Author Topic: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?  (Read 632 times)

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Offline joesventek

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Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« on: Thu, 14 June 2018, 05:58:33 »
I'm looking for a way to secure TRRS and USB ports for my next custom build. This is kind of a pain point since the board will be handwired.

With my last handwired build I just glued the USB port in place with a lot of hot glue and cut the excess glue I did not need:



This works but looks ugly and everytime I connect or disconnect the USB cable I fear breaking something.

So I'm looking for ideas what other possibilities there are to secure the jacks without a PCB?

Here's what I found out so far:


Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 14 June 2018, 06:28:43 »
sugru is great stuff, think of it like plasticene that sticks to pretty much anything and dries into hard rubber.  You have to keep your hands clean when working with the white though.
                               
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Offline joesventek

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 14 June 2018, 06:56:53 »
Interesting idea. Personally I've never used Sugru. Do you have any experience with it? Will it permanently stick to a steel plate?

I already thought about using epoxy. But Sugru sounds like the better idea since it seems to stay flexible when it is cured.

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 14 June 2018, 07:33:40 »
Yes I've used it in lots of places including holding power connectors and hard drives in a Rasperry Pi box (I think that was steel), covering a macropad which is built out of hot glue (pic below) and on the end of a hanger which hangs from my curtain rail to hold the curtain against the wall.  It's not quite permanent as you can peel or cut it off but if you aren't trying to remove it it's not going anywhere.



As you can see it can be made smooth but it's hard to keep big areas level and impossible to add a patch, but for covering a small gap like round that USB port it would be perfect.  It is flexible if you keep it thin but not once it's half a cm thick it's pretty solid.

The only downside is the packs are a bit big for that small hole so you'll waste a lot.  Much cleaner and easier to use than any epoxy I've seen!
                               
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Offline sinusoid

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 14 June 2018, 12:15:34 »
Polycaprolactone is good for small structural things that undergo mechanical stress.

It has a low melting point (60 deg Celsius), but is virtually indestructible, and has great adhesion. It's also reversible, just heat it up to remove, fix, or reshape.

Translucent white under normal circumstances, you can use pigments to change it's color to desired one.

Check its wikipedia article for brands it's sold under if you can't find it.

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 15 June 2018, 02:57:43 »
^ I've used that too, sold as Polymorph :)  It would work and look better than the hot glue and the ability to change it later is great but not sure how it would react when attached to a big steel plate which I fear would steal all it's heat.  It's also easy to burn it while reheating with a blue flame lighter so have a play away from your board  first if you go this route :))
                               
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Offline joesventek

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 15 June 2018, 03:16:05 »
That's the first time I here about Polycaprolactone. Looks really interesting.

I like both recommendations of Sugru and Polycaprolactone. I'm still not sure if either will adhere well enough to a steel plate though. I guess I have to try both to figure it out.

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 15 June 2018, 03:19:09 »
I'll give polymorph a try now :thumb:
                               
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Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 15 June 2018, 03:47:35 »
As suspected I couldn't get it to stick to a steel plate, feel free to read around as it might be possible if the plate is pre-warmed but mine has switches and a PCB attached so I'm not trying it.



I have no doubt Sugru will do the job.
                               
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Offline joesventek

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 15 June 2018, 03:59:30 »
Wow. Thanks for the quick test! I was about to order some Polymorph and Sugru to do my own testing. I think I can skip the Polymorph for now.

You don't happen to have any spare Sugru at hand to test it as well? ;D

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 15 June 2018, 04:07:56 »
The trouble with Sugru is it comes in an airtight packet, once opened you have maybe 15 minutes to put it where you want before it starts to cure.  I'm not willing to waste a pack when I'm 99% sure it will work :thumb:
                               
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Offline joesventek

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 15 June 2018, 04:18:56 »
No worries! I'll order some Sugru and conduct my own testing. Thanks again for testing the Polycaprolactone :thumb:

Offline Findecanor

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 15 June 2018, 05:06:04 »
You can buy jacks on small PCBs. There are lots of them on eBay, intended for DIY projects such as this and they are inexpensive. (or were, here in Sweden before Chinese packages got taxed). Some are tiny. Others have screw holes for easier mounting.
If wider than the jack and the jack's hole then that will prevent the circuit board and socket to be pulled out when you yank on the cord.
Then you could build walls around the PCBs on the inside to keep it in place and preventing it from being pushed inwards.
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Offline sinusoid

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 15 June 2018, 05:43:34 »
Sugru will adhere, because it's basically a neutral RTV condensation silicone with a filler that gives it it's thickness. Probably ceramic. I remember seeing its spec sheet once, or maybe they had it in the patent, I don't remember now. Anyway, it's basically the same thing as caulking silicone you use in your bathroom, but without corrosive chemistry.

I don't use it, since I think it's extremely expensive for what it's supposed to do. Compare prices of 1kg of Sugru with 1kg of pure platinum-cure, like DragonSkin. It looks like someone got a bit crazy on the price margins.

@suicidal_orange
I recommend avoiding heating up stuff with open flame. Open flame is heavily oxidizing, and you have no temperature control over the process.
I usually use a hotair or a heatgun with regulated temperature, assess the elements I'm heating if there are no additions that could get damaged at low temperature, and use around 150-200 degrees Celsius - that's the temperature most plastics can withstand from a heatgun without melting or deforming.

Target element will always have lower temperature than your setting due to heat dispersal and conductivity, also the heat gun pulls in a lot of the ambient air into the flow, lowering the temperature a few centimeters outside of the nozzle.

AFAIR PCL should stick to steel/alu, you just have to heat it up to a higher temperature, and wipe the steel with some acetone to remove oils. You can preheat it to 50-60 derees Celsius too.

edit:typo
« Last Edit: Fri, 15 June 2018, 05:45:27 by sinusoid »

Offline joesventek

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 15 June 2018, 07:13:25 »
You can buy jacks on small PCBs. There are lots of them on eBay, intended for DIY projects such as this and they are inexpensive. (or were, here in Sweden before Chinese packages got taxed). Some are tiny. Others have screw holes for easier mounting.
If wider than the jack and the jack's hole then that will prevent the circuit board and socket to be pulled out when you yank on the cord.
Then you could build walls around the PCBs on the inside to keep it in place and preventing it from being pushed inwards.

Hmm. Actually I think that's the way to go. I'm sure I thought of this with my first build but dismissed it for some reason. I can't remember why though. Shouldn't be too hard to make DIY breakout boards from perfboard for jacks you can't get with PCB.

Of course one will need additional holes in the plate, screws and washers.

Something like this should work just fine: https://www.pololu.com/product/2586
Also I don't see a reason not to use USB for the interconnect of the halves as well. I don't know why I was so focused on using TRRS for this.

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #15 on: Sat, 16 June 2018, 03:21:42 »
@sinusoid - thanks for the lesson, I knew 'burning' was bad but not the science behind it.  A heat gun costs lots (compared to a lighter) and it's not something I'll use often enough to warrant to buying and storing and besides, fire is fun :))  I will play with ~90*C Polymorph and acetone later...

Sugru is expensive and the premium packaging doesn't help but thankfully you don't buy a kilo and they have special offers constantly so it's not as bad as it looks.

@joesventek why not both - screw it down and add a pretty surround :thumb:
                               
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Online Leslieann

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #16 on: Sat, 16 June 2018, 20:09:10 »
Look up "panel mount mini usb', should be what you want, though I would consider USB micro or usb type C if you can. Micro is more durable than mini as it was designed for stressful situations, same for type C.

Otherwise Sugru would work, since it won't adhere, you need a flange on both sides of the panel. Another option is something we use on 3d printers called an ABS slurry (can also use acrylic), mix some abs plastic (trust me, you have some around the house) in a jar with some acetone and it will disolve into a sludge. Brush it on in thin layers and you essentially 3d painted a part. A faster method would be to actually 3d print a part. All are a bit overkill though compared to Sugru or hot glue (which works better if you pre-warm the metal).
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Offline Findecanor

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #17 on: Sun, 17 June 2018, 06:48:39 »
Be very careful so that you don't spill any ABS slurry. Emphasis on thin layers.

ABS slurry is the best when you want to permanently bond/fill gaps between ABS and ABS, especially when you want to make sure that it is the same colour and have other properties. Otherwise I would recommend a slow-curing epoxy or good quality epoxy putty.

Another option is something we use on 3d printers called an ABS slurry (can also use acrylic), mix some abs plastic (trust me, you have some around the house) in a jar with some acetone and it will disolve into a sludge.
Acrylic? Are you sure? I have not been able to dissolve acrylic with acetone.

I suspect that maybe polycarbonate might work but I don't have any pure PC around that I know of.
I have been able to dissolve PC-ABS (polycarbonate-ABS blend) in acetone but then the PC in that would be microscopic particles anyway, I suppose.
« Last Edit: Sun, 17 June 2018, 06:55:56 by Findecanor »
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Offline Nlight

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #18 on: Sun, 17 June 2018, 16:15:43 »
Why not just go for a tiny micro USB -> USB cable, where half of the cable is inside connected to the controller, and the other half out of the keyboard : at the entry point of the cable into the keyboard, you fit in  a printed ABS jaw mechansim (collar, or press) that work with M2/M3 screws. It is solid, easily replaceable, and far more gentle on the USB connection.

If you own a 3D printer, it is darn cheap, if not, well I dunno how much it would cost you.

Online Leslieann

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #19 on: Sun, 17 June 2018, 17:20:37 »
Acrylic? Are you sure? I have not been able to dissolve acrylic with acetone.
It doesn't dissolve as easy as ABS and there are different formulations for acrylic, but it's what is used to build aquariums, the acetone melts the acrylic, bonding the seams together.

Also, check your acetone, if you're using fingernail polish remover, a lot of that is not actually acetone.
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Offline Findecanor

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #20 on: Sun, 17 June 2018, 17:50:28 »
It doesn't dissolve as easy as ABS and there are different formulations for acrylic, but it's what is used to build aquariums, the acetone melts the acrylic, bonding the seams together.
All right! The people I know who used to work with bonding acrylic used MEK.

Also, check your acetone, if you're using fingernail polish remover, a lot of that is not actually acetone.
Oh no, I use too much acetone for nail polish remover to be cost effective and space-effective. I get one-litre bottles. Acetone evaporates out of even the tightest jars of ABS slush so it needs to be topped up now and then when I'm working with it.
Nail polish removers are often blends of different chemicals, which I don't want. Other times it can be ethylacetate or butylacetate. Humbro Poly Cement, which I use to bond plastic is mostly butylacetate, the liquid variety is possibly pure and I find that to actually dissolve ABS better than acetone does.
"Normal is the greatest enemy in regard to creating the new. To get around this you have to understand normal not as reality but as just a construct." -- Alan Kay
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Online Leslieann

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #21 on: Sun, 17 June 2018, 18:43:07 »
All right! The people I know who used to work with bonding acrylic used MEK.

Beware MEK.
I saw and heard some stuff about it in the military, but I'm not qualified to say how accurate or true all of it is. I will say that  if the public safety info was accurate, the military was over-reacting regarding safety with how we handled it, which the military can be prone to do. That said, the people I know who work with chemicals and are qualified to say how accurate the safety of it is, all seem hesitant to work with it, saying the health hazards of it are under rated.

I keep wondering if it will be the next asbestos, yes, that level of bad. Though C8 (? was used in Teflon) may beat it to the punch.
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Offline xack

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Re: Ways to secure jacks (USB, TRRS, ...) in a handwired build?
« Reply #22 on: Mon, 18 June 2018, 07:44:31 »
You can get USB-Breakout boards quiet cheep. These usually come with mounting holes, so you can simply screw them in place ;)