- Original / Generic tool comparison
- Why to not solder contacts
- FCI/Berg/DuPont Mini-PV
- M20 – “DuPont” clone (Harwin, and many others)
- JST PH
- JST XH
- Molex Picoblade
- Molex KK 254 / KK .100
- AMPMODU MTE (TE Connectivity), SL (Molex)
- CGrid III (Molex)
- AMPMODU MOD IV (TE Connectivity)
- Molex KK 396 / KK .156
- Molex Mini-Fit Sr
- Molex Mini-Fit Jr
- Mate-n-Lok (6.35mm pitch) – TE Connectivity
- Mate-n-Lok (5.08mm pitch) – TE, Formerly Tyco, Formerly AMP
- Molex Micro-Fit
- Molex Milligrid
- .250 FASTON, .187 FASTON – TE Connectivity
- AMP E.I.
- Molex 90331/8619 series
- AMPLIMITE (TE Connectivity)
- The only budget tools I use
- Other types
As someone who builds a lot of electrical things, one of the perhaps most unexciting yet fundamental subject areas is connectors. The range of connectors available and in-use today is trully astonishing. Big sellers like Digi-key/Farnell/Mouser literally have tens of thousands of product lines in their connectors category!
With so many different types of connectors available, it’s often difficult to know what to buy, especially when you’re buying for general use or “personal stock”. On this page I’ll cover some of the most common connectors in use today, and detail crimping/tooling considerations.
Every connector system ever conceived has its own official crimp tool, in most cases the cost of these is over and above what any hobbyist could and would want to pay for a crimp tool.
I personally own many of the official tools but for cost reasons don’t necessarily recommend them.
For the past 5 years this page has been focused on comparisons with the above tools. Note that I do not recommend buying these. They are expensive, poorly finished, causing contacts to stick in the jaw, and the scissor type action makes it difficult to get sufficient force on the wire part.
My recommended budget tools
- IWISS SN-2549. It’s good for most medium sized power connector families on this page i.e. Microfit, Mini-Fit Jr, E.I., KK .156, Mate-n-Lok, .187 FASTON. It has a cleanly machined jaw, so contacts won’t get stuck in it. It crimps the wire and insulation in a single action, with the ratchet double hinge mechanism providing good force on the wire part. It tends to apply too much force to the insulation part, but one cannot have it all on a budget.
- Engineer PAD-11. Unlike the PA-09/21 its jaw is cleanly machined, allowing easy removal of contacts after crimping. It is a little pricey but definitely wins for crimping smaller contacts i.e. PH, XH, Picoblade, SL, KK 100 etc.
- IWISS IWS-2820M. A copy of the Engineer PAD-11. Not as well made but for the significantly lower price, it could be forgiven.
But of course the connector family you were most interested in is Mini-PV (a.k.a) DuPont. I have detailed a few tools to consider for these below.
What differences can I expect using original tools versus generic tools?
These are four main differences:
- Single action: All original tools allow insertion of the contact and crimping in one go. Generic tools will often require the insulation and wire crimp to be performed as separate actions
- Correct crimping force: When using generic tools, it can often be difficult to get sufficient crimping force, especially when crimping thin / small gauge wire into contacts . It is also equally easy to over crimp contacts, damaging the wire in the process.
- Locator: All original tools have a ‘locator’ which holds the contacts in place during crimping, this means that your crimps are perfect every time. Using generic tools, it can be frustrating trying to line the contacts up correctly.
- Insulation crimp accuracy: Original tools are designed to not piece the insulation, whereas generic tools do most of the time. This means that terminations subject to continual mechanical stress are going to last a lot longer.
- Cost: Original tools are all extremely expensive. Unless like me you’re happy to prowl eBay looking for deals on second hand original tools, expect to be paying hundreds to over a thousand dollars (USD) / £ (GBP) for an original tool, only to have it work on a single connector family! To rub additional salt into your wounded wallet, it’s not uncommon to find that the connector manufacturer has a different tool for every single wire size, each costing $500+
What’s wrong with just soldering contacts?
Before I get started, let’s cover this one briefly with a simple diagram:
When crimped properly, the strands remain individual even upon entering the insulation crimp, making the chances of strands breaking low.
When soldering, there is a very high chance that the solder will wick up the wire, beyond the insulation crimp, making it very vulnerable to mechanical damage. In this situation, it only takes a small amount of movement to start snapping the strands at the invisible weak point.
Soldering doesn’t have any disadvantage in electrical terms, only mechanical. That make this method non-viable for production use; except under very controlled conditions with connectors that are designed for soldering. This having been said, I would recommend soldering in scenarios where connectors are carrying significant current, and the manufacturer tool is unavailable (see below).
Load testing contacts crimped with off-brand tools
If you aren’t using manufacturer original tools, but your connectors are carrying significant current: Load test them before you leave them in-situ. If you think it’s going to carry 10 amps continuously, then test it as such. Manufacturer current ratings cannot be guaranteed if you haven’t crimped them with their tools. While many cheap tools may make nice looking crimps, correct force on the wire part is not a given.
Even if it tests good, you may still have future problems because moisture can leak in over time, reacting with the different metals in use, resulting in a meltdown. To avoid this, contacts can be soldered, with the caveat of less mechanical durability mentioned previously.
Below is an interesting graphic from TE, from this video. On the left a cross section of a “gas tight” crimp, typical from a manufacturer original tool. The graphic on the right is the typical result of an off-brand tool. It’s important to put this into context however – gas tight crimps are only needed where contacts are used near their current rating, are expected to last a very long time, and/or the consequences of failure are serious.
Branded vs no-brand contacts
Back when I first started using crimp connectors, almost everything I built made use of cheap no-brand contacts with no particular care as to what they were plated with (not that it was ever specified anyway). Why waste money on name brand contacts when no-brand contacts work just fine?
Fast forward a few years, and I find that some of that equipment I built 3-5 years ago begins to malfunction. The problem was that I had mated contacts from two different eBay sellers with differing plating. The dissimilar metals in use corroded over the years ending in failure.
Attempts to save a few quid back then have now resulted in hours of profanities as all of those connectors have had to be re-crimped with name brand gold contacts.
If you are not on a tight budget, and building something that has to be reliable, and last – go straight for manufacturer original gold plated contacts . If buying Molex: 0.38µm “Selective” plated contacts are good enough (unless your creation is a life support system, or going to the moon).
Alternatively, if you don’t want to stump up for gold plated contacts – Tin plated contacts from known brands i.e. Molex / TE/ Amphenol / JST will last a lot longer than no-brand contacts.
Brass vs Phosphor bronze contacts
Phosphor bronze and brass are both alloys of copper, however with different ingredients. Phosphor bronze contacts are generally regarded as superior as they are harder and retain their tension for significantly longer. Smaller brass contacts may need to be re-tensioned after 5-10 mating cycles. If a contacts material is not specified (i.e. it’s a cheap no-brand type) assume it’s brass.
There are other exotic materials used in contacts i.e. beryllium alloy however these tend to only be found in very expensive contacts (for example genuine Mini-PV).
Mini-PV – (Amphenol – formerly FCI, formerly Berg, formerly DuPont Connector Systems)
Mini-PV is a 0.1″ (2.54mm pitch) connector first introduced in the 1970s by DuPont Connector Systems. Its contact measures 1.25mm square and features an elaborate bi-metallic design with a brass contact body and a beryllium alloy spring. As the heading suggests it has changed hands a few times since then.
In subsequent decades its design as been copied and altered by other parties. The original Mini-PV family is still manufactured today by Amphenol in the USA, but is generally too expensive for hobbyist use.
The most interesting feature is variable spring tension. I use “Ultra-high” types (48248-000LF) as it is rare that I build anything requiring more than 20 contacts. Spring tension is rated for 1000 mating cycles.
If you can afford to use these connectors, you’ll also be able to afford to buy the appropriate tools to crimp them, even if only second hand. As such there won’t be any need to do comparisons with budget tools. I’m aware of four official parts:
- HT-95 (AWG 22-32): The current and most commonly used Mini-PV tool. A large, expensive, clumsy tool, which despite being heavy and not particularly easy to use, crimps these contacts to perfection.
- HT-102 (AWG 22-32): Same as the HT-95 but has a modified locator for male contacts.
- HT-73 (AWG 18-20): For ridiculously large wire sizes, which from my testing, don’t fit into housings without a fight.
- HT-112 (AWG 34-26): For tiny wire sizes. Tool and contacts are special order only.
The price of the most commonly used HT-95 tool brand new seems to fluctuate between high and extremely high. I have seen it sold for as little as $800, as high as $1600.
My one is an old DuPont branded tool, identical to the current one, which I paid a fraction of the price for second hand.
I disabled the ratchet mechanism (and added a piece of string to hold it shut) as it has no manual release, meaning if you get a contact stuck in the wrong way during crimping, the inevitable result is a snapped anvil, which happened to me, and cost me nearly as much as I paid for the tool to fix.
There are two other tools for this series:
- HT-208A: AWG 22-26 wire
- HT-213A: AWG 28-32 wire
I am uncertain as to why DuPont manufactured two different series of tools for one connector family. The ergonomics of these tools is vastly superior to HT-95/102, but results are tiny bit rougher. They were discontinued decades ago, and may have been offered as a more affordable alternative the tools I mentioned earlier, however I cannot confirm this.
If you do buy one, expect to have to do some repair work on it. I had to re-mount the spring and replace the original locator with a 1×1 housing on both of mine.
M20 – “DuPont” clone (Harwin, and many others)
Not to be confused with the Mini-PV family I’ve just covered. “DuPont connector” is a vernacular term for a type of low cost, low quality type of connector which resembles the original DuPont Mini-PV design, but is not manufactured or designed by DuPont or any of the subsequent acquiring companies.
Its contacts are typically bent from a single piece of stamped brass into a box shape around 1.6mm square. Unlike Mini-PV which has many different contact options, this type has just one single option – covering AWG 22-32 wire sizes, and is available in either tin or “gold flash” plating (a few atoms thick).
I first saw these copycat connectors in the late 1990s. I’ve not yet seen any equipment from prior years containing them.
Harwin are the only well known connector manufacturer producing this type I’ve ever been able to identify. Could they be the creator of the first “DuPont” clones? Today these connectors are made in countless factories in mainland China, comprising the bulk of what is for sale online, many of which are particularly poor quality.
I used these a lot a decade and more ago however not anymore. Even with the best quality “Harwin” contacts, spring tension is poor, less than the lowest tension Mini-PV type, and only good for a handful of mating cycles before they have to be re-tensioned. To me, the money saved isn’t worth the extra hassle, considering that genuine Mini-PV connectors are reasonably priced when purchased in bulk.
Personal preferences aside, genuine Mini-PV connectors and contacts are rarely seen. Despite looking almost identical to common “DuPont” clones, Mini-PV contacts/housings and clone contacts/housings are surprisingly not interchangeable.
It’s barely visible, but you can make out the differences in the image above. The Mini-PV housing has just a tad less room for the contact, meaning that “DuPont” clones don’t fit. Inserting genuine contacts into clone housings doesn’t work too well either – they’re too loose, don’t latch and easily fall out.
In the years since I first published this page, I’ve only been able to identify one hand tool which is specifically designed for these contacts and crimps to spec (thanks to a tip from a reader). The vast majority of all hand crimping on these is done with generic and/or Chinese budget tools.
The Mini-PV hand tools crimp these contacts very well however aren’t designed for them, and need to be specifically adjusted to do so.
Crimping with unofficial tools
These are the one and only light contact family I’ve encountered which generic tools such as PA-09 suck at crimping. As can be clearly seen above, the insulation crimp is a mess, often these won’t even fit into the housing.
The problem is apparent when we examine the upper half of the crimp jaw. The original tool is clearly cylindrical, whereas the generic is split, with the intention of curling each side around and back down into the wire again, which is most certainly not what we want for this type of contact.
There are (as of 2020) a couple of tools which have dies like this:
Recently marketed tools with cylindrical dies
Above is the IWISS SN-025 which is sold as being for “DuPont” contacts . I’m not entirely sure it is. More about it here.
Below is an example of a cheap tool specifically designed for these contacts (and some others). Read more about it here.
Why so many cheap contacts , and so few cheap tools then?
The vast majority of these contacts are consumed in a factory setting where a pneumatic feed-through applicator is used. From an established brand, these machines are very costly. Not surprisingly, the Chinese make their own, thus they have no need for hand tools.
PH – (JST – Japan Solderless Terminal)
This 2.0mm pitch connector is very commonly seen in consumer electronics. They’re dirt cheap, reasonably compact but not so great in terms of robustness.
The official tool is WC-240.
The WC-240 is nice to use, but there’s not a lot to set it apart from generic tools for occasional use. I personally crimp a large amount of PH, hence the investment in the official tool.
Left: Contacts crimped with PA-09. Right: Contact crimped with Original tool (WC-240).
XH – (JST – Japan Solderless Terminal)
This is a slightly larger edition of the PH connector, except with 2.5mm pitch, and slightly larger contacts. Once again, mostly found in low cost consumer electronics.
I don’t use these very much but one advantage of them is height. The mated assembly is considerably slimmer than any other type of connector I use. It’s a shame the pitch isn’t 2.54mm – I would use them a lot more otherwise. That said, you can usually jam 2 or 3 (maybe even 4) position headers onto strip board if needed.
The official tool is WC-110
I wasn’t going to bother covering the differences between this tool and generic tools, because they looked so similar, but lately I’ve been noticing something –
When we look at the crimps top down from the rear, we see that the original tool has beautifully curled the insulation crimp ends around, pressing neatly on the insulation without piercing it. This explains one of my biggest gripes with these connectors, which went away when I started using the original tool: The insulation keeps tearing off.
This problem is particularly acute with this type of connector because the transition from wire to contact is at flush with the top of the housing, so if there’s already a tear created by the crimping process – it only takes a few movements back and forward to create the above mess.
Very small (1.25mm) pitch connectors commonly found on laptop and VGA card fans.
Picoblade is a type connector whose contacts are so tiny that they are quite difficult to crimp with generic tools. The Engineer PAD-11 does well with these.
KK 254 / KK .100 (Molex)
This type of connector is produced by a very large number of manufacturers. For the most part, headers and housings mate and latch fairly well across brands.
- KK 6471 – Housings
- KK 6410 – Headers
- KK 7395 – Headers (Right angle)
- 08-50-0113 – Contact (Tin plated)
- 08-50-0114 – Contact (Tin plated, Pack of 100)
The application most people have likely seen it in is as the connector for PC 2, 3, and 4 wire fans.
For the most part I don’t buy original Molex parts, with the exception of the oddball 47054-1000 housing and 47053-1000 header – both have the specially tweaked polarisation for 4-wire fans (pictured below).
- 63811-8200: Official crimp tool
Left: Contact crimped with PA-09, Right: Contact crimped with Original molex tool.
I don’t think the result of the PA-09 is unacceptable, but it requires a lot of force to get sufficient crimp on the wire part, subsequently leaving you prone to then over crimping the insulation part, in many cases severing the wire off completely, and having to start again!
The official tool is a lot easier and faster to use! it also does not end up piercing the insulation after crimping. If you crimp a lot of these like I do, I suggest waiting around on eBay for one to come up cheap, it’s worth it.
Unofficial male connectors
Unfortunately there is no standard male connector in the KK 100 family, but this hasn’t stopped a slew of unofficial connectors from being produced.
Above is a variety of Chinese manufactured connectors I’ve purchased off eBay and Alibaba which are designed to mate with KK 100 female connectors. They are only found in 2, 3 and 4 positions, because, these are the variants used for PC fans.
The quality of these is not comparable to that of the mating connectors, but perhaps this is not so surprising, given the intended market of these connectors.
SL (Molex), AMPMODU MTE (TE Connectivity)
A common 0.1″ (2.54mm) pitch connector which is similar in appearance to Mini-PV, even mates with Mini-PV but is quite different in design, in that the retention mechanism is part of the contacts, where as with Mini-PV it is part of the housing. Not surprisingly, contacts and housings are not interchangeable. It is manufactured by both TE and Molex with some minor differences.
If I were to start over, I would probably use these connectors in place of several others I commonly use, this is because it is truly a “do-it-all” connector family.
With 2.54mm pitch, they’re good for breadboard, strip board and anything else like it, they have a reliable and practical wire-to-wire male connector, they’re polarised, latching and contact retention is very good i.e. in male housings they don’t flop around risking bending on mating. There’s even panel mounting options!
They’re not particularly cheap, but if not on a budget, well worth considering.
From Molex there are two crimp tools for SL:
- 63825-8800: AWG 24, AWG 26, AWG 28, AWG 30
- 63811-8700: AWG 22, AWG 32, AWG 34, AWG 36
- 64016-0201: Budget crimp tool (Works with SL, but not designed specifically for it)
- 91531-1: $850 !!!
The 63811-8700 is not a tool the average person would use as SL is not a particularly good connector family for AWG 22, or AWG 30+ wires.
Unlike Mini-PV which almost no generic tools can crimp properly – SL Contacts crimp pretty well with off-brand tools.
As we can see from the picture above we have a familiar problem of not being able to apply the same kind of force. The original tool is designed in such a way that a large amount of pressure can be applied to a small area, but on the Engineer tool this just isn’t possible short of jamming the jaw into a vice every time, which’d be a little time consuming.
CGrid III (Molex)
Very similar to the SL series mentioned above, except cheaper and lacking latching options. These are a good choice for those looking for something in the form of “DuPont” style connectors, but better quality, and unable to stomach the punishing cost of Amphenol Mini-PV.
The design of the contacts is distinctly different to SL. They crimp more like Mini-PV contacts with an ‘O’ crimp on the insulation.
AMPMODU MOD IV (TE Connectivity)
Tired of reading about 0.1″ wire to board connectors yet? AMPMODU MOD IV is yet another example, but one from the ark. The newest equipment I’ve ever found one in was manufactured in 1986. They remain in full production to this day, for some reason or other.
The housings are quite a bit thicker than most other types. The two row housing has the same thickness as a 0.1″ IDC connector. To me the only interesting thing about this family is the housing on the left. It’s got the exact dimensions and polarisation of an IDC connector. Quite handy when in situations when mating a non-IDC cable assembly to a shrouded IDC header. Agreed, an unlikely use-case. Beyond this, these are an expensive relic.
KK 396 / KK .156 (Molex)
Effectively a jumbo version of the KK .100 connector, this is another very common wire-to-board connector of which compatible connectors are made by a large number of manufacturers. Pitch spacing is 0.156″ (3.96mm). The most likely place you will encounter them is inside of switching power supplies, almost certainly on the primary side, and possibly on the secondary side too.
As with KK .100/.254, connectors with this same 0.156″ pitch, which mate with these are available from many other manufacturers.
There are two varieties of contact: basic and “trifurcon” – a special variant which contacts the pin on three surfaces for increased current carrying capability.
- 63811-7500: Official crimp tool (This has now apparently been replaced by a new tool)
- Left: Crimped by Molex 63811-7500
- Centre: Crimped by Generic tool (HT-225D)
- Right: Crimped by Engineer PA-21
As expected, the original tool is effortless to use and gets absolutely perfect results.
Due to their larger size and awkward shape, they do not crimp easily with the Engineer tools (although it is definitely possible).
I have a cheap tool (Model # HT-225D) which does a pretty good job of these, albeit not quite applying enough force to the wire crimp.
Update: Don’t use HT-225D for crimping these contacts. I recently had a few go up in smoke under heavy load, and it was because of insufficient force on the wire crimp. I went back to check a few others too and found those were also in a dangerous melted state.
Mini-Fit Jr (Molex)
Used for 20 and 24-pin ATX power supply connectors, and for the 4, 6 and 8 pin +12V connections found in modern PCs.
There are several official crimp tools for this family:
- 64016-0200: (Budget) AWG 16-28
- 63819-0900: (Premium) AWG 16-24 (Discontinued)
- 63819-0901: (Premium) AWG 18-24
- 200218-2200: (Premium) AWG 16
The extraction tool
Sold separately (11-03-0044). If you’ve ever found yourself trying to remove already inserted contacts, you’ll appreciate one. Instead of potentially hours of uttering profanities attempting to extract contacts with sewing needles, the contacts will pop straight out with one of these.
Crimping with unofficial tools
Left is a contact crimped with the Engineer PA-21. Pretty good really, about the same result as the budget Molex tool would produce, albeit with less ability to apply the minimum recommended crimping force.
On the right is a contact crimped with the original tool, the big difference is that the insulation crimp is cleanly wrapped around the wire, whereas on the budget tool, and on generic tools, the insulation crimp has ended up piercing the insulation, which is technically a less robust result.
Mate-n-Lok – 6.35mm pitch (TE Connectivity)
Also known as Universal Mate-n-Lok. This a type of connector I have found many times in whiteware appliances, typically on a high voltage, high current connection. It is also often seen in automotive applications, as well as for battery connectors on the RC scene. At 600V it is the highest voltage rated connector I cover here. Contact rating is 19A.
Its contacts are remarkably similar to the 5.08mm pitch Mate-n-Lok connectors mentioned below, but not quite the same. They’re not interchangeable. As you may have predicted, officially there’s a different tool for them too, so that’s another months spending money if you aren’t keen to crimp them with off-brand tools.
I keep a small stock of these for high voltage applications, as they safely handle a 230V 13A load (UK max socket outlet) without breaking a sweat. They crimp perfectly with the 91504-1 tool mentioned below, despite it not being intended for this purpose. I cannot see any compelling reason for there to be another sodding tool.
- 58637-1: Current AWG 14-20 crimp tool
- 926894-1: Male crimp pin (AWG 14-20)
- 926893-1: Female crimp pin (AWG 14-20)
- 1-480698-0: 2 position receptacle
- 1-480699-0: 2 position plug
Contact extraction tool
This tool is well made and effective. Extracting contacts from receptacles (pictured above on the left) is tremendously difficult without one. Unfortunately at $60 it’s not cheap. I got mine off eBay for a song. It also works with 5.08mm pitch Mate-n-Lok connectors pictured later on this page.
Crimping with unofficial tools
I went through all my cheap eBay tools on these. The one that came out on top is labelled SN-48B. The engineer tools aren’t suitable for contacts this large.
Not too bad of a result, however not quite enough force on the wire part, this is a bit of an issue under heavy load as the thermal camera image at the top of this article shows.
Mate-n-Lok (5.08mm pitch) – TE, Formerly Tyco, Formerly AMP
Also known as Commercial Mate-n-Lok. Not a particularly popular connector family anymore but notable as the 4 position variety of these were used on 5.25″ floppy disks as far back as 1976, they were also adopted on 5.25″ PC hard drives, CD-ROM drives and 3.5″ parallel ATA hard disk drives, plus a veritable arseload of other PC related applications. The two and three position varieties are sometimes found on very old computer equipment in design specific applications only.
This connector family includes a rather uncommon member: A single position housing. The contact’s circular mating surface allows them to swivel 360°
There is a hoard of different tools for Commercial Mate-n-Lok, Pictured below are 91504-1 and 91512-1 which crimp sizes AWG14 to AWG24.
Key part numbers (AMP)
- 91504-1: AWG 14-20¹ / 2x AWG18² crimp tool
- 91512-1: AWG 18 / AWG 20-24 crimp tool
- 60619-1: AWG 14-20 Female crimp contact
- 60620-1: AWG 14-20 Male crimp pin
- 1-480426-0: 4 position male housing
- 1-480424-0: 4 position female housing
¹ Although the singe wire die states AWG 14-20, it’s more like an AWG 14-16 in practice.
² Special contacts with longer tabs are required when crimping two wires into a single contact.
Contact extraction tool
Is a piece of rubbish made of some kind of brittle metal. It broke about 10 minutes after I received it. I’m normally a sucker for a good contact extractor but this was a complete waste of $20. The Universial Mate-n-Lok (6.35mm pitch) extractor pictured earlier is significantly better quality, and works perfectly on these connectors.
Molex introduced a compatible connector (for the 4 position variety only) in 1983 imaginatively named “Disk Drive Power Connection System”, making them a second supplier of what was by then a very popular connector in the PC industry. Despite (somehow?) their name becoming the vernacular term for this type of connector, they have since exited this market, with all parts either discontinued or near end of life.
In practice it is unlikely that one would ever encounter a Molex branded connector. Where quality parts are utilised; Mate-n-Lok is the more common choice given AMP’s long term commitment to this family.
Molex contacts have a special retention feature for the locator in the tool, which makes both the tool and the contacts incompatible with anything else. Male Molex contacts are larger at the throat than other makes, meaning they fit very tightly in the housing, so one does not have to manually line up the pins before mating, however because of this they do not interchange with other branded parts. Unless like me you have a propensity for collecting crimp tools and connectors I would not recommend attempting to obtain any of the above.
Crimping with unofficial tools
The IWISS SN-2549 does a good job of crimping Mate-n-Lok.
Mini-Fit Sr (Molex)
A commonly used heavy (50 amp) power connector. It has no frequent consumer uses, but is often used industrially for battery connectors, chargers, large motor controllers, DC power supplies etc.
Despite the similarity of the name to Mini-Fit Jr, that’s about where it ends – these connectors are big. They would make a very a reliable replacement for cigar plugs in marine/automotive applications.
There are three official crimp tools for this family:
Given the amount of force required to crimp these, I’m doubtful there is much in the way of good unofficial crimp tools. Even with 63811-1600 – large enough to bludgeon someone to death with, crimping requires significant elbow grease.
Half measures aren’t generally a good idea when you’re dealing with something that carries the kind of power these are designed for. If you don’t have the tool, I would suggest carefully soldering contacts – unless you’re looking to start a fire. Mini-Fit Sr contacts are near impossible to reliably manually crimp with pliers.
Mini-FIt Sr in recent years has become my go-to for big DC power connections. The one gripe I have is that in the case of the AWG8 contacts – Molex appeared to have forgone the possibility of an insulation crimp. Instead those larger contacts are crimped entirely onto the wire, leaving nothing restraining the insulation, which isn’t as robust as what we end up with on AWG10+ sized contacts.
The AWG 14/16 tool understandably requires smaller contacts. I find it a little difficult to insert the contacts into the tool, so not so great for usability, In any case, these wire sizes are far too puny for the monster size and carrying capacity of these connectors. If you are using AWG 14/16, it’s because everything else in your system uses a bigger size, and you want something smaller on this one particular occasion. That can make splashing out on this tool hard to justify.
AWG 10/12 are the optimum wire sizes for Mini-Fit Sr.
These look identical to Mini-Fit Jr, but quite a bit smaller. Not often seen in consumer products but has occasional use in small ‘DC’ / ITX / Automotive PC power supply applications. I’ve also seen them in other unusual applications such as the connector on the DC end of the plug pack for HP Printers and Cisco routers.
- 63819-0000: Official crimp tool
The extraction tool
Similar in appearance to the Mini-Fit Jr extraction tool, but used quite differently. Read the manual.
Microfit 3.0 contacts crimp fairly well with generic tools:
As always when using generic tools, results are usable but not entirely ideal. The insulation crimp has clearly pierced the insulation, meaning it would be at risk of tearing under mechanical stress. Another issue I noticed is that the contact ends up bent vertically a little too, due to the awkward un-crimped shape of the contact. This means that you’ll have to bend each contact straight again before insertion into the housing.
Due to their small size and high current capacity, these have become one of my favourite connectors.
2.0mm pitch. Was used by parallel ATA laptop hard disks. Has a few current uses i.e. USB 3.0 internal headers. Compatible connectors are manufactured by many other companies.
.250 FASTON, .187 FASTON – TE Connectivity
PIDG terminals a bit too cheap for you? Fear not…
FASTON is a proper connector family, yielding very professional looking terminations, with a proper $1600 tool to match. They crimp OK in common tools like the SN-48B tools for wire sizes AWG18+.
Annoyingly (and predictably) there is a brace of different tools for FASTON contacts, for example, there are at least four tools for .250 contacts, and .187 contacts have a different tool too (91509-1). I don’t have it. The IWISS SN-2549 crimps these very nicely. Male “tab” contacts require the massive AWG10-14 tool due to the material thickness. I use my Mini-Fit Sr 63811-1600 tool for these.
- 41274: 0.250″ AWG 14-18 Female contact
- 63609-2: 0.250″ AWG 18-22 Female contact
- 1-170823-8: 0.250″ Clear sleeve
- 41412: 0.250″ Male tab contact (requires a large AWG 10/12 tool to crimp)
- 61758-2: 0.187″ Female contact
- 1-170823-3: 0.187″ Clear sleeve
E.I. – Economical Interconnect – TE, Formerly Tyco, Formerly AMP
E.I. is most commonly known by its 4 position variant which became the de-facto standard power connection for PC 3 ½” floppy drives, and various other peripherals which installed into 3 ½” drive bays.
Despite its ostensible obsolescence by its original floppy drive use-case, this type of connector lives on as a sundry power connection for a variety of items which people install into their PCs requiring only a small amount of power. Contemporary power supplies still also include this type of connector and adapters to it from other types of connector are still sold in reasonable quantities. Unless some kind of new standardised power connection surfaces which meets this need, it isn’t going away. Clearly someone is still using the other types for some unknown purpose as well, as this product line and all its variants remain in full production.
There is a swag of different tools for E.I. as one would expect for an AMP connector family, but the one most commonly used is 91556-1 which crimps AWG 20-26 wire, with the corresponding sized contacts.
Molex 90331/8619 series
The IBM PC 5150 was the first type of computer to use a connector compatible with these for the power supply connection to the mainboard, and also internally inside the power supply – but from a different manufacturer. I have not been able to identify who originally marketed this type of connector. They were used for the power supply to mainboard connection for PCs up to the Pentium I era. Starting around 1998 they were gradually replaced by Mini-Fit Jr connectors, which are specified in the ATX standard.
The original series came in a number of different positions. On this page I show an obscure 4 position example from the original mystery manufacturer – “P4” which was used for the AC Fan.
Molex only ever produced a 6 position variety of this connector, as this was the only one which came to be incorporated into the XT/AT standard.
The most useful housing is 90331-0001 which comes with all polarising ribs attached, allowing one to snip off the remainder to achieve the desired polarisation. Unfortunately for anyone needing them, they’re now rather difficult to come by.
- 8619: PCB Headers
- 90331: Housings
- 2478: Crimp contacts
- 63811-7500: Official crimp tool
AMPLIMITE – TE, Formerly Tyco, Formerly AMP
There are quite a few manufacturers of crimp D-Sub connectors. I ended up with the tools for these from a job lot, so that’s what I’ve mentioned here. D-Sub’s are normally soldered, however there are some scenarios where it is desirable to crimp them:
- Where large numbers of connectors are terminated by hand – crimping is easier
- In applications of significant mechanical stress – crimped terminations are more robust
- In my case – I can’t be bothered with backshells most of the time, and found that even heat-shrink covered terminations were constantly breaking, so switched to crimping, resulting in easier-to-make longer-lasting cable assemblies.
Example part numbers:
- 66683-4: Female contact
- 66682-4: Male contact
- 205203-3: Female housing size E / 9 position
- 205204-4: Male housing size E / 9 position
There is a plenitude of current and former crimp tools for these connectors, supporting various different wire sizes, as well as contacts with and without insulation support.
Unsurprisingly the current tools are very expensive. eBay is awash with the older tools for reasonable prices. Unless working with large wire sizes, 90374-1 is probably the only one worth bothering with. The 90265-1 tool I’ve pictured is for contacts which don’t have an insulation support. I am unsure why anyone would choose such an arrangement.
In terms of crimping these with budget tools, there’s nothing particularly special about them. Tools like the Engineer PAD-11 will suffice for hobbyist applications.
The only budget tools I use
Pictured above are the only two generic tools I that I still use (since I have the manufacturer tools for everything else).
I use the SN-2546B for “fixing” insulation crimps which I’m not happy with, for example, all of the FASTON tools crimp the insulation too lightly on smaller wire sizes, so I re-crimp those with this tool afterwards if needed. It’s not designed for this, but having a set of single large dies, it works well for it.
The IWS-02B is designed for “buckle” crimps (un-insulated wire joiners), but I found it does very nice crimps on pre-insulated contacts:
The above image demonstrates why I’ve abandoned my pre-insulated crimp terminal tool. When I cut open the contact crimped with the IWS-02B, contact and wire are crimped nicely into a solid mass of copper. I then finish this with a layer of glue-lined heat-shrink, making an inexpensive but excellent termination.
When I cut open the contact crimped with the recommended tool, all of the wire strands fell out. Hardly a termination I feel I could trust.
You’ve got a type of connector which I haven’t listed here
Over the years I have received hundreds of emails from people asking me to identify obscure connectors. I didn’t know what any of them were. In summary: If it’s not here, I don’t know what it is. I would have to spend hours looking through thousands of pictures of connectors on re-sellers websites to identify it. I do not have time for this!
From time to time I come across obscure rarely used connectors too. Because we live in a world where there are tens of thousands of different types if connectors, it can take (even me) days to identify these. My general approach is to measure the pitch between the contacts with calipers. You should be able to work out its spacing i.e. 1.0mm 1.5mm 0.1″ 0.2″ (2.54mm, 5.08mm) etc. Enter this measurement as well as the number of contacts (any other visibly obvious features) into either Mouser or Digi-key’s parametric search on their connectors category. You may just find it.