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2016/04/27

Raspberry Pi GPIO Connectors

If you're doing some "physical computing" with a Raspberry Pi, you generally need to make connections from the RasPi's GPIO connector to a breadboard.

This can be a hassle because the RasPi uses a male header connector for its GPIO, so you can't just plug wires into it like you can on, say, an Arduino. Various breakout connectors are sold for this purpose, but why buy what you can recycle?

I use the ends of audio and USB cables salvaged from old PCs. Your school or company IT guy probably has a number of these gathering dust.

Some generic PC cases are equipped with cables whose leads were individually terminated so you could plug them into a variety of different types of motherboard connecters. These were typically used to connect front panel audio and USB ports to the main board.


Audio cable salvaged from a junked generic PC case.

Apparently some PC motherboards have non-standard audio and/or USB connectors and this type of cable enables the system builder to accommodate any board by plugging the wires in individually.

The individual connectors generally branch off from a "standard" motherboard plug. I never encountered a board that required them, so I always snipped them off, winding up with six or eight loose wires about six inches long with a one-pin plug on one end.


It's the short bits with the individual connectors on them that we want.

The cables are made of stranded wire, which is impossible to plug into a breadboard, so I solder a short piece of solid wire to the ends of them to make a crude connector plug. A scrap of twisted-pair network cable is a good source of solid wire.


Solder short lengths of solid wire to the ends of them like so...


There you go. Plug away. They're even colour-coded.

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