-Shrink-Colors-Tubing/dp/B00W70KOQG)
- dupont jumper wires female to male (ex.http://www.amazon.com/Jumper-female-200mm-length-50pcs/dp/B00AC4NQYG )
- solder wick (ex. http://www.amazon.com/Aven-17542-Desoldering-2-5mm-Length/dp/B017ODKIPC )
- Flush Cutting Pliers (ex. http://www.amazon.com/Hakko-CHP-170-Stand-off-Construction-21-Degree/dp/B017ODDPNO )
- Solder Iron (ex. http://www.amazon.com/Vastar-Adjustable-Temperature-Soldering-additional/dp/B014KBIB3M)
- locking tweezers (ex. http://www.amazon.com/Self-closing-Tweezer-Stainless-Steel-Long/dp/B013WRKQVU)
- heat gun or matches (ex. http://www.amazon.com/Wagner-0503008-HT1000-200-watt-Heat/dp/B00004TUCV )
Step 2: The .10 Header Pins Match Up With the Strip Very Nicely.
As you can see the spacing of the header pins matches the flexible PCB very nicely. Break off a three pin group for this type flexible PCB (or the correct number for the application).
I recommend that you tin the pads with a little solder before you clamp the header pins to the PCB. It can be tricky to get the solder to flow under the if you don't do this. This can lead to you over heating the pins and melting them out of the plastic base. You just need a little solder, a flat application. I got a little too much so I used the solder wick to suck up most of it.
While you are at it tin the pins too. The short ones. This will make everything more likely to go quickly.
Line it up carefully and use the clamping tweezers on each side to help keep it in place while you solder the middle pin. Note: the pics don't show the pre-tinned pads and pins.
After I finished soldering I used the wick again to clean up the extra solder.
Step 3: Get Out the Female/male Jumpers to Make a Cable
The Dupont jumpers fit on the header pins securely and neatly.I like this better than a servo cable because it allows the far end to be ported to separate areas of the microcontroller. I use the female dies to attach to the pins we installed on the PCB and the male ends will go to the breadboard or microcontroller ports.
I chose jumper in red, black and yellow which is a common encoding for to power, ground and data(signal).
Use the flush cutting pliers to cut a small piece of shrink tube just big enough to slide over the plastic housings of the jumpers. Slide it up to center it on the housings then zap it quickly with a heat gun lit match etc. This should shrink to make a bond together the ends of these jumpers. You could use a little hot glue or super glue to stabilize this further.
Step 4: Test It Out
Last thing of course is to follow hook up your device and admire your awesome cable you made. WooHOOO!
Thank you for reading.