Making Pin Jumpers

Here are the steps for making your own pin jumpers for connecting large components (switches, speakers) to a solderless breadboard. The job requires soldering and, because the parts are small, this is not a task for those new to the art.

You’ll need:

Refer to Figure 1 as you go through the steps.

[Figure 1]

  1. Cut the wire to the desired length for the jumper, and strip off about 1/4" of the insulation off the ends. The length is however long you want to make the jumper. Make several different lengths for variety.
  2. Gently twist the strands of wire into a tight braid.
  3. With your soldering pencil, tin the exposed ends of the wire. Tinning involves getting the wire hot, then touching the solder to it. Enough solder should flow around the wire to completely coat it. Avoid getting too much solder on the wire such that it forms a "dollop" or lump.
  4. With the header strip held in a soldering vise or third hand, tin the short end of the last pin in the strip.
  5. Align the wire against the pin, and touch the tip of the soldering pencil to both of them at the same time. The solder previously tinned onto the parts will reflow, making a joint. Quickly remove the soldering pencil and let cool.
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 for the remaining wires, then do it all over again for the pins on the opposite ends of the wires.
  7. Cut the heat shrink tubing into 1/2" lengths. Insert the tubing over the end of the wire, leaving the pin exposed. With 1/8" tubing it should fit snugly around the plastic of the strip.
  8. Hold a heat gun or hair dryer set to high an inch or two away from the tubing, and apply heat until the tubing starts to curl. The tubing should constrict around the soldered joint. Slowly rotate the wire so that all of the tubing is equally shrunk. (In a pinch, you can use a disposable lighter; carefully waft the flame an inch or so away from the tubing.)
  9. Break off the header pins to make separate jumper wires.