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'[EE]: Ribbon cables with PCBs'
2002\07\26@175633 by Brendan Moran

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What is the best solution for connecting a ribbon cable to a PCB in
an environment that will demand flex in the ribbon cable?  The extant
problem is the likelyhood that the ribbon cable will tear out of the
PCB over time.

Thanks,

- --Brendan

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2002\07\26@181757 by Matt Pobursky

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IDC ribbon cable with strain relief (the "fold the cable through and
secure" type as found on the better IDE disk drive cables), mated to a
female socket with "locking ears" on the PCB.

I've had these assemblies tested on shaker tables for 1000's of hours
with no failures and used them in NASA flight tested and certified
systems (actually have some on the ISS as we speak!) as well as
industrial equipment in Nuclear and Hydroelectric power plants. Very
reliable and not all that expensive.

The key is a good quality connector and proper cable termination and
assembly. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines and you'll get a very
reliable connection even with lots of cable flex.

Any cable connection directly to a PCB (i.e. a mechanically "hard"
joint) that is subject to flex and vibration is bad karma. It's going
to fail due to metal fatigue at the attachment points, it's just a
matter a time.

Matt Pobursky
Maximum Performance Systems

On Fri, 26 Jul 2002 14:56:25 -0700, Brendan Moran wrote: -----BEGIN PGP
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What is the best solution for connecting a ribbon cable to a PCB in an
environment that will demand flex in the ribbon cable?  The extant
problem is the likelyhood that the ribbon cable will tear out of the
PCB over time.

Thanks,

- --Brendan

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2002\07\26@183017 by Brendan Moran

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> IDC ribbon cable with strain relief (the "fold the cable through
> and secure" type as found on the better IDE disk drive cables),
> mated to a female socket with "locking ears" on the PCB.

Sounds like a good solution, but what would you do in a situation
using, say, 6 conductors?  AFAIK 6conductor IDC connectors are
practically unavailable.  Just find some use for the extra 4 wires?

- --Brendan

P.S. I've never liked wires hard-soldered to a PCB.  I've always
thought it's bad design.

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2002\07\26@190855 by Mike Singer

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Brendan Moran wrote:
> > IDC ribbon cable with strain relief (the "fold the cable through
> > and secure" type as found on the better IDE disk drive cables),
> > mated to a female socket with "locking ears" on the PCB.
>
> Sounds like a good solution, but what would you do in a situation
> using, say, 6 conductors?  AFAIK 6conductor IDC connectors are
> practically unavailable.  Just find some use for the extra 4 wires?
>
> - --Brendan
>
> P.S. I've never liked wires hard-soldered to a PCB.  I've always
> thought it's bad design.
>

  May be you should have look inside CD-ROM, FDD,
HDD or printer (ink-jet or dot-matrix).

  Mike.

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2002\07\26@192500 by Brendan Moran

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>    May be you should have look inside CD-ROM, FDD,
> HDD or printer (ink-jet or dot-matrix).

I know what you mean, but those are not suitable for this
application.  I want a cable that behaves like a standard external
interconnect cable for a computer. Eg. parallel, serial, USB,
IEEE1394, PS/2, etc..

The cables that you are talking about (Plastic coated metal in a
ribbon shape, usually brown, transparent where there are no
conductors, connected to via small plastic headers) are effective
where they are used: connections to devices that either don't move,
or move within defined guidelines.

For something that moves without defined guidelines, different cables
are used.  Have you ever wondered why those plastic cables aren't
used for IDE interconnect?

If you use the cables in a harsher environment, I suspect that they
will degrade rapidly.

Besides they are not exactly aesthetically pleasing.

- --Brendan

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2002\07\26@193656 by Jinx

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> Besides they are not exactly aesthetically pleasing.

I would have suggested some silicone as a strain relief (you
can shape it to some extent) but is that also a bit on the "scruffy"
side ?

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2002\07\26@194730 by Brendan Moran

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> > Besides they are not exactly aesthetically pleasing.
>
> I would have suggested some silicone as a strain relief (you
> can shape it to some extent) but is that also a bit on the
> "scruffy" side ?
Hmm... If that were *inside* the box, it might be ok.

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2002\07\26@195149 by Mike Singer

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Brendan Moran wrote:
>   I want a cable that behaves like a standard external
> interconnect cable for a computer. Eg. parallel, serial, USB,
> IEEE1394, PS/2, etc..
>
  If you want "like a standard external interconnect cable
for a computer. Eg. parallel, serial", why not get one of them?

  Mike.

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2002\07\26@200210 by Brendan Moran

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>    If you want "like a standard external interconnect cable
> for a computer. Eg. parallel, serial", why not get one of them?

Too many pins, too bulky, and too expensive.  I need an 8-pin cable
or a 6-pin cable.  Ribbon cable is just fine for the job, but not
that plastic junk that you find in floppy drives.

It needs to be small as well, because it has to interface on a PCB
that fits inside a very small container.  Hmm... Now that I think
about it, an 8-pin miniDIN might do the job quite nicely, thanks!

- --Brendan

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2002\07\26@214037 by Matt Pobursky

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If you need only a few connections but mechanical stability, flex
resistance, good strain relief, etc. -- look at some of the circular
connectors out there like Amp's (Tyco) CPC line. Hirose and Conxall
make some good connectors too. They are small like mini-DIN's, but have
a mechanical twist lock mating system and good strain relief built into
them. You can then use whatever cable is appropriate for the signals
you're dealing with. Mini-DIN's always worry me in anything but a
static installation since they are just a pressure fit and any cable
forces will be transferred to the connector body and pins directly.

The Amp CPC connectors are plastic body parts, the Hirose parts use
higher quality metal casings (I've used these in hi-rel medical
devices) and the Conxall parts are plastic and can be sealed for rugged
(waterproof) use. None of them are too expensive and they are all
reasonably easy to use. PC mounting can be tricky though -- they are
really panel mount connectors but a bit of ingenuity on the packaging
side can make them work out OK. You might also consider a small
intermediate PC board that uses a simple (cheap) Molex style
connector/cable to get your signals from your PC board to the panel
mounted circular connector.

Isn't packaging a design fun? ;-)

Matt Pobursky
Maximum Performance Systems

On Fri, 26 Jul 2002 17:01:49 -0700, Brendan Moran wrote: -----BEGIN PGP
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>If you want "like a standard external interconnect cable for a
>computer. Eg. parallel, serial", why not get one of them?

Too many pins, too bulky, and too expensive.  I need an 8-pin cable or
a 6-pin cable.  Ribbon cable is just fine for the job, but not that
plastic junk that you find in floppy drives.

It needs to be small as well, because it has to interface on a PCB that
fits inside a very small container.  Hmm... Now that I think about it,
an 8-pin miniDIN might do the job quite nicely, thanks!

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2002\07\27@004602 by Russell McMahon

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> > P.S. I've never liked wires hard-soldered to a PCB.  I've always
> > thought it's bad design.

>    May be you should have look inside CD-ROM, FDD,
> HDD or printer (ink-jet or dot-matrix).

I'm going to sound like old granny know all here, (but that never seems to
stop me :-) )

Be wary of extrapolating specific solutions into general ones.
FDD & HDD are very very much built to a price nowadays and have a truly
limited lifetime (in my experience).
A carriage cable for an inkjet printer can afford to use the absolute
cheapest solution that some designer has carefully worked out will fulfil
the desired design life / reliability trade-off. You can do this too with
enough skill and experience. If you don't have both of these or if your
application demands high reliability then least cost practices may not be
what you want.

Suggested motto

                   "98.9999% reliability - what the customer deserves" :-)



       Russell McMahon

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2002\07\27@134614 by Chris Wheeler

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From: "Brendan Moran" <spam_OUTbmoranTakeThisOuTspamMILLENNIUM.CA>
> Sounds like a good solution, but what would you do in a situation
> using, say, 6 conductors?  AFAIK 6conductor IDC connectors are
> practically unavailable.  Just find some use for the extra 4 wires?

How about RJ-45 or RJ-12 connectors? They come in PC mount types and can be
case mounted or with strain relief. The plugs come in several varieties
including 8 conductor flat.

--
CW

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2002\07\29@104843 by Josh Koffman

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There are some newer locking RJ45 connectors designed for the
entertainment industry. They are made by Neutrik. Check out some data
at: http://www.neutrikusa.com/products/Ethercon/Ethercon.pdf

Josh
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Chris Wheeler wrote:
> How about RJ-45 or RJ-12 connectors? They come in PC mount types and can be
> case mounted or with strain relief. The plugs come in several varieties
> including 8 conductor flat.

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