Pseudonymous maker Lucky Resistor has published a guide to creating a robust, customized wiring loom connector using a 3D printer and a pin header — offering something a little more manageable than a bundle of loose wires.
"In order to test the input panel, I had to connect the 14 lines to the test setup on a breadboard," Lucky Resistor explains of the project's origins. "Just using a pin header was too flimsy for me, because I often reuse these test connectors on different breadboards."
The solution: A custom prototype connector, which combines a 14-pin header — though the size of the header can be customised to the size of the wiring loom required, naturally — with a ribbon cable and two small 3D-printed enclosures.
The build is simple: Solder the wires from the ribbon cable onto the pin header, then insert it into one half of the enclosure you printed earlier. Holes in the base of the enclosure allow the pins to protrude from the bottom, while the hollow internals provide a reservoir for a five-minute epoxy — designed to strengthen the connector and prevent the pins from working loose during repeated connection and disconnection.
Finally, the second half of the 3D-printed enclosure is attached with more epoxy. "It’s a solid connector now, which can easily be inserted and removed from the breadboard," Lucky Resistor adds. "Also, you can glue a label on top of the connector as a quick reference to the different lines."
The full guide is available on the Lucky Resistor website, along with the Fusion360 files for the enclosure. "It is a parametric design," Lucky Resistor notes, which means it's possible to change the number of pins in the connector, "but sadly Fusion360 fails to update a sketch if you change the pin count. So if you require a different pin count, you need to recreate the second part after changing the parameter."