Electronics > Projects, Designs, and Technical Stuff

Is wire wrapping still a thing?

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Lately I've been thinking about trying it for prototyping. Is it still a viable option? Are there any good resources that cover it in detail?

All of the tools, wires, sockets and pins are still available, at least for DIPs and simple components.  If you want to use modern parts you will be stuck with socket adapters which may or may not be available.

Issues to think about.  When wire wrapping was in its prime 10 MHz clocks were considered pretty high speed.  I don't know how well the technology will survive with modern switching speeds.  Wire wrapping was always a pain to debug and sometimes repair also.  Undoing three or more layers of wraps to get to the signal you want is not fun, and it often involves replacing all of those unwrapped wires.  Which have another end where the fun continues.

It is a fairly fast way to prototype smaller circuits, and the process meshes well with some folks mindset (the same kind who like to create circuits with conductive ink)

I can't recommend any learning sources, all of my contact was learned by osmosis, often from others who had learned the same way.  The professionals who did it at work often learned in proprietary company classes.  You might try searching through online versions of the old electronics magazines.  They periodically had articles on construction techniques, including wire wrap.

When a lot of breakout boards and functional blocks are available on small, cheap PCBs with square pin connectors, I find it a very convenient way to prototype. It's much more durable than berg/dupont connectors and produces a neater, more compact result than soldered wires.

I used to have a slit wrap gun that helped to speed up the build.   You could program the number of wraps and then daisy chain connections.  I've also using the manual hand tools.   I don't know why anyone would use this today.   The last time I used WW was when I designed the transient generator that I use to benchmark meters.  I used all DIP parts and a vintage micro, just to remind myself how bad things were in the 70's / 80's for hobbyist.  It was a fairly small board (5X6" or so) and not a lot going on.  4MHz clock.  Very labor intensive but the system has been used for several tests and the WW has not been a problem.   I had a friend who did some WWing for space flight, so it can be reliable.   The last actual board I designed and constructed using WW was this thing:


Unless you just want to try it for fun, PCBs are a lot cheaper today. 

I gave up on WW long ago, due to my poor workmanship.
Even with a good tool and proper materials, the probability of getting both ends of the wire to wrap properly was too low for practical use.
On the other hand, a skilled technician would achieve good results with good tools.


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