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Master a perfect inline wire splice everytime

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In this instructable i will teach you how to make a perfect inline wire splice, every time

What is an inline splice?

Well, if you work with any type of electrical wiring, and need to join 2 pieces of wire you have 2 choices, pigtail or inline

Pigtail splices are when you hold the 2 pieces of wire, one end going up, the other going down, and twist their stripped ends together.

The issue with pigtails are...

1) They are ugly

2) They redirect the wire 180 degrees, so going from point A to B requires a sharp bend

3) After making that sharp bend you have this chunk of pigtailed wire flopping about, usually with a nice wad of gooey black tape, and sometimes a zip tie to act as a strain control

4) Since the connection is 180 degrees (or going the totally opposite direction) without some form of strain control, all it takes is a stout yank to sheer the connection (even with solder), altho honestly this is an extreme con

The pro's of pigtail's are
1) they are "easy"

Inline splices is where you take two pieces of wire, and join them in a nearly seamless extension of wire

Inline the issues with inline splices are ...
1) the are "hard" (and I claim shenanigans!)

The pro's of inline splices are
1) They are almost invisible, and look professional

2) They do not redirect the wires natural flow, going from point A to point B is just as simple as if you had the chance to place a wire from point A to point B

3) Since there is no bends in the wire, there is no chunks to manage, which is especially handy in tight situations or where you do not have a lot of wire to waste (ie: repairing wires in a vehicle)

4) they are really strong, even without solder bonding them (keeping in mind that they are not permanent, stress and vibration will eventually disconnect them without solder)







 
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PeterC213 days ago

Thanks for this information I used it last evening and the joints look pretty cool and I can feel a lot more confident about them. Cheers

joellindstrom3 months ago

Thanks for the well-explained wire splice. Just what I needed to fix an on-demand hot water heater.

peterlonz1 year ago
This is well executed work & the instructions are clear.
Love the pros & cons section.
Why have you not mentioned the alternative simple solderless solution of using a screw down in line connector. Each wire can be gripped by two screws & there is probably no need to make the twisted splice. Please comment.
yarrow1 year ago
First off, great info and thanks for sharing! I have a question regarding soldering and the heat shrink...I work with a lot of weather equipment, generally located in the middle of agricultural fields and battery powered, and often have to make quick repairs thanks to mice, deer, and other charming wildlife chewing through various wires. Could a splice like this be done without soldering, and with just electrical tape in place of heat shrink? I realize it would be less than ideal, but field conditions are rarely ideal.
Unsoldered connections in the field will often (tempted to say always) become intermittent, unless they are made with a professional ($$$) crimping tool. Solder is foolproof and cheap. A good cordless iron will help you solder perfect joints in the field. Butane fired irons will shrink your HST after you solder your connection. I prefer soldering with a good cordless electric and using a cheapo mini-torch (or lighter, or match) for shrinking HST. Soldering will insure your repair doesn't become intermittent after exposure to humidity allows corrosion to begin.
Cool!
This method of splicing has been around for many years, and is known as a Western Union splice.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_a_western-union_splice

As for lap soldering....yes, it works. But as the experts say, solder is not designed to make a mechanical connection - only an electrical one. Wires should be mechanically secured before soldering. A lap solder joint should not be used for heavy duty connections or heavy-duty use.
osgeld (author)  Jon Chandler4 years ago
we have discussed this in other comments WU splice is generally accepeted around here as being |||x||| and this is more like xxxxxxx googling the term western union splice turns up both, but the first one more often :)
pfred2 osgeld2 years ago
A Western Union splice is more like ---|||xxx|||--- so it is like the joint you are showing, but on each end the wire is wrapped 3 times around the other wire. Either that or my Radio Shack Dictionary of Electronics is wrong.
rfxcasey4 years ago
Just wondering what is wrong with simple lap soldering? When don't right they are very strong and quick to produce.
pfred2 rfxcasey2 years ago
If for some strange reason your wire heats up so much the solder melts your joint could come apart without a mechanical connection to keep it together. Then there is the issue that in order to do a lap joint you might have to hold 2 wires, a soldering iron, and solder, which is more hands than most of us have. But I do lap joints myself.
DeadlyDad4 years ago
FYI, if you use heatshrink tubing that contains an adhesive, then using this method will yield a neat and waterproof join.
CKOD DeadlyDad4 years ago
+1 to that, adhesive lined heatshrink is pretty much the best stuff ever.
pfred2 CKOD2 years ago
Until you want to take it off.
pfred22 years ago
Only every time you have enough wire to do it that is.
siafulinux2 years ago
Nicely done! Thanks.
My friends used have me wire thier amp because i never burnt one up simply because i insulated the wires and sldered where necessary these joints as i like call them twist up like a boobie lets call them wire joints western u8nion is so yesterday and RCA what have they done for me lately
This is "yesterday" technology. "Western union" describes the method rather than the splice itself. "Wire joints" sound vaguely "chronic".
cpo2 years ago
I love the "Your electronics enabled buddies will nod to you" bit!

LOL
I'm always using the "pigtail" connedction when wiring most things as it's easier to work with. I just overcome the "ugly" insulation by folding the connection over after soldering, and taping the connection to part of it's own length of wire. In fact, (seeing i hate working with heatshrink) i find taping "inline" connections more messy and prone to tape "sliding" along the wire and exposing the connection. It's just personal preference i guess, and when you're doing it all the time, you will develop your own quick method
Also, when soldering in line, or even in general, if you've got time, it does help to "tin" the ends and just solder them together rather than twisting them - as that degrades the integrity of the actual wire. It's good for proper professional connections - if you ever find yourself in such a situation.
qwertyboy4 years ago
Thank you so much for posting this. I was tired of all my connections coming apart easily and looking bad. With this method, the results look professional. In the photo, I had to add a LED inline with a fan to indicate when it was on. If I had tried to pigtail it, the results would have been bad. ~thanks~
DSC01362.jpg
TANZMEISTER4 years ago
Great information in the instructable! It might be helpful to add any notes about the soldering itself. Is soldering this splice any different then any other splice? A link that might be helpful to add, http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-solder/ thanks for the great work!
arcnemisis4 years ago
Personally the improvements that this can make in a install or project far outweigh the time consuming part. Sure the pigtail/wire nut/soldered/twisted joint is easy, but it looks bad. I have been doing these joints (WU and just inline wrap RCA) for years while others wimped out. I try to spread the word and show them. Good job showing others how to do it right and make some projects cleaner and less tape gooeyness to go around.
chndt20084 years ago
good!
richardcole4 years ago
nice trick and i think clean work is totally awesome... own heart satisfy when work to be done very well..
Pyro6674 years ago
hey thanks for making me feel like an idiot, J/K...well a little, I much cleaner than my usual method Thanks
This is great! I've done my share of electrical repairs over the years, and I've ALWAYS pigtailed. This seems like simple, common sense but it's hard to let go of habits. I did this once purely because I didn't have a wire nut and remember thinking how much more sense it made, but once properly supplied I went right back to pt without even thinking about it! Beats the hell out of those cheap inline "bullet" style connectors especially!
ssnipe4 years ago
From my experience: or you can use a "ENVIRONMENTAL BUTT SPLICE" its what we use in the aviation field works very well and weather proof might cost a bit more but a good investment. (quick google and might find a site like ...http://www.edmo.com/index.php?module=products&func=display&prod_id=18887 ... never bought or delt with them but its what im talking about)
sabr6864 years ago
Nice,thanks. I didn't know there was a name for this method. I just instinctively used this method to save on wire and tape!
steviebob5 years ago
Useful tutorial. Thanks.
V-Man7375 years ago
So simple! Everyone needs to know this. Thank you for sharing!
I have been searching for days now, and came upon this in a google search. I am hoping you could help solve this issue: I'm trying to redesign my home stereo system so that I can mount my new speakers. My problem is that I don't have enough inputs, so I am splicing a few wires here and there to make what is basically a patch panel for all my stuff. Normally, this isnt a problem for me, but it became one when I went to splice some of my spare cables, and realized some of them had 2 wires inside, and some had three... And no matter which way I would join them to their own kinds, somewhere along the line I would need to join some 2-wire to some 3-wire... Anyone got advice on this? The 2-wire ones have the inner coated wire surrounded by the first wire, and the 3-wire ones are just 3 separately coated wires covered by the outer coat... Any help would be greatly appreciated!
**UPDATE**

Ok... I went and took a slight nap. After I woke up, I started a bit of testing with some of this. Its not like the spare cable wasn't replaceable...

Anyways, this is what I found out after some testing:

The 3 wires in the one cable were colored Red, Yellow, and Black. The other cables, and previously mentioned, were one wire coated and surrounded by the 2nd. I scrolled through google a bit more and saw that black was pretty much the same as the wire surrounding the first one in the 2-wire cable.

So I twisted red and yellow together, and twisted that pair to the single inner wire on the other cable.

That worked, and pretty well. The only down side is that it is mono by default. Thats not a big issue for me, seeing as im going to mostly use this "patch panel" for linking more speakers to different places easily. I am pretty sure most of the speakers I have are one channel each... ('Course, if they are multi-channel by whatever freak chance, that'd be cool =D )

Anyways. Now I guess the bigger question to ask would be if its possible to make it a stereo splice... I have several ideas, but they dont make complete sense...

If you have any info, please let me know. I hope this little bit of info helps someone else, too!

(If you want me to take some pictures with detailed instructions on any findings I make, including this one, feel free to contact me... Not like I got much of anything else to do for a few weeks...)
secaman5 years ago
why dont you just lap joint solder them? all the twisting is not necesary
With lap soldering you have the chance of a cold solder joint since the wires are not physically tied together. I don't agree with the comment that a twisted joint has a higher resistance. Possibly yes if it's NOT soldered. As my old electronics instructor used to say, a good mechanical connect makes a good electrical connection. Lap connections are OK for a temporary joint, but I'd go with soldered twisted connections for something permanent. By all means don't twist wires together, wrap with tape, and run lamp wire under the carpet. I found exactly that in a hotel once. TWO sets of splices no less. And the manager couldn't car less about the complaint, nor did the corporate office. Wanna guess if I patronize that chain now? :-) By the way, those Scotch inline splices (the kind that you don't need to strip the wire) are not something you want to use in a car for anything under the hood, they WILL corrode and come back to haunt you!
osgeld (author)  darkride5 years ago
i do not agree with the higher resistance voice either the wires are spliced with a larger surface area, and then soldered 110% the way this splice actually decreases resistance (after taking it to work and jackin in a 50mhz kenwood o-scope) coiled wire resistance adds up when you INCREASE the lengh of the wire in a coil the increase in wire in the instructions above is ~1cm, and over that span the thickness of the wire doubles, increasing the thickness, and decreasing the resistance
Let me go all the way back to high school electrical practices class. When we were taught to do soldered 2 and 3-wire pigtails with solid 12-gauge, the instructor would then take two pairs of lineman's pliers and tear the joint apart. If there was not a clean copper-to-copper contact line, you failed. He explained that solder, being a combination of tin and lead, had inherently higher resistance than copper. Granted, these splices were intended for high voltage and high current, but I would say a soldered lap joint would have to be higher resistance than a twisted and soldered splice.
osgeld (author)  secaman5 years ago
Well, I guess it totally depends on your application when I'm at the breadboard I will just kinda tack wires on with a lap joint, the problem with that is, all thats holding the connection together is some surface tension and a thin layer of led / silver, and rarely last more than a couple weeks with me poking and prodding ... this is not really a good feeling when its on the wires going to your windshield wipers
secaman osgeld5 years ago
you could use a solderless crimp connector. faster
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