Raspberry Pi Pico Tips and Tricks

Sunday 9 October 2022

Raspberry Pi Pico: Using Dupont Connectors


Connecting using Dupont Connectors

Event if you don’t recognise the name, if you’ve played around inside a computer there is a better than even chance that you’ve come across a Dupont connector.

They’re those small black plastic plugs that are used to connect things like the leds or USB connectors to your computers motherboard. They come in a range of different configurations and they are possibly one of the most underused mechanisms available for making ad-hoc connections between your Raspberry Pi Pico and external sensors or small boards. In fact, they can be used with a wide range of different areas and are limited only by the presence of a suitable connection point.

I've written this short explanation as part of the much larger book 'Raspberry Pi Pico Tips and Tricks'. You can download it for free (or donate if you wish) from here.

What are Dupont Connectors?

Technically there’s no actual industry term that calls out Dupont connectors. The style people commonly refer to as ‘Dupont’ is a variation of a black, low profile rectangular form with a 2.54mm standard pitch.

Dupont Connectors in the Wild

Off course the Dupont connector is just one half of a connector pair. The most common mating platform for them is to a header pin. A header pin (or simply a header) is a form of electrical connector. A male pin header consists of one or more rows of metal pins molded into a plastic base, 2.54 mm (0.1 in) apart.

Header Pins

These can be straight, angled, single-in-line, dual-in-line and a myriad of other options.

The Dupont connector slips directly onto a header pin and because they share the same pitch (distance apart of the pins) of 2.54mm they can be similarly ganged together in a myriad of ways.

Female Pin Enclosures

By far and away the simplest method of utilising this method of connectivity is to purchase bulk lots of the pre-made connectors. These can be male or female and commonly come joined to what is called ‘Rainbow Cable’.

Pre-made Dupont Connectors

These are incredibly cheap and unless you have a very specific length that is required for a project, they are so easy to use they will quickly become ubiquitous for your project work.

Re-using Connectors

One of the cool things about Dupont connectors is that they can be adjusted by slipping the internal metal connectors out of their casings and placed into new casings. So if you have a set of cables in a three way connector, but the header that you want to connect to doesn’t have the connection points directly beside each other, not problem. Just use a small, flat bladed jewellers screwdriver or similar to gently bend up the plastic flap that is keeping the connector shroud in place. You can then slip the internal wire and connector out of the black plastic housing and place it into three separate single housings. Easy peasy.

Crimping Your Own Dupont Connectors

This is totally do-able and you will find all the materials to carry out the task online. However, as I mentioned earlier, unless you have a specific use for it, it’s probably just easier to utilise the pre-made versions.

However, if you have a need to construct your own connectors, the most important thing to know is that it’s a good idea to practice a few times before doing it for real. It isn’t too hard, but it’s worth having a few tries to get the feel of it. I’m not going to describe the method for constructing your own pins since there are a wealth of different methods and the written word can’t compare to a YouTube video of it being done and that’s not really my bag (maybe one day). I can advise that while there are plenty of tools for doing the job, with a little bit of practice you can get by with a sharp knife / scalpel for stripping the wires (for crying out loud be careful) and a par of needle nosed pliers. Certainly if you’re doing connectors on a regular basis or in an area where there needs to be a high standard of consistency and finish, proper tooling will be essential. But if you’re a hobbyist then why not?

Don't forget, if you're looking for the book 'Raspberry Pi Pico Tips and Tricks'. You can download it for free (or donate if you wish) from here.

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