Author Topic: I found a new way to cut female pin headers  (Read 3430 times)

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Offline Back2Volts

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I found a new way to cut female pin headers
« on: June 24, 2017, 11:32:44 pm »
With a woodworking chisel and a hammer !   It may seem a little brutal but it works like a charm.   

I wrap a small piece of masking tape on the header.    I mark in between pins with a pencil, a little off to the waste side.   Then to the garage bench, a couple of wacks on each side over a wood block and it either just breaks or some bending will do it.  Then a bit of cleanup with the utility knife.    As always there is one pin wasted, but it is quick.

My previous method was using a small, very fine toothed, X-ACTO saw.   It works great but takes a little longer.

Tony
 

Offline sleemanj

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Re: I found a new way to cut female pin headers
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2017, 11:45:29 pm »
You simply need to score  with your craft/stanley/boxcutter knife (down the midline of the lost pin) and snap like a chocolate bar, clean up the end with knife. 
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Offline Back2Volts

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Re: I found a new way to cut female pin headers
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2017, 12:09:14 am »
When I do that, my knife has a tendency to end in some unwanted place after making the score.    I probably don't have the best control with my hands.
 

Online retrolefty

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Re: I found a new way to cut female pin headers
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2017, 12:49:49 am »
I just use diagonal cutters placed in the middle of the 'waste pin', then clean up with a small file. Takes maybe 10 seconds total.

 

Offline evb149

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Re: I found a new way to cut female pin headers
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2017, 02:02:31 am »
You can order headers in male and female varieties  that are specifically designed to facilitate manually breaking them off in arbitrary sized lengths.
Often they are called something like "breakaway" headers.  You usually don't lose a pin and either you need no tools (particularly for single row ones) or if you use tools something simple like a diagonal cutter or couple of needlenose pliers will do nicely.
Here are some examples.  The "break lines" are often visible as deep intentations in between the pins  in the designs of the plastic.
Usually I just find an inexpensive somewhat long size e.g. 20 pins x 1 or 2 rows and stock those and break them as needed.

https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/te-connectivity-amp-connectors/5176264-3/5176264-3-ND/2263375
https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/samtec-inc/SSA-132-S-T/SAM1122-32-ND/1105784
https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/samtec-inc/SSA-104-S-G/SAM1121-04-ND/1105780
https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/te-connectivity-amp-connectors/5176837-6/5176837-6-ND/2263379
https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/molex-llc/0015912060/WM17449-ND/614765
https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/te-connectivity-amp-connectors/5-146280-3/5-146280-3-ND/2275898
https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/molex-llc/0015912080/WM17450-ND/614766
https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/molex-llc/0022284361/WM50017-36-ND/313891
https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/molex-llc/0026481241/WM50007-24-ND/26884

I just use diagonal cutters placed in the middle of the 'waste pin', then clean up with a small file. Takes maybe 10 seconds total.
 

Offline DaJMasta

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Re: I found a new way to cut female pin headers
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2017, 02:07:06 am »
I've given up on trying to cleanly cut female headers from as trip (thought sized ones or breakaway female headers do exist), so I just figure I'm losing the pin I'm cutting at and then go back and whittle the remainder of the lost pin housing down for a nice edge on either side.
 

Offline edavid

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Re: I found a new way to cut female pin headers
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2017, 02:08:23 am »
You can order headers in male and female varieties  that are specifically designed to facilitate manually breaking them off in arbitrary sized lengths.
Often they are called something like "breakaway" headers.  You usually don't lose a pin and either you need no tools (particularly for single row ones) or if you use tools something simple like a diagonal cutter or couple of needlenose pliers will do nicely.

We know that, but we buy ultracheap header strips from China, and they don't seem to make the female snappable ones (odd, since the male snappables are common).  It's not really worth it to buy the female snappable strips from Samtec.

example: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free-shipping-10PCS-2-54mm-40-Pin-Stright-Female-Single-Row-Pin-Header-Strip-PCB-Connector/32807004983.html
« Last Edit: June 25, 2017, 02:11:49 am by edavid »
 

Offline evb149

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Re: I found a new way to cut female pin headers
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2017, 02:28:46 am »
Ah ok.  Well I don't usually get my headers from ebay / aliexpress / etc. so I'm not sure what they commonly have.
I just see the nice ones at digikey and use those since I'm probably ordering almost all the other IC / PCB parts I need from there also.
But you're right it is a bit frustrating to sometimes end up with some silly little plastic connector that is $2 or $3 that you know is probably equivalently able to be found for $0.5 somewhere if you only made a special order for that and waited 4 weeks for delivery from China...
JTAG headers and other somewhat particular size / characteristic headers are like that.  But SAMTEC is convenient / high quality and well documened  if also more expensive.

We know that, but we buy ultracheap header strips from China, and they don't seem to make the female snappable ones (odd, since the male snappables are common).  It's not really worth it to buy the female snappable strips from Samtec.

example: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free-shipping-10PCS-2-54mm-40-Pin-Stright-Female-Single-Row-Pin-Header-Strip-PCB-Connector/32807004983.html
 

Offline edavid

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Re: I found a new way to cut female pin headers
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2017, 02:45:12 am »
But you're right it is a bit frustrating to sometimes end up with some silly little plastic connector that is $2 or $3 that you know is probably equivalently able to be found for $0.5 somewhere if you only made a special order for that and waited 4 weeks for delivery from China...

A price multiple of 4-6X would be OK, but the China generic female strips actually cost 40X less than Samtec.  So, it's worth buying a few dollars worth to keep in stock.

« Last Edit: June 25, 2017, 02:47:54 am by edavid »
 

Offline mathsquid

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Re: I found a new way to cut female pin headers
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2017, 02:51:09 am »
I use a jeweler's saw for cutting headers, circuitboards, and anything else that is small and  needs to be cut precisely. It's incredibly useful, and pretty cheap.

https://www.amazon.com/NIUPIKA-Jewelers-Adjustable-Professional-Jewelry/dp/B01L1JXFDC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498358944&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=jeweler%27s+saw&psc=1

Offline evb149

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Re: I found a new way to cut female pin headers
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2017, 03:06:14 am »
Sounds nice.  I've used coping and hacksaws and a jigsaw for similar though still have to get a good set of precision / jewelry type saws and other tools.

At the more "gross" end of the spectrum I find that a good strong rotary (e.g. dremel) tool and some of the little "cut off wheels" (either metal mini circular saws, or abrasive mini round discs) work well on the bench for cutting almost anything small quickly (metal, hard plastic, wood, ...).  The bad quality (e.g. harbor freight) ones are useless though.

The down side is that it can melt soft plastics and make a smell sometimes and it can generate a lot of plastic / metal / abrasive / whatever dust which is polluting and sometimes problematic.  Not so recommended therefore for cutting PCBs by grinding with out due to the unpleasant type / amount of dust.

But if you're going to "lose a pin" anyway I can't imagine anything is faster than just using a good hefty pair of diagonal cutters with safety glasses and minding where the bits could go flying off to...

I use a jeweler's saw for cutting headers, circuitboards, and anything else that is small and  needs to be cut precisely. It's incredibly useful, and pretty cheap.

https://www.amazon.com/NIUPIKA-Jewelers-Adjustable-Professional-Jewelry/dp/B01L1JXFDC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498358944&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=jeweler%27s+saw&psc=1
 

Offline Back2Volts

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Re: I found a new way to cut female pin headers
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2017, 04:28:45 am »
I use a jeweler's saw for cutting headers, circuitboards, and anything else that is small and  needs to be cut precisely. It's incredibly useful, and pretty cheap.

https://www.amazon.com/NIUPIKA-Jewelers-Adjustable-Professional-Jewelry/dp/B01L1JXFDC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498358944&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=jeweler%27s+saw&psc=1

If you like to use a saw, you may want to try this one.   It is a new model of the one I have, which I have also used to cut headers

https://www.amazon.com/Xacto-X75320-Small-Mitre-Box/dp/B0000DD1O4/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1498364049&sr=8-3&keywords=x-acto+saw

You can get it without the mitre box.   Mine is an older model I have had it for 20-30 years and is still working.    It makes very fine, straight cuts.   I have never used it for FR4.   
 

Offline MLXXXp

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Re: I found a new way to cut female pin headers
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2017, 12:21:16 am »
If it's the standard cheap female headers designed to accept square male pins, you can easily pull out the metal connector of the "sacrificial" position by grabbing the solder pin with a pair of needle nose pliers and pulling. This makes cutting the remaining empty plastic shell easy with just a utility knife.
 
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