- Original / Generic tool comparison
- Why to not solder contacts
- Mini-PV – Amphenol, M20 – Harwin (and other “DuPont” clones)
- Common JST Connectors
- Molex KK 254 / KK .100
- SL (Molex), AMPMODU MTE (TE Connectivity)
- M22 (Harwin), Milli-Grid (Molex)
- Tiger Eye 2.0mm (Samtec)
- CGrid III (Molex)
- AMPMODU MOD IV (TE Connectivity)
- Molex KK 396 / KK .156
- Molex Mini-Fit Sr
- Molex Mini-Fit Jr
- Universal Mate-n-Lok (6.35mm pitch) – TE Connectivity
- Commercial Mate-n-Lok (5.08mm pitch) – TE, Formerly Tyco, Formerly AMP
- Molex Micro-Fit
- .250 FASTON, .187 FASTON – TE Connectivity
- AMP E.I.
- Molex 90331/8619 series
- AMPLIMITE (TE Connectivity)
- Molex Picoblade
- 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 and/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 conductor part.
My recommended budget tools
- IWISS SN-2549. A 4 die tool for smaller contacts. 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, JST PH. It has a cleanly machined jaw, so contacts won’t get stuck in it. It crimps the conductor and insulation in a single action, with the ratchet double hinge mechanism providing good force on the conductor part. It tends to apply too much force to the insulation part, but one cannot have it all on a budget.
- IWISS SN-58B. Another good 4 die tool from IWISS, however all significantly larger than the SN-2549. Recommended if you work with larger contacts.
- 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.
For those with a little more to spend
Several readers have written to me about this tool over the years – it’s generally well spoken of. I recently obtained a sample myself and can confirm that it’s a good option for those happy to spend a bit more. It tends to cost around $70-80 and has to be ordered from Japan.
It has two features which many generic tools lack:
- Lots of conductor crimping force. Its compound hinge amplifies the crimping force, meaning you can have as much as you like, you can even crush the contact into two if you so desire. Single hinge tools like the Engineer PA-XX models cannot achieve this unless one has an extremely strong grip, or the tool is compressed in a vice.
- It has two ‘O’ shaped crimping dies, something that is rarely seen on generic tools. This means it does good ‘DuPont’ crimps. More about that here.
- The above two features are combined in a tool which crimps conductor and insulation separately. This gets around another common problem with generic tools where these are combined, in that one may be under or over crimped. You can crimp both separately to whatever extent you require.
It’s not a clear-cut winner however as it is more effort to use than the IWISS ratcheting tools and gets less consistent results, owing to the fact that crimping force is controlled by your hand.
IWISS have added an exact copy of this tool to their catalogue – IWS-1442L. Don’t expect it to be made to the same standard as the Hozan. Personally I would prefer they spent their efforts improving the mediocre results of their own designed crimp tools, rather than copying others.
Do your own research too. There are thousands of generic crimp tools out there. I cannot test them all.
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 conductor, 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).
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, M20 – Harwin (and other “DuPont” clones)
These (and look-a-likes) are the most commonly used type by hobbyists. I have a separate page with a lot of detail relating to these.
Common JST Connectors
Another range of common types used by hobbyists. There are quite a few to cover. I’ve detailed them on a separate page.
KK 254 / KK .100 (Molex)
Connectors resembling these are produced by many manufacturers, most of whom are anonymous factories in mainland China, whose product is sold under a plethora of different brand names. For the most part, headers and housings mate and latch fairly well across brands.
As explained in the caption above, Molex/TE’s housing design is different to most no-name types of this connector. I’ve not been able to identify a well-known manufacturer who produces these with the longer (superior) polarising ribs.
Despite my dislike of Molex’s polarisation design – I don’t use the more common no-brand types anymore as several years ago I had a bunch of them fail after 18 months due to corrosion on the mating surface. I have since replaced all them with Molex Gold plated types which have now been running for 4 years without incident.
Example part numbers (Molex)
Numbers in bold can be changed to order connectors with a different number of positions.
|Contact AWG 22-30 (Tin plated)||08-50-0114|
|Contact AWG 22-30 (Selective gold plated, mating surface only)||08-55-0102|
|Housing 3 position||22-01-2035|
|Housing 4 position (PC fan style polarisation)||47054-1000|
|Header 3 position (Tin)||22-27-2031|
|Header 3 position (Gold plated)||22-29-2031|
|Header 4 position (Tin plated, PC fan style polarisation)||47053-1000|
|Header right angle 3 position (Gold plated)||22-12-4032|
|Header right angle 3 position (Tin plated)||22-05-7038|
|Hand crimp tool AWG 22-30||63811-8200|
Unofficial male connectors
Unfortunately there is no standard male connector in the KK 254 family, but this hasn’t stopped a slew of unofficial connectors from being produced. These connectors bear and extraordinary resemblance to the Molex SPOX 5420 series (SPOX is a similar, but incompatible type, which does have a wire-to-wire male).
Above is a variety of Chinese manufactured connectors I’ve purchased off eBay and Alibaba which are designed to mate with KK 254 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 / “DuPont” types, even mates with them 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. It is manufactured by both TE and Molex with some minor differences. Chinese reproductions of this type are common.
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 positioning 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.
The downside is that PCB headers have a large footprint. Mini-PV is a connector family with comparable versatility including polarised PCB headers of significantly smaller footprint, and better quality contacts, however at slightly higher cost.
Example part numbers (Molex)
Numbers in bold can be changed to order connectors with a different number of positions. Non latched, and dual row types are also available.
|Female contact AWG 24-30 (Gold plated)||16-02-0082|
|Female contact AWG 24-30 (Tin plated)||16-02-0069|
|Male contact AWG 24-30 (Gold plated)||16-02-0077|
|Male contact AWG 24-30 (Tin plated)||16-02-0105|
|Housing 4×1 position female (with latch)||50-57-9404|
|Housing 2×1 position male (with latch)||70107-0001|
|Housing 4×1 position male (with latch)||70107-0003|
|PCB Header 2 position (Gold plated, with latch)||70543-0001|
|PCB Header 4 position (Gold plated, with latch)||70543-0003|
|PCB Header 2 position (Tin plated, with latch)||70543-0036|
|PCB Header 4 position (Tin plated, with latch)||70543-0038|
|Hand crimp tool AWG 24, AWG 26, AWG 28, AWG 30||63825-8800|
|Hand crimp tool AWG 22, AWG 32, AWG 34, AWG 36||63811-8700|
|Hand crimp tool AWG 24-30 (Historic)||11-01-0209|
|Hand crimp tool AWG 22-24, AWG 30-36 (Historic)||11-01-0208|
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.
M22 (Harwin), Milli-Grid (Molex)
A common 2.0mm pitch grid type connector. Available in single and dual row configurations. Similar types are made by both Harwin and Molex. Harwin’s type is cloned by Chinese manufacturers and is significantly more common.
Example part numbers (Harwin)
Numbers in bold can be changed to order connectors with a different number of positions.
|Contact AWG 24-30||M22-3050042|
|Blank polarising plug||M22-0340000|
|Housing 4×1 position||M22-3010400|
|Housing 4×2 position||M22-3020400|
|PCB Header 4×1 position||M22-2010405|
|PCB Header 4×2 position||M22-2020446|
|Hand crimp tool||Z22-020|
M22 and Milli-Grid contacts crimp easily and cleanly with tools like the Engineer PAD-11, however with the usual problem of significantly less force on the conductor part, which means cable assembles have to be pulled from the connector body (not the wire) to avoid wire pulling from the contacts.
Tiger Eye 2.0mm (Samtec)
A exceptionally rare example of a two row wire-to-wire connector system. In total I have only ever identified two such types of connector, other other being dual row Mini-PV. If you come across any more, please let me know!
CGrid III (Molex)
Very similar to the SL series mentioned above, except cheaper, lower quality and lacking latching options. These are an option for those looking for something in the form of “DuPont” style connectors, but better quality, and cheaper than genuine Mini-PV connectors.
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. The IWISS SN-025 is a tool I found crimps these very well despite it not being inteded for this purpose.
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.
Example part numbers (read notes below first)
All of the part numbers specified below are for the “natural” colour types as pictured above. They are also available in black and white (left, above).
If supplied by Molex, black housings are for “glow wire” compatibility (they don’t spontaneously ignite in the event of a connection overloaded to glowing point). White housings are for UL94-0 fire safety compliance, i.e. they’re less flammable than the “natural” coloured types, however more expensive.
No-brand (non Molex) types are often coloured black for aesthetic reasons typically for use in PCs, and are made of low quality plastics which do not feature the improved fire safety ratings of Molex types.
Contact and header part numbers are for the most common Tin plated types. Gold plated types are also available however these should not be used unless both mating sides are gold plated.
Numbers in bold can be changed to order connectors with a different number of positions.
|Female contact AWG 18-24||39-00-0039|
|Male contact AWG 18-24||39-00-0041|
|Female contact AWG 22-28||39-00-0047|
|Male contact AWG 22-28||39-00-0049|
|Housing 2×1 position (female receptacle)||39-01-4020|
|Housing 4×1 position (female receptacle)||39-01-4040|
|Housing 1×2 position (female receptacle)||39-01-2020|
|Housing 2×2 position (female receptacle)||39-01-2040|
|Housing 2×1 position (male plug, no panel mount)||46999-0655|
|Housing 2×1 position (male plug, panel mount)||46999-0656|
|Housing 2×2 position (male plug, no panel mount)||39-01-3043|
|Housing 2×2 position (male plug, panel mount)||39-01-2041|
|PCB Header 3×1 position (with mounting peg)||39-30-1039|
|PCB Header 4×1 position (with mounting peg)||39-30-1049|
|PCB Header 2×1 position (no mounting peg)||39-28-1023|
|PCB Header 2×2 position (no mounting peg)||39-28-1043|
|PCB Header 2×2 position (with mounting peg)||39-29-9023|
|PCB Header 4×2 position (with mounting peg)||39-29-9043|
|Budget hand crimp tool AWG 16-28||64016-0200|
|Premium hand crimp tool AWG 16-24 (Historic)||63819-0900|
|Premium hand crimp tool AWG 18-24 (Historic)||11-01-0197|
|Premium hand crimp tool AWG 18-24 (Current)||63819-0901|
|Premium hand crimp tool AWG 16 (Current)||200218-2200|
|Premium hand crimp tool AWG 22-28 (Current)||63819-1000|
The extraction tool
Sold separately. 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.
Crimp tool considerations
Above is a selection of crimps by various tools, including Molex original and some others which do a fairly decent job, with the exception of the IWISS SN-28B on AWG16, which is too loose for serious use.
For AWG24+ wire sizes, smaller contacts i.e. 39-00-0047 are used. Note that both 63819-0900/0901 and 63819-1000 both support AWG 24 but in each case, contacts for appropriately sized for the tool must be used.
There are of course many other possible combinations. I cannot cover them all. I wrote a bit more about Mini-Fit Jr on this page.
Universal Mate-n-Lok – 6.35mm pitch (TE Connectivity)
Also known as Universal Mate-n-Lok. 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.
Example part numbers
|Female contact AWG 14-20||926893-1|
|Male contact AWG 14-20||926894-1|
|Housing 2 position (receptacle)||1-480698-0|
|Housing 2 position (plug / “cap”)||1-480699-0|
|Current AWG 14-20 crimp tool||58637-1|
|Historic AWG 14-20 crimp tool||90296-2|
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 conductor part, this is a bit of an issue under heavy load as the thermal camera image at the top of this article shows.
Universal Mate-n-Lok “High Current” variant
These connectors come in an unadvertised variation which increases the contact rating to 31A with wire sizes up to a massive AWG 10. Contacts are incompatible with regular types. PCB headers are loaded with large female contacts which look distinctly different. They also require different housings and a different crimp tool (Daniels M310).
|“High Current” male contact AWG 12-14||193841-1|
|“High Current” female contact AWG 12-14||193842-1|
|“High Current” 2 position housing||770017-1|
|“High Current” 2 position PCB header||193839-1|
Commercial 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.
Example part numbers (TE)
|Female contact AWG 14-20||60619-1|
|Male contact AWG 14-20||60620-1|
|Housing female 4 position (Disk drive style polarisation)||1-480424-0|
|Housing male 4 position (Disk drive style polarisation)||1-480426-0|
|AWG 18 / AWG 20-24 crimp tool||91512-1|
|AWG 14-20¹ / 2x AWG18² crimp tool||91504-1|
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 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.
There was a predecessor to the 63811-7000 tool show above with the part number 11-01-0206 – in the unlikely event you are seeking a tool for these connectors.
Crimping with unofficial tools
The IWISS SN-58B 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 conductor, 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 similar to Mini-Fit Jr, but scaled down. 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: AWG 20-30 crimp tool
- 63828-0200: AWG 18 crimp tool
Molex have recently added an AWG 18 option to Micro-Fit, which I very much welcome however note that a new tool, and different contacts is required. The AWG 18 tool also has a 0.75mm² die with barely a fag paper of difference.
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.
.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+.
Example part numbers
|0.250″ AWG 14-18 Female terminal||41274|
|0.250″ AWG 18-22 Female terminal||63609-2|
|0.250″ Clear sleeve||1-170823-8|
|0.250″ Male tab terminal (requires a large AWG 10/12 tool to crimp)||41412|
|0.187″ Female terminal||61758-2|
|0.187″ Clear sleeve||1-170823-3|
|.250″ Hand crimp tool AWG 14-18||90165-1|
|.250″ Hand crimp tool AWG 18-22 (Historic)||90166-1|
|.187″ Hand crimp tool AWG 16-22||91509-1|
|.187″ Hand crimp tool AWG 16-22 (Historic)||90180-1|
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. The IWISS SN-2549 crimps these very nicely. Male “tab” contacts require the massive AWG 10-14 tool due to the material thickness. I use my Mini-Fit Sr 63811-1600 tool for these.
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. It may have been Berg who originally introduced this type but considerable research efforts by myself have failed to confirm this.
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. They made a brief re-appearance in the early 2000s with AMD’s supplementary CPU power connector however this was quickly supplanted by Intel’s 4-position 12V CPU power connector.
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
|Female contact (with insulation support)||66683-4|
|Male contact (with insulation support)||66682-4|
|Female housing size E / 9 position||205203-3|
|Male housing size E / 9 position||205204-4|
|Hand crimp tool for contacts with insulation support||91549-1|
|Hand crimp tool for contacts with insulation support (historic)||90374-1|
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 Hozan P-707 or Engineer PAD-11 will suffice for hobbyist applications.
A very small (1.25mm) pitch connector.
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.
The only budget tools I (still) 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 conductor 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 conductor 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.
Molex have a good web page with pictures summing up their wire-to-board connector products.
The most likely bet however are JST who have a very large range of products. They have reasonable product listing too.