Author Topic: Do people not wire wrap anymore?  (Read 5830 times)

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Offline Beamin

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Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« on: April 23, 2018, 03:27:41 am »
I know when I was a kid back in the 90's that's how I made everything. Still today I do that. Although I see almost no one doing that on you tube. Also just buying the little tool cost 30.00$ just for one size wire! I remember the tools used to be throw away cheap too not 60$ for the two sizes you need. Is it because now everyone has laser printers and at home PCBs?
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Offline gnif

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2018, 03:41:24 am »
I never learnt to use wire wrap, but did see examples of it in my dad's electronics junk box when I was a child. I went straight for strip board and kynar wire for prototyping, all soldered. Technically not wire wrap but using the wire :)
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Offline georges80

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2018, 03:57:00 am »
1) Most modern components are surface mount.
2) Modern components often run at much higher clock speeds thnt the 'good old days'.
3) Cost of high quality PCBs is considerably cheaper than the 'good old days' and the design/layout tools are cheap/free. Turn around time is also just days or a week at most.

There are other reasons but the above pretty well makes wirewrapping obsolete. I'm glad to have left that way behind me. I wirewrapped many a z80 based computer way back when. Also a few 16bit/32bit machines. Getting a machine running reliably at 10MHz was challenging enough.

For the cost of a wirewrap tool + wirewrap sockets + decent wirewrap board you could do a PCB and get it delivered for less money and a better result. I'd rather do the schematic/layout than sit for hours going zip zip zip with an electric wirewrap gun.... With a PCB I can build 2 units or 3 units or .... The only use I have for wirewrap wire is for reworking/tweaking a design.

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Offline NiHaoMike

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2018, 04:07:59 am »
And instead of building logic circuits out of individual 74xx chips, you can write some Verilog or VHDL and load it onto a FPGA.
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Offline jmelson

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2018, 04:18:35 am »
I still make test fixtures and adapters with wire wrap.  But, for anything with more than a couple ICs worth of logic, I will repurpose one of my CPLD or FPGA boards to do all the logic, but might use wire-wrap to connect it to the outside world.

There's just no sense to wire up a bunch of 74xx chips today.

Jon
 

Offline ajb

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2018, 04:22:47 am »
I've wire-wrapped a couple of small things, but obviously you can't wire wrap SMT parts without a bunch of adapter boards--plus wirewrap sockets are expensive these days!  So for perfboard stuff I much prefer the ELM method.  I usually use a DIP-form factor carrier PCB for the MCU--there are plenty of cheapo ebay options for STM32 parts, and I've designed a few myself for others.

But really, anything of any complexity or that I might ever want to do more than one of gets a custom PCB.
 

Online Brumby

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2018, 04:29:54 am »
I moved from the spring clips of the Philips EE20 kit to Veroboard and soldering iron.

I had seen wire wrap, but wasn't too sure about it.  That was until I read an article that described the process and the reasoning behind it which gave clarification to the reliability aspect.

To this day I have never done any wire wrapping (well, of the kind discussed here  ;) ), I don't have - and never have had - any such wire or a tool.  I will admit to having some wire-wrap sockets, though.  (They came in a grab bag.)
 

Offline NiHaoMike

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2018, 04:33:45 am »
There's just no sense to wire up a bunch of 74xx chips today.
I'm doing just that to make a controller for a bidirectional DC/DC converter. (Actually using 4000 series because that part of the logic runs on 12V.) A FPGA or CPLD would not be able to meet the very low standby/pass through power goal of 1mA or less, plus it would require level translation.
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Offline thermistor-guy

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2018, 06:01:56 am »
I'm using wire-wrap now to build some custom test jigs, for some low-frequency calibration work. About 500 connections in total. Since this is a prototype, the connections must be reliable but changeable - wire-wrap meets the requirements. The connectors are fastened directly to steel plate (for various reasons). There is no PCB in the jig.

But back in the day, I saw high-speed ECL graphics cards that were wire-wrapped (two-level, not the usual three-level). The cards were used in industrial minicomputers.  If you know what you are doing, you can use wire-wrap it for high speed (ground plane construction, Schottky diode terminations on long clock lines, etc.).
 

Offline floobydust

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2018, 06:26:26 am »
It was expensive (IC sockets, WW tool) and then WW a capacitor or resistor and you might as well just use solder anyway.
A PLCC wire-wrap socket was very hard to find. 28-30AWG seems to crap out at around 20MHz for CPU bus I did.
Wire-wrap was popular amongst students years ago, for project courses.
 

Offline IanMacdonald

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2018, 06:47:49 am »
Wire wrapping was another of those products which was 'hyped' without being properly evaluated. Its key problem is that if a connection needs changing then any other wires on top of that connection have to be removed first, and replaced after. Which can soon develop into a domino effect since the wires removed are now too short to be reused, so any wires on top of the other ends also need to be replaced, and so on.
 

Offline daveshah

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2018, 06:51:05 am »
I'm doing just that to make a controller for a bidirectional DC/DC converter. (Actually using 4000 series because that part of the logic runs on 12V.) A FPGA or CPLD would not be able to meet the very low standby/pass through power goal of 1mA or less, plus it would require level translation.

The level translation issue I accept, but for future reference something like a MachXO2 or an iCE40 have static currents way below 1mA (<100µA), so FPGAs aren't always power hungry.
 

Offline NiHaoMike

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2018, 07:18:01 am »
I'm doing just that to make a controller for a bidirectional DC/DC converter. (Actually using 4000 series because that part of the logic runs on 12V.) A FPGA or CPLD would not be able to meet the very low standby/pass through power goal of 1mA or less, plus it would require level translation.
The level translation issue I accept, but for future reference something like a MachXO2 or an iCE40 have static currents way below 1mA (<100µA), so FPGAs aren't always power hungry.
Plus the quiescent current of the regulator and level translation circuits. Not to mention that the part of the logic I'm implementing in 4000 series (just a few gates plus two flip flops) is very simple and a FPGA would be overkill. The function is very simple - just pass through the main drive signal (from the PIC via a level shifter) for the mode of operation while the synchronous rectification signal is gated off by the current crossing (near) zero until the next cycle. And implement overcurrent protection for the MOSFETs that works by gating off the drive signals and signaling to the PIC that an overcurrent trip has occurred.
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2018, 08:11:31 am »
Wire wrapping was another of those products which was 'hyped' without being properly evaluated. Its key problem is that if a connection needs changing then any other wires on top of that connection have to be removed first, and replaced after. Which can soon develop into a domino effect since the wires removed are now too short to be reused, so any wires on top of the other ends also need to be replaced, and so on.

No, it wasn't hyped. Wirewrapping was designed to be a high reliability interconnection technique that could be modified on infrequent occasions. It succeeded in those objectives.

It had limitations in the prototyping environment, particularly for those people that connected first and thouht afterwards. With thought and care it wasn't too bad for prototyping, and certainly more accessible than PCBs in the 70s and 80s.

The real killer was the pins act as stubs, which is very problematic for high speed logic.
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2018, 08:27:11 am »
Wirewrap is a current production technique, e.g.


Wirewrap has been superceded for prototyping for many solid reasons.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 08:29:57 am by tggzzz »
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Offline bob225

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2018, 08:56:29 am »
Wire wrap still has its uses - I have just repaired a control board what was in 5 pieces, as I could not get a replacement pcb for love nor money

once in a blue moon I will bind cables together with it
 

Offline joeqsmith

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2018, 10:32:15 am »
I've used WW many times over the years because of the high costs of PCBs.  In the 80's I had a slit wrap gun that used a Teflon wire.     When I decided to design and build a better transient generator, I thought it would be fun to revisit the past and use WW with an old Motorola controller.   

Several WW projects I built are still operational today.
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Online rstofer

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2018, 03:13:43 pm »
Wire wrapping was another of those products which was 'hyped' without being properly evaluated. Its key problem is that if a connection needs changing then any other wires on top of that connection have to be removed first, and replaced after. Which can soon develop into a domino effect since the wires removed are now too short to be reused, so any wires on top of the other ends also need to be replaced, and so on.

But, of course, we never wrapped it in a daisy chain.  We always wired the bottom level first (pin 1 to pin 2 and pin 3 to pin 4) and then the top level (pin 2 to pin 3).  Still, that doesn't make rework a lot of fun.

I go back a long way with computers ('70) and it was very common for major components (like line printers and card readers) to be wire-wrapped.  Among other things, the logic could be a lot denser with wire-wrap than with a PCB when those were made from taped layouts and photography

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http://www.computerhistory.org/projects/ibm_1620/ibm1620/PAGES/photos_miscellaneous.html

Even if the individual cards were printed, the backplane would still be wire-wrapped.

There was a time before CAD and things worked pretty well despite the lack.

I have built projects as large as 100 ICs with wire-wrap.  I don't want to do it again but I certainly have the Gardner-Denver Cut-Strip-Wrap gun for doing it.

I can wire-wrap a 32 bit register with 32 input wires, 32 output wires, a clock and reset signal to  8 4-bit register chips OR I can write one line of code to create the register and a wee bit more typing to 'wire' it up.

 

Offline jmelson

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2018, 06:38:40 pm »
Wire wrapping was another of those products which was 'hyped' without being properly evaluated. Its key problem is that if a connection needs changing then any other wires on top of that connection have to be removed first, and replaced after. Which can soon develop into a domino effect since the wires removed are now too short to be reused, so any wires on top of the other ends also need to be replaced, and so on.
IBM 360 and 370 computers had interconnect on the "boards" that held the circuit cards.  An additional layer of interconnect plus field changes and option jumpering was done in wire wrap.

Plug-compatible mainframes made by at least one company (National Advanced Systems) were all built out of massive wire-wrap panels covered with DIP chips.  So, the entire CPU was wire-wrapped.  Several minicomputers were also made with wire-wrap.

The phone company developed wire wrap in the 1950's (I think) for making connections between phone switches and the junctions to the subscriber wiring plant.

So, wire-wrap was NOT "hyped" it was a VERY mainstream manufacturing technology.

Jon
 

Offline jmelson

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2018, 06:41:48 pm »
Oh, some links !

http://pico-systems.com/stories/1982.html

http://pico-systems.com/stories/1982b.html

There are some larger projects that I wire-wrapped! (But, that was quite a while ago!)

Jon
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 09:07:26 pm by jmelson »
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2018, 06:46:37 pm »
Wire wrap is still used for building test fixtures, I visited a company not long ago that was using it. I don't think it gets used much for hobby prototyping since there are other easier options around but I'd still like to wire wrap a single board 8 bit computer sometime just for fun.
 

Offline georges80

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2018, 06:47:52 pm »
... and then there was multi-wire. Seems to still exist.

http://www.hitachi-chemical.com/products_pwb_05.htm

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Offline Neilm

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2018, 07:23:32 pm »
Some test fixtures are still designed to use wire wrapping. I know at work the ICT units are wire wrapped.
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Offline james_s

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2018, 07:31:42 pm »
Wasn't it widely used in telephone exchanges too? Those are pretty much a thing of the past but there were a whole lot of them up into the 1990s.
 

Offline GerryBags

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Re: Do people not wire wrap anymore?
« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2018, 11:02:51 pm »
I've never used WW, but it seems as though it would be much easier to check lots of points with a 'scope than it is with a bread-boarded circuit. Once there are a few jumper wires dotted around the place it can hard to find somewhere to clip on a probe. Admittedly, this is without the experience necessary to know the best way to arrange common combos of ICs to optimize interconnecting them.

OT -  I see Dave's or Shariah's breadboards when they demo a circuit (such a useful thing) and they're so neat and tidy. I know they obviously spend extra time on that aspect as they know it's going on YT, but even so, I don't think there IS enough time for me to get a prototype circuit to look that smart.

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