The easiest and most reliable way to make RS232 and other wired connections

There are a couple of ways to make RS232 and similar cables, either by soldering or crimping:

  1. Soldering is time consuming and can be difficult to do correctly, especially for the novice or those that don’t do it regularly. Moreover, problems with solder contacts sometimes don’t show up until years later, when a weak solder connection fails.
  2. Crimping can be much faster, but the quality of the connection is largely dependent on the parts (pins and hoods) used. The type of crimp connector found at radio shack and other electronics outlets are hard to crimp correctly and if there is any strain on the wire, it can easily pull out.

I have found that the best solution is to use crimping, but with a military spec pin and crimper. With this solution, we can make cables quickly and reliably. The pins and tool are not cheap, but neither is a trip back to a job site to troubleshooting a bad wire. In addition, the pins can be easily reconfigured in the event of a mistake or changing of equipment, making the cables more re-useable. The long term payoff is well worth the investment in the upfront cost of materials. Here is what I recommend:

1). Crimper from Ideal (~$120). Here is where I got mine: Techni-Tool.

2). Pins from Stanley Tools. If you find or know of another supplier, please let me know

3). Stanley also sells the DB-9 backshell, but they are over-priced. I like the ones from Digi-Key:

  • The Male backshells are part 1709MA-ND.
  • The Female backshells are part 1709FA-ND.
  • Both can be ordered here.
  • Digi-Key also sells hoods for these backshells.

Below are some photos showing how to use these tools to make a crimp connection.

Note: I learned about this method of making RS232 connections from a client that was in the Air Force and worked on the electrical systems of various aircraft using these crimp tools and techniques.

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