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Affordable crimp tools for small connectors (Dupont, etc.)

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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:

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:

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.

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.

PA-09 being sticky is pretty normal. A drop of oil helps.

Neomys Sapiens:
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.


--- Quote from: knotlogic 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?
--- End quote ---
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.)


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