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Beginners guide - Jumper wires

Updated: Mar 30

Introduction

In order to connect two places to each other without soldering, jumper wires are just cables with connector pins at each end. To make it simple to modify a circuit as needed, jumper wires are commonly used with breadboards and other prototyping equipment.

Although there are many different colors of jumper wires, there is no real significance to the colors. Thus, in theory, a red jumper wire is equivalent to a black one. To distinguish between different kinds of connections, such as power and ground, you may take advantage of the colors.


Types of Jumper wires


Jumper wires come in three versions:

  1. Male-to-male jumper

  2. Male-to-female jumper

  3. Female-to-female jumper


There are two different kinds of head shapes: round and square. The wire's termination determines how each differs from the other. Female ends are also used for plugging; however they do not include a pin that protrudes as male ends do.


A male connection also features a solid pin for center conduction and is called a plug. A female connection, on the other hand, is called a jack and has a center conductor with a hole in it to receive the male pin.


1. Male-to-Male jumper


With the help of the male-to-male breadboard jumper wire, creating your own circuits on a breadboard is simple. These cables have a prototype board connection on both ends, making them versatile. For building circuits between your microcontroller and the breadboard on the bots, the jumper cable is perfect.

2. Male-to-Female jumper


These male-to-female jumper cables are used to join any development board with a female header pin to other development boards with a male connection. These are straightforward cables with connection pins on both ends that enable you to link two locations together.


3. Female-to-Female jumper


These are jumper wires that link the female header pin of an Arduino or other development board to the female pin of another development board. These are basic cables with connector pins on both ends that enable you to connect two places to one another.

Several configurations of jumper wires


Solid Copper Jumpers

The easiest way to connect jumpers between PCB places is with a solid copper wire. In order to bridge short jumper links up to an inch or less, simple copper wire that has been trimmed to size and soldered to pad connections is sufficient. Commonly used solid copper magnet wire has a round or square cross-section. Between 18 and 26 AWG is the thickness range.


Stranded Jumpers

Stranded jumpers create a thicker cable jumper by twisting or braiding many thin copper wire strands together. Stranded wires are flexible, making them easier to place over solder terminals and route through tight spaces. Standard setups use stranded jumper sets between 22 and 30 AWG. The solderability of stranded jumpers is improved by flux-core solder wicking.


Insulated Wire Jumpers

Jumpers with an insulated solid core or stranded copper wire that are jacketed with plastic, rubber, or lacquer coatings guard against unintentional short circuits to adjacent pads or board features when installed in intricate, dense PCB designs. Electrical isolation of the conductive core is achieved by the insulation. Additionally, jumper portions are shielded by heat-shrink tubing. The visual traceability of bespoke jumpers between boards is aided by insulation colors.


Preformed Jumpers

Pre-shaped jumpers are molded into specific forms using nylon or plastic sleeves between the terminals, enabling interference-free insertion directly above components or around obstructions on busy PCB boards. Preformed jumpers enable dependability and versatility across circuit boards by offering precisely specified stand-off heights and bespoke forms that adhere to circuit design.


Ribbon Cable Jumpers

Ribbon cables can be used as jumpers on PCBs to link many signals in parallel. With ease of individual wire access, the flat flexible ribbon design jumper may incorporate bulk wire tracking between connections and cable assemblies arranged easily across PCB portions. Ribbon jumper assemblies are used to connect wire harnesses between boards, keypads, and external low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) displays.


Rigid-Flex PCB Jumpers

Rigid-flex PCBs eliminate wired jumpers by physically integrating different rigid PCB assemblies with flexible PCB extensions with thin copper traces. When folded firmly or shaped, the integrated flex jumpers allow for 3D compaction, which joins multilayer boards internally across devices without the need for external cabling and successfully conducts signals over flat flex bends without distortion.


Advantages of jumper wire


  • Flexibility - Due to their flexibility, jumper wires may be readily bent or routed to fit around obstructions or in confined locations.

  • Versatility - There are many different gauges, colors, and lengths of jumper wires available.

  • Easy to use.

  • Cost-effective and reusable without losing its form after a few uses.


PCB Jumper Wire Applications


Jumper wires meet a variety of connecting needs on different types of PCBs


Prototyping

Jumper wires are widely used in breadboards, which make it easy for designers to temporarily connect components and integrated circuits (ICs) to test circuit designs without the need for finished PCBs. Routine reconfigurations are made easier by solid-core and stranded jumpers with easily customizable lengths, which are useful when designs change during iterative testing prior to PCB manufacture. Ready-made jumper sets make prototyping easier.


Circuit Modifications

Jumper wires are used on current PCBs to reroute signals or avoid certain components while making circuit adjustments or modifications. In order to validate updates, removed links are bridged, or substitute board connections are created. Insulated jumpers guard against short- circuit accidents on increasingly crowded circuit boards. Stranded jumpers manage numerous adjustments as circuitry evolves over several PCB iterations.


Density Constraints

When jumpers shortcut pads are positioned widely apart, lengthy routing via multilayer is avoided when connecting distant terminals across intricate, high-density PCBs, such as GPS receivers. In dense designs, layouts are made simpler using direct fly-over jumper connectors. When bridging small areas, right-angle jumpers make components clear. The right clearances are provided by stand-off spacers.


Shield Jumpers

Coaxial or twisted pair cables serve as shielded jumpers to contain electromagnetic interference (EMI) in solutions that need precise impedance control at high frequencies. In order to prevent noise injection in multi-layer boards, miniature surface mount (SMT) coaxial connections are soldered to nearby ground via. Ferrite beads facilitate the process of isolation.


Programming Headers

Utilizing dual-row male pin headers as programming interfaces, specialized application boards can interface transiently with external electrical modules or cables to update firmware or change settings via serial data connections bridged via female-to-female jumper wires. Pin headers with a right angle save space.


Test Points

Instead of cutting holes in multilayer boards to access nodes that might otherwise be unreachable, onboards without test points can sample internal signals via jumper wires. To non-invasively monitor waveforms for firmware debugging or problem diagnosis, rigid test probe jumpers latch onto solder pads, via, or component leads with security.


PCB Assembly and Circuit Breaker Integration

Efficient integration of jumper wires during PCB assembly is crucial for optimal circuit functionality. It's essential to note that jumper wires serve a different purpose from circuit breakers, which are designed to interrupt electrical currents in case of a fault, ensuring the safety and reliability of electronic systems.


Conclusion

In conclusion, jumper wires play a fundamental role in electronics, offering flexibility, versatility, and ease of use. Whether employed in prototyping, circuit modifications, or addressing density constraints, the right selection of jumper wires is crucial for the success of electronic designs. With various configurations and applications, jumper wires remain a fundamental element in connecting the intricate world of PCBs.


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