Introduction: DIY Hook Up Wire

About: Not a hacker, just a hack.
I'm meticulous when I lay out a circuit on a breadboard. I mock it up on the computer first, and cut every jumper wire to size so everything lays nice and flat. However, there are times when you need to have a longer connection using a stranded-core wire. To go between boards, to connect points that are far apart, or to connect a circuit board to a breadboard.

I decided to make up some hook up wires rather than laying out some money for commercial ones.

My goals for the build were:
  • easy to use
  • durable
  • professional-looking, and
  • cheap!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

This won't require much in the way of materials and tools. Chances are, if you've got the supplies to make a circuit, you've got what you need for these wires.

  • solid-core wire (22ga or so)
  • stranded-core wires (I harvested mine from old, unused phone connectors)
  • 1/8" dia. heat shrink tubing
  • small paper clip
  • solder
  • soldering iron
  • needle-nose pliers
  • solder
  • utility knife or wire strippers
  • lighter or heat gun
  • helping hands

Step 2: Prepare the Ends

Each length of stranded wire will have a termination of solid core wire. If you've got male pin headers around, feel free to use those instead. I always try to conserve my supplies, and I have more solid core wire than male pin headers, so I opted to make the terminations myself.

Strip approximately 3/4" of insulation off the solid core wire. Unfold the paper clip slightly, then use your pliers to hold the wire against the paper clip, and carefully wrap two turns or so around the paper clip wire. Finally, cut off the excess wire, and bend the straight part 90 degrees, leaving you with one end ready for use. Now do it a second time for the other end of the wire.

Step 3: Attach the Ends

Use your helping hands to hold the end. Heat it up with your soldering iron, and add some solder to the coiled part until it turns silvery.

Strip about 3/8" off the stranded wire, heat up the end again, and insert the stranded wire into the coil. Push it so that the insulation makes contact with the coil and softens, then remove the soldering iron and let it cool. Bend the extra stranded wire sticking up back on itself.

Then repeat the process again for the other end.

* sorry for the poor focus in some of the photos. My camera didn't like having a white background. I added some text on a sheet of paper in some of the later shots, which seemed to help it focus.

Step 4: Add Heat Shrink, Then You're Done!

Cut a short length of heat shrink for each end. Slide it on, and warm it up using your preferred method.

That's it - you're finished!