Author Topic: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)  (Read 11579 times)

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Online tooki

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So, as we know, the world of crimping (especially with small connectors) is fraught with "gotchas" and half-truths, as well as inherent complexity.

In an ideal world where each of us had literally unlimited funds (and unlimited workshop space), we'd just exclusively buy first-party terminals and the official tooling for each type. But here in the real world, at least for hobbyists, spending $300-1000 per tool is just not realistic. So I've spent a lot of time over the past few years trying to understand the world of cheap crimping tools, and it's daunting to say the least.

The vast majority of us hobbyists seem to end up with one of a few different tools for "Dupont" pins and other small connectors:
- SN-28B, -BM
- SN-48B, -BM
- SN-01BM, -02-BM, -03BM
- Engineer PA-09

Let's review these all first.

All of these get sold online as being suitable for Dupont, yet in fact none of them truly are. Dupont contacts have the two diagonally meshing insulation crimps which are intended for a circular crimp which does not penetrate the insulation. All of those crimpers, on the other hand, are designed for the "F" type crimp (which resembles an "m") on both the wire crimp and the insulation crimp.

I finally figured out where the SN-28B and SN-48B got their model numbers: they're designed for 2.8mm and 4.8mm wide spade terminals, respectively. (I found this in a big-name toolmaker's catalog, I just forget whose!) The SN-48B is categorically too big for Dupont, etc. The SN-28B's smallest die does work for Dupont, sorta. It always mangles the insulation crimp, making it too wide to insert into the housings without extra work. (Slightly re-crimping the insulation crimp in the wire half of the die will make it work.) But the dies are actually too thick (7mm), so with many Dupont contacts, it's extremely hard to get a proper crimp without mangling some part of the contact.

For Molex KK (and their Chinese clones, the KF2510), the 28B actually isn't tooo bad, since they're designed for F-type insulation crimps. But the dies are still too thick. (For what it's worth, the SN-28B is great for 2.8/4.8/6.3mm spade connectors onto thinner wires, like 24-16AWG (0.22-1.5mm².)

SN-01/2/3BM (and a few others) are sold as D-sub crimpers for various wire gauges. I don't have one of these, but they look like they'd do a better job, having the thinner jaws.

There's also an SN-2549B that's basically an SN-28B with a bit of an SN-01BM grafted on.

The PA-09 is often recommended on here as actually having good dies, but it's non-ratcheting, requires two squeezes (one for wire, one for insulation) and also lacks the round insulation crimp.


For smaller connectors like JST, IWISS (a Chinese crimper brand that is of slightly-better-than-junk quality) released one not too long ago that looks promising, the IWS-3220m.

So what's been lacking for the longest time is a cheap third-party ratcheting crimping tool that actually performs the round insulation crimp for Dupont, and has the correct die thickness for Dupont and these smaller contacts. For years, I and others have searched without luck.

Until about 2 weeks ago.

While prowling around AliExpress, I came across a vendor selling a model number I hadn't run into before, the SN-4228B (TZ-4228B in the picture). And lo and behold, it has a round insulation crimping die for Dupont, and several other openings specifically for smaller connectors:
[attach=2]


Unlike the SN-28B, which there are literally hundreds of vendors selling, there's just one selling the SN-4228B at the moment. I've ordered one, so eventually we shall see if it's any good. Coronavirus has made the slow Chinese shipping even slower. I also got little assortment boxes of KF2510, JST XH2.5, and JST SM, as I want to move away from Dupont (except for breadboarding) to something polarized.


And then shortly thereafter, I came across a vendor selling a model they're calling both "SN-ECUBM" and "SN-28BM ECU", and it does indeed look like an SN-28B, but with circular insulation crimps:
[attach=1]
[attach=3]

I'm debating picking up one of these, too, just for shits and giggles.


Additionally, a seller on the local auction site just had a few new-in-box TE Connectivity (AMP) 169481-1 crimpers for AMPMODU MOD IV contacts at less than 1/6 the retail price. (Albeit without the positioner. It's totally unclear about whether it is supposed to be included or must be purchased separately. Looking at units for sale, with the same part number, some have it, some don't…) Anyway, with AMPMODU MOD IV being yet another of the 0.1" header connectors, I decided to pick it up. What's very odd is that the cross-reference for tool-to-contact compatibility has totally different contact part numbers for this crimper compared to the one they recommend these days. (All in all, TE sells probably somewhere between 5-10 different crimpers for the series.) But since they fit into the same connector housings, I figure they can't be that different. Either way, I'll give it a shot. If it proves to be useless, I can probably sell the crimper for more than I paid for it.

(By the way, if anyone wants one, at the end of the listing, he had another 5 pieces available. Let me know and I can inquire whether they're still available now. They were selling for CHF50 plus shipping.)



Also, here's an overview of existing threads and resources on the topic of such connectors and tools:
Matt's Tech Pages: Common Wire-To-Board, Wire-To-Wire Connectors, and Crimp Tools
Topic: Affordable crimp tools?
Topic: Dupont crimp tools that don't suck?
Topic: Crimping Dupont, VH, XH, PH and KF2510
Topic: reasonable priced , real, crimping tools for molex / JST / Dupont ?
Topic: Crimping tool for PH 2.0mm connector
Topic: Connectors and crimping tools. I just want to be "more standard"
Topic: Which crimp pins for standard .1" "Dupont" headers?
Topic: Dupont crimp tool, high-quality multi-strand and stiff single-strand wire?
Topic: Pin Connectors, Crimpers, decent connections, and the futility of it all...

Edit 2020-05-22: fixed typo, added one more forum topic link.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 10:49:23 am by tooki »
 

Offline knotlogic

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2020, 11:19:48 am »
Nice find on the IWS-3220m, SN-4228B, and SN-28BM!  I've been looking at picking up Dupont connectors for breadboards recently but have been stuck on how to crimp the insulation portion properly.  Let us know how the SN-4228B works out?

I was just reading through the first article you linked to (Matt's Tech Pages) a week or so ago.  He mentions a YTH-202B which also has a circular crimp spot.  It's not ratcheting though, and the quality of the jaws in all the pictures I've seen doesn't look great.

And a note on the Engineer PA-09 and the PAD-11/12/13.  The latter is a single frame with a choice of 3 crimp dies.  I have a PA-09 and a PAD-12, and I find after crimping the terminal can be slightly stuck in the PA-09, but so far never in the PAD-12.  I don't know if it's a case of surface finish, or just my particular PA-09.  The PAD-12 is bigger and slightly more unwieldy though, and it doesn't have a flat area at the mouth of the jaws which comes in useful to square up the wings on some terminals before crimping.
 

Online Monkeh

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2020, 08:50:47 pm »
PA-09 being sticky is pretty normal. A drop of oil helps.
 

Offline Neomys Sapiens

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2020, 05:21:00 pm »
Another non-ratcheting crimp tool which includes a B-crimp is the AMP Super Champ FT (but not the Super Champ 2), and there is a older version of the SUPER CHAMP that has three B-type cavities. The latter one is in my toolkit, as I could not fit a ratcheting crimper in there. I have used them when nothing else was around, for example on TAE plug crimp contacts, which are of comparable size. You have to work very precisely, as there is no enforced closure and no longitudinal guide to the contact, but one can fit them in a rather full toolcase and have a crimper for insulated terminals and a spare wire stripper as well. If I know that I have to crimp, I would rather carry a better crimper.

As previously stated, the Daniels GMT225 is my favourite for this type of contacts. AMP 169347-1 is also nice.

 

Online tooki

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2020, 10:53:28 am »
Nice find on the IWS-3220m, SN-4228B, and SN-28BM!  I've been looking at picking up Dupont connectors for breadboards recently but have been stuck on how to crimp the insulation portion properly.  Let us know how the SN-4228B works out?
I certainly will!!

Just to be clear, it’s the “SN-28BM ECU” that’s a new find. A regular SN-28BM will have the regular F-type insulation crimp. (I can’t tell what the difference is between an SN-28B and SN-28BM. In some crimper  numbers, like -03, B and BM are completely different tools. But with the 28 I haven’t seen any difference.)
 

Offline ebclr

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2020, 11:27:07 am »
The 2 steps models like PA9 ( japan) or IWiSS IWS-2820 ( China ) , are much easier to use than the one-step ones . Especially in very small connectors Like Ph2.

I bought first the one-step model, but after losing a lot of terminals, I bought then the 2 Step ones ( IWS-2820) and I can assure you the 2 steps are much better, you have more controls on the process. On the one step, one little misalignment and you lost a terminal.

On bigger terminal like Dupont, they are similar, But on the small ones the 2 step is a sure way to go






One step model

https://pt.aliexpress.com/item/4000246209070.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.5ad45b0c2fxH6F&s=p&ad_pvid=202005220421352525299361195240011377878_3&algo_pvid=e75980bc-1ecd-42dc-a981-57d89d72a8e1&algo_expid=e75980bc-1ecd-42dc-a981-57d89d72a8e1-2&btsid=0ab6f82215901464951786505e528c&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_,searchweb201603_

 

Online thm_w

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2020, 09:28:59 pm »
I disagree. PA09 are recommended far to often for what they are. If PA09 were $10 and a decent ratcheting pair were $50, I'd see the point of them existing. But its the opposite.



 
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Online Monkeh

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2020, 10:07:24 pm »
The problem with "a decent ratcheting pair" is it might work for one or two crimps with varying results. The PA-09s, and other similar (and cheaper!) tools are much more versatile. With these and some larger Iwiss ones I have, I can crimp everything Big Clive can with that whole array of bits, and dozens more.
 

Online thm_w

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2020, 10:30:49 pm »
The problem with "a decent ratcheting pair" is it might work for one or two crimps with varying results. The PA-09s, and other similar (and cheaper!) tools are much more versatile. With these and some larger Iwiss ones I have, I can crimp everything Big Clive can with that whole array of bits, and dozens more.

I'm not sure why you'd see varying results. The idea of ratcheting is you get the same crimp result each time. Without it, you have to rely on consistency of grip force.

I do completely see your point of versatility, most people don't want a shelf full of crimpers. But I'd at least want to have a ratcheting pair for my most commonly used connector (JST PH) as that produces the fastest and most consistent crimp, at least for me.

One thing that would vastly improve these cheap crimpers is a spring loaded holder. But you'll only see that on the $500+ units AFAIK.
 
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Online Monkeh

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2020, 10:33:08 pm »
The problem with "a decent ratcheting pair" is it might work for one or two crimps with varying results. The PA-09s, and other similar (and cheaper!) tools are much more versatile. With these and some larger Iwiss ones I have, I can crimp everything Big Clive can with that whole array of bits, and dozens more.

I'm not sure why you'd see varying results. The idea of ratcheting is you get the same crimp result each time. Without it, you have to rely on consistency of grip force.

Varying results between connector families is what I meant. You might have one which works perfectly for XH and KK396, but useless for a KK254 or a VH.. (these being two connectors in each pitch fulfilling essentially the same role)

Quote
I do completely see your point of versatility, most people don't want a shelf full of crimpers. But I'd at least want to have a ratcheting pair for my most commonly used connector (JST PH) as that produces the fastest and most consistent crimp, at least for me.

Fair. I use a wide mix, so unless I want more crimpers than screwdrivers..
 
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Offline SparkyFX

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2020, 12:21:50 am »
Unlike the SN-28B, which there are literally hundreds of vendors selling, there's just one selling the SN-4228B at the moment. I've ordered one, so eventually we shall see if it's any good.
My results improved a lot by lowering the tension by one notch for Dupont contacts on AWG 22 and by dropping the pin into a half closed cavity, then the wire.
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Online tooki

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2020, 11:17:55 am »
Unlike the SN-28B, which there are literally hundreds of vendors selling, there's just one selling the SN-4228B at the moment. I've ordered one, so eventually we shall see if it's any good.
My results improved a lot by lowering the tension by one notch for Dupont contacts on AWG 22 and by dropping the pin into a half closed cavity, then the wire.
The point of this thread is trying to get a tool that is designed to correctly crimp the terminals in question, as opposed to how to convince the wrong tool to perform less-poorly.
 

Online tooki

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2020, 11:24:42 am »
The 2 steps models like PA9 ( japan) or IWiSS IWS-2820 ( China ) , are much easier to use than the one-step ones . Especially in very small connectors Like Ph2.

I bought first the one-step model, but after losing a lot of terminals, I bought then the 2 Step ones ( IWS-2820) and I can assure you the 2 steps are much better, you have more controls on the process. On the one step, one little misalignment and you lost a terminal.

On bigger terminal like Dupont, they are similar, But on the small ones the 2 step is a sure way to go
That doesn't really make sense. The whole point of the ratcheting crimpers is to reduce variability in the process.

The problem with "a decent ratcheting pair" is it might work for one or two crimps with varying results. The PA-09s, and other similar (and cheaper!) tools are much more versatile. With these and some larger Iwiss ones I have, I can crimp everything Big Clive can with that whole array of bits, and dozens more.
I think it's unrealistic to expect any tool to be ideal for all connector types. At the same time, I also think it's ridiculous how the connector companies make microscopic changes to a terminal type and then require a totally new $500-1000 tool for it. (For the AMPMODU MOD IV/V series, for example, TE sells something like 10 different crimp tools. No one terminal version works in all the tools, and no tool works with all the terminal versions.  |O )

Anyway, sure, with a non-ratcheting tool, you can probably work with a larger array of terminals, but the results with a given connector type will be less repeatable. (There's a reason aerospace, for example, only allows crimp tools that are calibrated to ensure only precisely the correct force is applied.)

And again, neither of the tools you mentioned performs the circular insulation crimp on Dupont terminals.
 

Online tooki

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2020, 11:37:27 am »
One thing that would vastly improve these cheap crimpers is a spring loaded holder. But you'll only see that on the $500+ units AFAIK.
Seriously!!! If someone could make some inexpensive locators to attach to these various cheap crimpers, I'm sure the results could be improved dramatically. It's kinda puzzling that none of the manufacturers has thought to do this as a USP...
 
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Online tooki

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2020, 11:50:49 am »
By the way, since I suspect a lot of folks don't understand what I'm talking about regarding the circular vs. F-type (m-shaped) insulation crimp, here's a great image of it stolen copied borrowed from Matt's Tech Pages: Common Wire-To-Board, Wire-To-Wire Connectors, and Crimp Tools:

[attach=1]

The right terminal is a genuine Mini-PV (the real "DuPont" connector) crimped with the correct tool, the middle is a generic terminal crimped with the genuine tool, and the left is a generic terminal crimped with the PA-09. See how on the right two, the insulation crimp forms a tube around the insulation, hugging it without piercing it? That's what we want (for this terminal type). A tool with the F-type (m-shape) insulation crimp jaw forms the mess on the left: the tips of the insulation crimp wings have been pushed up and down, and then pierced into the insulation.

Here's what those terminals look like uncrimped (again, borrowed from the same page):

[attach=2]

See how the insulation crimps are not symmetrical? They need the circular insulation jaw.

So what does the terminal with an F-type insulation crimp look like? Here's an AMPMODU MOD IV:
[attach=3]

See how the insulation wings are flat and symmetrical? They're intended to be folded into the insulation, not around it.

 
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Online Monkeh

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2020, 04:21:34 pm »
Anyway, sure, with a non-ratcheting tool, you can probably work with a larger array of terminals, but the results with a given connector type will be less repeatable. (There's a reason aerospace, for example, only allows crimp tools that are calibrated to ensure only precisely the correct force is applied.)

And again, neither of the tools you mentioned performs the circular insulation crimp on Dupont terminals.

Sure, I don't disagree. I've chosen low-cost versatility (okay, the PA-09 isn't cheap but again, Iwiss make a nice enough set which is under half the price) over repeatability. Fair trade-off when time and crimps are not in short supply.

And indeed, I have no tools which can deal with the 'dupont'/Mini-PV style correctly. I try not to use them anyway. One of these days I'll just stock up on some JST RF crimps.
 

Offline Neomys Sapiens

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2020, 04:49:21 pm »
Well, at least the GMT-225 does it right - applying the m-shape crimp to the conductor section and a round crimp to the insulation.

That said, most around here are maybe not so discerning. Substituting 'Dupont' with 'anything that fits on a 0.64'' square post (Pfostenleiste) and has a tab on the closed side, it might have happened even to me. A quick look into a box of such contacts kept ready found both types.
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2020, 05:25:03 pm »
For the Molex KK254 I ended up buying the official 'service' crimper from Molex (part number 0640160201) which can crimp a whole bunch of other Molex contacts as well. The price is around $125 which isn't insane. I have not managed to find a cheap ratchet crimper which can achieve the same crimp quality and ease of use for Molex KK254.

Also for very small contacts the official tool will be better. I have an IWISS IWS-3220m as well but it just isn't good enough for JST SHD (1mm pitch connector) even though it is advertised for this contact (*). IOW: better use big crimp contacts if you don't have the official tools  because the smaller the contact the more tolerances start to matter.

* Fortunately I managed to find the official tool on Ebay.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 05:36:11 pm by nctnico »
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Offline edavid

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2020, 07:30:56 pm »
Unlike the SN-28B, which there are literally hundreds of vendors selling, there's just one selling the SN-4228B at the moment.
There is now another vendor who has the SN-4228B with free shipping:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000824353015.html

And also one who has the TZ-4228B:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4001044611583.html

Quote
And then shortly thereafter, I came across a vendor selling a model they're calling both "SN-ECUBM" and "SN-28BM ECU", and it does indeed look like an SN-28B, but with circular insulation crimps:
Do you have the link for that one?
 

Offline SparkyFX

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2020, 10:08:07 pm »
The point of this thread is trying to get a tool that is designed to correctly crimp the terminals in question, as opposed to how to convince the wrong tool to perform less-poorly.
Wouldn't that mean to abolish practically all tools with multiple wire sizes (for one chamber), but a ratchet-release based on distance? Of course there are tolerances to everything and maybe excess is pushed out left and right to accomodate the additional volume, but it would require one tool per wire size and contact type to achieve a perfect result.

What i want to point out is that some of these are actually adjustable, therefore this should be taken into consideration when evaluating them. Imho for mains voltage and high current connections an adjustable crimp tool might impose a safety risk, but for low power signal applications: why not.
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Offline eliocor

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2020, 10:29:40 pm »
Quote
Wouldn't that mean to abolish practically all tools with multiple wire sizes (for one chamber), but a ratchet-release based on distance? Of course there are tolerances to everything and maybe excess is pushed out left and right to accomodate the additional volume, but it would require one tool per wire size and contact type to achieve a perfect result.
You are right: take as an example the nearby to me Molex 63828-2000 : https://www.molex.com/pdm_docs/ats/ATS-638282000.pdf .....
Price? more or less 1000 USD: a different league!
 

Online tooki

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2020, 11:13:37 pm »
Unlike the SN-28B, which there are literally hundreds of vendors selling, there's just one selling the SN-4228B at the moment.
There is now another vendor who has the SN-4228B with free shipping:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000824353015.html

And also one who has the TZ-4228B:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4001044611583.html

Quote
And then shortly thereafter, I came across a vendor selling a model they're calling both "SN-ECUBM" and "SN-28BM ECU", and it does indeed look like an SN-28B, but with circular insulation crimps:
Do you have the link for that one?
Oops, I meant to link it in the original post and I guess I forgot! Here you go: https://m.aliexpress.com/item/32775519832.html
It’s one of the “colors”, the other being a bog-standard -48B.
 

Online tooki

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2020, 11:15:53 pm »
The point of this thread is trying to get a tool that is designed to correctly crimp the terminals in question, as opposed to how to convince the wrong tool to perform less-poorly.
Wouldn't that mean to abolish practically all tools with multiple wire sizes (for one chamber), but a ratchet-release based on distance? Of course there are tolerances to everything and maybe excess is pushed out left and right to accomodate the additional volume, but it would require one tool per wire size and contact type to achieve a perfect result.

What i want to point out is that some of these are actually adjustable, therefore this should be taken into consideration when evaluating them. Imho for mains voltage and high current connections an adjustable crimp tool might impose a safety risk, but for low power signal applications: why not.
Please. Take a look at the pictures I posted to explain the point here. It’s not even about tolerances (though those are also an issue), but that the tools being sold for the purpose literally do not even have the correct SHAPE die. Tolerances are practically irrelevant when the shape and size of the dies are totally wrong.
 

Offline SparkyFX

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2020, 11:31:17 pm »
Quote
Wouldn't that mean to abolish practically all tools with multiple wire sizes (for one chamber), but a ratchet-release based on distance? Of course there are tolerances to everything and maybe excess is pushed out left and right to accomodate the additional volume, but it would require one tool per wire size and contact type to achieve a perfect result.
You are right: take as an example the nearby to me Molex 63828-2000 : https://www.molex.com/pdm_docs/ats/ATS-638282000.pdf .....
Price? more or less 1000 USD: a different league!

Don't get me wrong, if there are specifications to meet there is no way around using the crimping tool specified by the contact manufacturer. At work (automotive, apart from prefabbed crimps), there are considerations of durablity, vibration and avoiding water ingress, i wouldn't bother with anything from ebay/ali.

PCB to PCB connections are usually not that high spec'd, what imho matters is doing as many with as low effort as possible.

but that the tools being sold for the purpose literally do not even have the correct SHAPE die. Tolerances are practically irrelevant when the shape and size of the dies are totally wrong.
The ambiguous pictures in those item listings don't help much with the decision if it is the right tool for the job. So yes, thanks for pointing it out. The insulation crimps are simply unfit with the wrong shape crimp tool, take some bodging to get them into a cavity and such. No fun to do hundreds of those.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 11:44:15 pm by SparkyFX »
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Offline daveismissing

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Re: Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2020, 01:01:34 am »
Good thread. Molex (factory)  had some older stype crimp tools where a metal bar dropped across the contact and another where a positioning block swung on a pin. These tools work well, but the newer replacements  with the plastic "table" for alignment-I have not seen anyone figure out yet.
Unfortunately this seems to be the adopted style for all of their hand crip tools.
 
 
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