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DIRTY CABLES: What’s in that sample pile?

Posted on Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 in cables, components, DirtyPCBs.com by DP

cable-pile

Massive sample piles advertise the custom cable manufacturers in Huaqiangbei market. A sketch and a few part numbers is enough to get a quote on the spot. These piles reveal which connectors are standard and readily available in the Chinese manufacturing ecosystem. To avoid sourcing problems and production delays its probably best to stick with one of these common connectors in your projects.

We grabbed a sample of every cable from the piles in the SEG and HQ Mart markets, then verified the actual model against datasheets. In this post we look at the common connector families available from multiple manufacturers. Sometimes market traders call the connectors by an unofficial part number, we’ve included these to help you communicate with Chinese vendors.

Continue below for an overview of the 17 most common cable and connector types from the Chinese market. Try out Dirty Cables to build your own custom cables, and grab the Dirty Cables Sample Kit to explore these connectors with your own hands.

Parts of a cable

Crimp housing

crimp-housing

A crimp housing holds the metal crimp contacts and cable wires, and mates with a PCB or cable mount connector. The most recognizable measurement of a crimp housing is pitch, the distance between pins. Common crimp housing pitch ranges from 1mm to 4.2mm.

Crimp contacts

crimps

Crimp contacts are the metal bits that mate cable wires to connectors. Crimp materials and coatings vary, which impact the maximum power rating of the cable. Nickel plated crimp contacts are by far the most common default option. A few connectors, mostly IDC, generally have gold plated contacts by default.

crim-machine

Reels of crimp contacts and wire load into a crimping machine. The machine strips the wire, attaches the crimp contact, and cuts the wire to length. Specific tooling is needed to attach and cut each type of crimp. Manufacturers can’t attach a crimp without the right tooling for their crimp machines.

Wire

wire-2

Cable wire is generally multiple strands of copper wire that have been tinned with solder and coated in insulation. Common colors are available: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, white, gray, and black. Wire size effects the maximum voltage and current a cable can carry, common cable wire sizes range from 32AWG to 16AWG (smaller AWG = bigger wire).

wire-ribbon-rainbow-gray-10

Some connectors use flat ribbon cables, generally with gray or rainbow colored insulation. Common sizes:1.27mm, 1mm, and 0.635mm.

PCB mount connectors

pcb-mount-connector

A connector mates a cable to a circuit board or another cable. Connectors may be polarized so the cable only fits one direction, or have locking features to keep the cable from coming loose. Cables may attach to the PCB from the top (top entry) or the side (side entry).

Cable to board connectors

cable2pcb

Most cables in the market connect to a circuit board (cable to board), some connect two cables (cable to cable). A few will do both. First let’s look at the common cable to board connectors.

CRHO

CRHO254-all

Let’s call this the simplest cable in the market. It mates directly with standard 2.54mm (0.1”) pitch pin header. It’s the only connector we found that isn’t polarized, it can attach in any direction.

Frequently called a DuPont connector, even in Chinese, but the current common version seems to be compatible with TC Connectivity’s AMPMODU IV series. We’re going to call it CRimp HOusing (CRHO) because it’s the most bog standard thing in the market. CRHO is borrowed from the amazing and unloved OOMP project.

Pin header PCB mount connectors are available in through hole (PTH) and surface mount (SMD), as well as various colors.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
CRHO 2.54mm 1-40 28-22AWG 250VDC 3A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Crimp Housing Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
CRHO-xx HDR-2.54-xxX1P HDR-2.54-xxX1P-RA HDR-2.54-xxX1P-SMD HDR-2.54-xxX1P-RA-SMD

KF2510

KF2510-all

KF2510 is basically a keyed CRHO style housing. It mates with 2.54mm (0.1”) pitch keyed board mount connectors. It also fits on 2.54mm (0.1”) pin header, but without the polarity protection of the keyed connector.

The crimp housing and board connectors come in beige and white, which may have different maximums and tolerances so be sure to consult the datasheet.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
KF2510 2.54mm 2-16 30-22AWG 250VDC 3A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Crimp Housing Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
KF2510-xxY KF2510-xxA KF2510-xxP

SH 1.0mm (JST compatible)

SH10-all

A 1.0mm pitch cable compatible with the JST SH series is the smallest we found in the market. At over 1 RMB per sample it was also among the most expensive cables.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
SH 1.0mm 2-20 32-28AWG 50VDC 1A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Crimp Housing Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
SHR-xxV-S-B BmxxB-SRSS-TB SmxxB-SRSS-TB

51021 1.25mm (Molex compatible)

51021-all

This one is hard to tie down, and it seems to be a widely confused part. Chinese market traders and most of Taobao call this “SH 1.25”, as in a 1.25mm version of the JST SH 1.0mm connector above. We’ve also seen it called A121-xxY/A1251-Hxx, which may be a duff manufacturer part number.

This is actually a Molex 1.25mm “PicoBlade” 51021 compatible part. It’s no wonder Molex parts get nick names. Molex has a knack for making really crappy part numbers, and has even “upgraded” to new numbers that are worse than the old numbers.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
51021 1.25mm 2-15 32-28AWG 125VDC 1A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Crimp Housing Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
51021-xx00 53047-xx10 53048-xx10 53398-xx71 53261-xx71

ZH 1.5mm (JST compatible)

ZH15-all

A 1.5mm pitch cable compatible with the JST ZH series. A vendor said this isn’t a commonly requested cable type, but there isn’t a shortage of suppliers in the market or online.

The through-hole mount connectors come in two versions for different PCB thickness. Use BxxB-ZR-3.4/SxxB-ZR-3.4 for standard 1.6mm thick PCBs, or BxxB-ZR/SxxB-ZR for thinner 0.6-1.2mm thick boards.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
ZH 1.5mm 2-13 32-26AWG 50VDC 1A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Crimp Housing Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
ZHR-xx BxxB-ZR(-3.4) SxxB-ZR(-3.4) BxxB-ZR-SM4-TF SxxB-ZR-SM4A-TF

PH 2.0mm (JST compatible)

PH20-all

2.0mm pitch cable compatible with JST PH series. 2.0mm saves a bit of space over standard 2.54mm pitch connectors, but is still easy for most people to hand solder.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
PH 2.0mm 2-16 32-24AWG 100VDC 2A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Crimp Housing Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
PHR-xx BxxB-PH-K-S SxxB-PH-K-S BxxB-PH-SM4-TB SxxB-PH-SM4-TB

XH 2.5mm (JST compatible)

XH250-all

A 2.50mm cable compatible with the JST XH series. 2.50mm != 2.54mm, pitch is actually 2.50mm. Many suppliers incorrectly list this as 2.54mm part. Despite the size difference, the connectors will generally still fit 2.54mm breadboards and pin headers.

An SMD top entry PCB mount connector is not an official part in the JST datasheet, but it’s widely available in the Chinese market. We named this connector BxB-XH-SM4-TB following the JST part numbering system, but note that it is not an official part number.

There are two oddities in this family. An XHP-20 crimp housing and connector exists with 20 pins in a 10x2P configuration. The through-hole side entry PCB mount connector also comes in a short shroud (7.2mm) version (SxB-XH-A-1). These specialty options don’t seem to be available in the Chinese markets.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
XH 2.50mm 1-16 30-22AWG 250VDC 3A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Crimp Housing Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
XHP-xx BxxB-XH-A SxxB-XH-A(-1) BxxB-XH-SM4-TB SxxB-XH-SM4-TB

CH 3.96mm

CH396-all

A 3.96mm pitch nylon connector that the market vendors call “CH”. Heavy duty crimps and heavy duty connectors make this a good choice for power connections. It has a retention “bump” that helps secure the connection. The retention bump also helps polarize the connection, but nylon is flexible and the connector could be installed backwards with enough force.

This part is not from JST, despite a similar part number. Some duff manufacturers list this as 2139-xxY, similar to a Molex part number, but that isn’t an exact match for the board mount connectors. We use the market vendor name “CH”, short for CHina connector.

There are two versions of the side entry connector. 2139-xAWG has a 4.3mm extended length pin. This version is listed at several Taobao shops, but it was always out of stock and all our orders were eventually canceled.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
CH 3.96mm 2-16 24-18AWG 250VDC 7A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Crimp Housing Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
2139-xxY 2139-xxA 2139-xxAW(G)

VH 3.96mm (JST compatible)

VH396-all

A 3.96mm pitch locking connector compatible with the JST VH series. This is another connector with heavy duty crimp contacts and connectors that is ideal for power supplies. Keyed to protect polarity, locking to secure in place.

The datasheet lists an -M version with a safety retainer. We could not locate this part in the market.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
VH 3.96mm 2-11 16-22AWG 250VDC 10A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Crimp Housing Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
VHR-xxN BxxP-VH(-FB-B) BxxPS-VH

Insulation Displacement Connectors

IDC

Insulation displacement connectors (IDCs) are a cable to board connection system that doesn’t use crimp contacts. Teeth in the connector cut through the insulation of a ribbon cable and make contact with the wires inside.

These connectors have been around forever, but there doesn’t seem to be a solid part numbering system. Generally the displacement connector part number is FC. The PCB mount connector is DC3 (DC2 and DC4 are variants with locks and wings and such). We created our own part numbering system based on this convention that takes into account newer, smaller 2.0mm and 1.27mm pitch IDC versions.

IDC 2.54mm

IDC254-all

Bog standard 2.54mm IDC and mating shrouded header. It has a polarizing key that only fits one way, but there’s no retention mechanism aside from the friction fit. Fits 1.27mm ribbon cable.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
IDC 2.54mm 6-64 1.27mm 100VDC 2A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
IDC connector Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
IDC-FC-2.54-xx IDC-DC3-2.54-xx-PTH IDC-DC3-2.54-xx-RA-PTH IDC-DC3-2.54-xx-SMD

IDC 2.0mm

IDC200-all

Smaller. An even metric measure. What’s not to love? 2.0mm IDCs save a bit of board space, but are still easy to hand solder for most people.

Slightly more expensive than common 2.54mm IDCs. Fits 1.0mm ribbon cable, rainbow color may not be available.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
IDC 2.0mm 10-50 1.0mm 50VDC 1.5A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
IDC connector Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
IDC-FC-2.0-xx IDC-DC3-2.0-xx-PTH IDC-DC3-2.0-xx-RA-PTH IDC-DC3-2.0-xx-SMD

IDC 1.27mm

IDC127-all

1.27mm pitch IDCs are the smallest available in the market. Fewer manufacturers and suppliers than 2.0mm and 2.54mm IDCs means they’re more expensive and harder to source. The right-angle through-hole connector was only available as a special order of MOQ (200 pieces).

Fits 0.635mm ribbon cable, rainbow color may not be available.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
IDC 1.27mm 8-80 0.635mm 50VDC 1A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
IDC connector Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
IDC-FC-1.27-xx IDC-DC3-1.27-xx-PTH IDC-DC3-1.27-xx-RA-PTH IDC-DC3-1.27-xx-SMD

Cable to cable connectors
cable2cable

Some cables connect to other cables. These are common in hobby R/C batteries and wiring harnesses for panel mount switches, lights, and connectors.

Receptacle housing

If the cable connects to another cable the common terms plug and receptacle seem to be used. Manufacturers use different criteria to distinguish a plug and receptacle. A JST receptacle holds male crimp pins, while the JST plug holds the female crimp sockets (see datasheet excerpt above). Molex, however, calls the male crimp housing (with female crimp sockets) a receptacle and the female crimp housing (with male crimp pins, same as PCB mountable connector) a plug.

RCY 2.5mm (JST compatible)

plug-receptacle

2.5mm (not 2.54mm) JST RCY series compatible connector. Commonly used as a battery connector and only available in a 2 pin version. Market vendors simply call this “JST 2P”.

Always red. A white version exists in the datasheet but has not been spotted in China.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
RCY 2.50mm 2 28-22AWG 250VDC 3A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Receptacle Plug Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
SYR-02T SYP-02T-1

SM 2.5mm (JST compatible)

SM250-all

2.5mm (not 2.54mm) JST SM series compatible connector. High pin count cable to cable connector with polarization key and retention lock.

An 18 pin version exists in a 9x2P configuration that is not available in the market.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
SM 2.50mm 2-12 28-22AWG 250VDC 3A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Receptacle Plug Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
SMR-xxV-B SMP-xxV-BC

Cable to cable & cable to board

Molex 5557 and 43025 series power connectors have mating cable mount plug connectors and PCB mount connectors.

5557 4.2mm (Molex compatible)

5557-all

Molex 5557 4.2mm “Mini-Fit” compatible connectors are familiar from ATX power supplies and computer motherboards. The crimp receptacle is 5557-xxR. It mates with cable to cable plug 5559-xxP, and through-hole PCB mount connectors 5566-xxA and 5569-xxA.

The datasheet lists black crimp housings (5557-xxR-BL,5559-xxP-400), but they’re not common in China.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
5557 4.2mm 2-24 16-28AWG 600VDC 9A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Receptacle Plug Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
5557-xxR 5559-xxP 5566-xxA 5569-xxA

43025 3.0mm (Molex compatible)

43025-all

3.0mm Molex “Micro-Fit” 43025 series compatible connector. This is a smaller 3mm version of the 5557 series above. In fact, Market and Taobao suppliers call this “5557 3.0”.

The crimp receptacle is 43025-xx00. It mates with cable to cable plug 43020-xx00, and through-hole PCB mount connectors 43045-xx12 and 43045-xx00. Through-hole PCB mount connectors are widely available in the Chinese market. Molex sells a surface mount version too, but we can’t find cheap domestic production so we’re not including it here.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
43025 3.0mm 2-24 20-30AWG 600VDC 5A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Receptacle Plug Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
43025-xx00 43020-xx00 43045-xx12 43045-xx00

Debug connectors

Temporary connectors like test probes, alligator clips, and pin header fall into this category.

CRHO-M 2.54mm

CRHO-M-all

A male pin crimp contact that fits into the standard CRHO housing, we’re calling it CRimp HOusing Male (CRHO-M) for short. Useful for breadboards and temporary connections to female headers.

In theory these could be made for any number of pins supported by the CRHO cable to board family, but in practice we only found single pins in the market.

Series Pitch Pins Wire Size Vmax Amax
CRHO-M 2.54mm 1 28-22AWG 250VDC 3A
Mating Connectors Through-hole Surface Mount
Crimp Housing Top Entry Side Entry Top Entry Side Entry
CRHO-M-xx FHDR-2.54-xxX1P

Note on cable maximum, tolerances

CH-example

Most of the connectors we found are compatible with popular designs from Molex and JST, but we assume they’re made by secondary manufacturers (duff manufacturers). In this post we list specs from the original manufacturer’s datasheet where available. Tolerances and rating may not be the same for the duff parts from the market. Be sure to leave wide safety margins for current and voltage when working with no-name Chinese cables, and inspect the final cable to ensure it’s properly suited for the intended load.

Dirty Cables: Get your own custom cables

DirtyPCBs

Get cheap custom cables for your project, direct from Huaqiangbei. Use the Dirty Cable creator to drag and drop wires and connectors into a cable and price custom cables from quantity 100. The example shown here is a 4 pin 1.0mm SH compatible connector broken out to 4 single pin 2.54mm CRHO-M connectors, only $0.23 each at quantity 100!

Touch it yourself: Dirty Cables Sample Pack v1.0

sample pack

Need to get up close and personal with all these cables and connectors yourself? The Dirty Cables Sample Pack has all of the cable types covered in this post, plus all mating cable and PCB mount connectors. Grab it in the store for $9.95.

Taking it further

In the coming weeks we’ll cover three more categories of less common cables and connectors: crimp terminals, coaxial power connectors, and LED strip sockets.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 at 1:00 pm and is filed under cables, components, DirtyPCBs.com. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

25 Responses to “DIRTY CABLES: What’s in that sample pile?”

  1. Philip M Freidin says:

    links at end to cable creator are misspeiled

  2. Drone says:

    We need RF/Coaxial cables with connectors. Pre-made custom RF cables/connectors are insanely high in price. We’ll pay more for an option to sweep them.

    • Ryan White says:

      Second that. I’d love the option to extend this already awesome tool to RF cables, hoping it’s already in the works because I know the markets can handle it!

      So good!!

  3. scatterbrained2 says:

    the link to the store is broken – it has ‘sotre’ instead of ‘store’

    Could there be an option for having one end of the wire stripped and tinned? how about partially stripped but with a piece of the insulation left on to protect the strands?

    A few other ideas for connectors: USB type A panel mount, 3.5mm stereo jack, 2.1mm and 2.5mm barrel jack

  4. Craig Hollabaugh says:

    Excellent post! Thanks

  5. Pete In PDX says:

    Great breakdown on Asian connectors and their names/types.

    Thanks

  6. Jeffrey Pace says:

    Can you include 9v connectors? How about toggle switches, such as spdt ?

  7. Jeffrey Pace says:

    Also how do we tell connector orientation? Which is pin 1?

    And the datasheet access page is forbidden

  8. Louis Beaudoin says:

    This is great work guys! Placing an order for a sample pack and hope to use the service to make a custom cable soon.

  9. Markus says:

    Can we also get DB9 and DB25?

  10. km4yri says:

    2.54mm dupont female / CRHO-F as an option, please. Even if just the 1-pin option (even better would be no housing at all). These are super-common in Shenzhen, and extremely common in projects of all sizes and complexities.

    Otherwise, this service is a dream come true.

  11. JonnyBoats says:

    Second Ryan’s call for RF cables! Also useful would be adapters such as SMA to BNC etc.

  12. Ivan Kožar says:

    This is awesome! Hope you add spade crimp terminal options soon! I know a lot of people (including me) need dirty spade connectors! Keep up the good work!
    Connectors in question: FASTON 110 series, 2.8mm 18-20AWG

  13. James Fowkes says:

    This is a brilliant service, I’m sure I’ll be using it a lot.

    An option for spade/FASTON connectors would be amazing!

  14. Jonathan Eisch says:

    This is great! Coax with RF and lemo-00 connectors would make a huge difference to physicists everywhere. SHV (high voltage) is probably too much to ask, but it’s so depressing to spend a big chunk of your budget on connectors.

  15. Andrzej says:

    Please also include option to add multiple wires to one connection of connector. Of course it should take on mind the wire size.

  16. Doub says:

    Just add sleeving and black variants of these 5557 and you’ll take the enthusiast/gamer PC market by storm.

  17. DrTune says:

    Wow that’s terrific; next time I need a bunch of cables made I know right where to come. Thanks very much indeed for setting this up and doing all the research/site coding/biz-stuff/etc. You rock

  18. OpenEVSE says:

    Great service. I have already ordered 4 cable assemblies.

    I will order many more…
    Wish list…
    105C wire AWM1015 18AWG Black and Red
    1/4″ QC connectors

  19. Jeffrey Pace says:

    Please please add 9v snap connectors

  20. Juha Kuusama says:

    Wish list:
    -shielded cables
    -availability of matching panel connectors
    -GX12 (or similar) connectors
    -ferrule terminations (for screw connectors)
    -spades

  21. Juha Kuusama says:

    Forgot to add: Great idea and really useful service!

  22. Arthur says:

    XLR connectors would be a really nice addition for me

  23. Olav Storstrøm says:

    Please add 9-pin D-sub RJ45 and RJ12 connectors! Thanks!

  24. Alan says:

    USB plugs, if possible, would be great

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