(Electronic) Wire-Wrapping


I’m working on my on-again, off-again digital clock project, and one thing I learned before I broke off before is that the number and density of connections made soldering very impractical. So wire-wrapping it was. Some basic points:

  1. Wire-wrapping is spendy. Just getting a batch of sockets, a spool of wire, and an entry-level tool cost me around $100.
  2. Because of that, I can’t consider it worthwhile for less-ambitious (read: less complex) projects.
  3. You’re on your own, basically. There’s no instructions with the tool I ordered. I presume that’s typical for most tools.
  4. There’s an incredible variety of tools and wires out there.

So, with all that, here’s what I’ve learned so far.

Get a Less-Expensive Tool

Unless you’re really going to get into wire-wrapping, don’t get one of those gun tools. The base price is spendy enough, and they’re even more spendy than that! The gun tools (both electric and hand-powered) require both a bit and a collar, and both of those items are costly as well. Expect to spend $200 to $300 or more just to get a tool capable of making connections. Ouch!

Instead, opt for a “screwdriver” type tool. I’d recommend getting one made by a well-known name brand, because you are going to be making hundreds of connections on the typical project, given the size and complexity needed to make wire-wrapping make sense.

Use 30 Gauge Wire

Specifically, 30-gauge, Kynar-insulated, silver-plated wire. It’s basically the standard. (Just to make it interesting, they sometimes call Kynar by other names: PVDF, polyvinylidene fluoride, or polyvinylidene difluoride.)

Get the Right Tool

The tool you need is governed by both the wire gauge and the style of wrapping you’ll do. You already know the gauge; the wrapping style I’d recommend is the “modified” style that involves wrapping about a turn of insulated wire around the terminal posts before the bare wire starts. This provides a degree of strain relief, which minimizes the chance of things breaking while you wire your project.

Taken together, the right tool is the Jonard WSU-30M. It’s not much larger than a small screwdriver and costs over $30. Cheaper than the guns by far, but still, ouch! It’s a name-brand tool, and it’s well-known enough that there’s (incomplete, but still better than no) instructions for using it on the web.

An added plus is that the WSU-30M can remove connections as well as make them, so you don’t have to order a separate removing tool. The latter is a must, as Murphy’s Law says you will sooner or later make a wrong connection.

How to Use the Tool

There’s some instructions here. Alas, they’re missing one of the most important things: how much wire to use to account for wrapping and slack between two terminals. After some frustration, I arrived at the distance plus 7 cm (sorry, I’m not going to convert that to inches; I prefer working in metric because the math is easier).

A Gem of a Quote

As I am wont to do at times, I’m delving into a subject deeply for no apparent reason other than a friend mentioned it and it sparked my interest to read further on it. The subject in this case is the Chilean Revolution of 1970-1973 that was brutally cut short by a US-supported coup d’etat against the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende.

I’m not quite old enough to qualify as “old” yet, but this still resonates with me:

“[T]here is no generation gap–there are young old people and old young people, and I place myself in the latter category.” — Salvador Allende

This comes from a little-known (in the US) speech that Allende gave at a university in Mexico:


Well, THAT Didn’t Last

And really, could anyone doubt that it wouldn’t?

That speech that some foolishly gushed over looked good only in comparison to the general standard of awfulness that Trump has set. If any other president had uttered it, proposals like the Naziesque one to track and publicize immigrant crimes would have inspired the horror and revulsion they deserve.

Trump has done that before: His “I am your voice” acceptance speech was actually far better than his norm, too. He’s given up tweeting before, too. Neither has lasted. The leopard has proven time and time again that he cannot change his spots.