Make IDC Cables

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Howto Make IDC Cables


IDC cables are very awesome, and very easy. First off, IDC stands for Insulation Displacement Connector. These are connectors made from 2 parts: ribbon cable and an IDC connector. The IDC connector simply and easily clamps onto the cable, and the connection is formed.

You can read more about this from Electus or Wikipedia.


You'll need:

  • an IDC connector
  • .050" ribbon cable (red/gray or rainbow)
  • a vise

Make It

Step 1: Insert Cable Into Connector

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If your connector has fewer pins than the ribbon cable, peel away the extras. Once you've done that, insert the cable into the connector. If you're using gray cable with a red index wire, line that index wire up with the Pin 1 indicator. In this example, that indicator is the manufacturer's mark, 'Berg'.

Also note, the ribbon cable should extend out from the connector away from the polarizing center tab for easy insertion.

Once you have it inserted and lined up properly, gently press down the connector to hold it in place.

Step 2: Compress and Lock IDC Connector

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In order to make the connection, the metal forks must be pressed into the ribbon cable, pierce the insulation, and make contact with the wire inside. This is most easily accomplished with a simple vise. Place the connector in the vise, and gently close it until the assembly is pressed together. Tabs will lock it into place and your IDC header will be functional.

Step 3: Attach Strain Relief (optional)

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Some IDC connectors come with strain relief. This is more common on the connectors with small pin counts. If your connector has this, its very simple to attach. First, bend the cable over the top of the connector, then attach the strain relief bracket. It should snap into place.

Rainbow Cables

If you happen to have rainbow cable aka 'hippie cable' like the ones provided in the MakerBot kits, here's how you put them together. The process is identical to the process above, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that Wire 1 aka the Index is the Brown cable. Below is the same process, but with a rainbow cable:

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