Jetson TK1 Connector Part 3 – Solder IDC Headers

Next step up in the Jetson TK1 Connector Board build is to solder in the IDC connector. Looky here:

In the video, a TE Connectivity/AMP 103308-8 IDC connector (available from Mouser) is used.

Note: The holes for the connector are made to fit with a TE Connectivity/AMP 103308-8 (available from Mouser). I found that the holes in the PCB are a little small for some other connectors that I experimented with. Pro tip: Use the recommended part.

Information and Background

In Part 1 and Part 2 we soldered in the 2.0mm header to the Jetson TK1 Connector Board. In this third article, we add a 40 pin Insulation Displacement Connector (IDC) header.

If you’ve ever opened up a PC, or worked with a Raspberry Pi, you’ve probably have encountered a ribbon cable connector. Here’s an explanation from Wikipedia:

An insulation-displacement contact (IDC), also known as insulation-piercing contact (IPC), is an electrical connector designed to be connected to the conductor(s) of an insulated cable by a connection process which forces a selectively sharpened blade or blades through the insulation, bypassing the need to strip the conductors of insulation before connecting. When properly made, the connector blade cold-welds to the conductor, making a theoretically reliable gas-tight connection.

You can understand why this type of connection is popular. Basically you cut the length of ribbon cable needed, press connectors on each end, and you’re good to go. Usually the ribbon connector contains less than 50 wires. Compare this with stripping and connecting that many wires individually, and you can see the time savings. For the Jetson TK1 Connector Board, a 2×20 40 pin connector was selected. One of the other advantages is that the 2.54mm IDC connector spacing allows connection with standard prototyping jumper wire which makes interfacing with prototyping boards easy. So even if you don’t take advantage of the ribbon cables, it’s still more convenient than dealing with the Jetsons 2.0mm J3 headers for prototyping.

Cables and Connectors

Prototyping Helpers

1) A soldering iron, in the video a Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station was used. The tip of the soldering iron used is the one included with the product.
2) Solder, in the video 60/40 lead free solder was used.
Note: For the lead free solder, the iron was set at 750 degrees fahrenheit.
Note: A fan or fume extractor (such as the Hakko FA400-04 Bench Top ESD-Safe Smoke Absorber) should be used to avoid breathing soldering fumes.


So there you have it. The Jetson TK1 Connector Board is a pretty simple way to easily get the signals out of the Jetson J3 headers into your projects. Check it out.

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