With RadioShack gone 😥 I have had to find a way to get the connectors I need to get the many builds properly assembled; enter Amazon. I am a prime member (I’m sure they hate me for it) so I get free, 2 day shipping on just about everything. This is key when you run across a need and your project is at a stopping point because of it.
Finding good connectors is a pain. Most are Chinese cheapo’s, but now-a-days; there isn’t much else. So you spend as much in trial and error on buying sight unseen connectors as you do installing them. Below are the ones I have found that have held up.
3 Different Types of Connections
Getting something easily in/out for transport, repairs or upgrades is key. Especially as your project grows you may need to reconfigure to get more features into your project. In my mind there are 3 different types of connections: Quick, semi-permanent and permanent
There are a few different quick connectors that I use that I have found work well. For most of what my box pulls, low amp, 12 volt wires and connections work fine. In fact, may be a must. (see later article on wire gauges) Sometimes you need to get creative when you have multiple related accessories that need to get plugged in. For those I am using a modified Ethernet cable and in the past I have used a old computer serial cable. I will get more info about those as we go. For batteries and other 2 wire connections like the smoke machines I use 18awg wire barrel quick connects.
If this retailer doesn’t have them, there are dozens on amazon and Ebay that do. These support 5amp current well and I have spiked to 10amp on the 2 main power supplies and I have seen them work just fine (although it exceeds the manufacturer speccs)
Semi Permanent Connectors
Semi-permanent connectors are those that need to be able to be removed, but not very often.
These Screw Terminal Strip Blocks not only allow for semi-permanent connections but help you keep things clean and organized inside your project.
Once you get everything mapped out and wired you can take a picture of it, put in in MS Powerpoint and add labels to remember what is what.
Additionally you can use blue painters tape to label the post important wires. The little red #6 fork is ideal for the small gauge wire you will use.
Permanent connectors are connections that need to be soldered in place or direct wired. I will admit I started off using permanent techniques and quickly switch over the frustration to quick and semi-permanent connections, but there are connections at certain points where this will be necessary. Components that have motorized parts and vibrate should be soldered. Close, closed or small areas that don’t have the room for connectors should be soldered.
Note: You should always use some form of connection. Just running a bare with through an eyelet connector is just an event of failure waiting to happen. I ONLY use electrical take as a temporary fix.
Soldering kits these days are pretty cheap. I use a large kit I purchased from Radioshack before they closed. Cheap however doesn’t mean good. For the soldering iron cheap ones only last for 30 hours or so of use. For a project guy that is about a year.
Here is a cheap starter kit.