DIY Phoenix VS-PSC style connector (#P12)

Okay okay, “project” is a big word for this. It’s a teeny tiny DIY thing, sparked from MOQ/packaging size worries of a rather unique connector.

In preparation of other things, I wanted access to the data lines of an USB port that is panel mounted. Just tinkerer stuff, you know, seeing if there’s any communication effort happening at all, being able to set current (allowance) sense resistors, you name it. I could have looped all wires to a second/third USB port and made an adapter for it, but that would be a lame one. Instead, I googled for IDC connectors, ideally female to allow easy resistor insertion, which can be panel mounted. Well, there’s not much out there. Those (male) logic analyzer ports on oscilloscopes are all custom jobs, there’s nothing generic available as far as I can tell.

But when widening the search terms, I found this:

Phoenix VS-PSC headers. Available in 3 and 5 pin versions, compatible with the 3.5mm plug system that we use at work all the time (Phoenix MC 1,5 series, Würth WR-TBL 3611 and many others). Sturdy, standard footprint for the panel, both 3 or 5 pins will do. Perfect!

Well, not quite. They ARE nice, no doubt about it – they are angled for PCB mounting, but that wouldn’t stop me from buying them. Glad Phoenix does make them at all. But there’s a little catch for hobbyists: Apparently they sell in such small numbers that a) Phoenix says they are “Made to Order (non-returnable)” (so few shops sell them at all, and some of them are B2B only), b) packaging size is 10 pieces. Some eBay dude sold individual pieces for 7,50€ a pop (all gone, though), Mouser does sell them for 6,20€ but I ain’t ordering from Mouser for 6,20€. That’s harsh for a 5 pin connector.

Just buy a pack of ten, right? Well, that’s still 25 bucks upfront cost for a single connector plus some hassle to sell the others. I’ve been selling so much crap recently, I’m fed up with it.

So what about making something similar on my own…

Grab a five pin straight header, grab a hot snot gun, grab a spare D-Sub DA-15 casing and knock out the male/female connector that is sitting inside it. DA-15 is the large standard density brother of the DE-9 RS-232 serial connector (often called DB-9, which apparently is wrong, as the DB case size is 25 pins for parallel/IEEE 1284 ports). Think of game ports on ancient sound cards, a neat reason to finally disassemble them and trash the rest.

Sit the connector on a flat surface that doesn’t bond well to hot glue. Fill that thing up, not to the brim, but close to it. After a little bit of cooling down, grab it and check orientation of the pin header that is floating around. Correct and reheat with a hot air gun, if necessary. After it is completely cooled down, remove any excess glue from the front.

And voilà: The DIY VS-PSC connector :mrgreen:

A DE-9 case would fit 4 pins with the edges of the header trimmed off, but that looks a bit odd in an otherwise professional front plate. So I went for the DA-15 and 5 pins for power lines, data lines, and the ID pin of mini and micro connectors. You could probably fit 6 pin headers in that as well – or go to DB-25, DC-37 or even DD-50 cases and throw in a LOT more contacts.

Relatively slim form factor and enough pin length exposed to solder some wires to it.

I used the case this way round as I’m a tad more concerned pressing the entire assembly in than ripping it out. Still, that high temperature hotmelt glue (the good 200°C stuff) shouldn’t come apart at all.

And that’s it, DIY VS-PSC with custom pin count option for less than one Euro at minimum build quantity 1 (one) piece. Next custom connector(s) incoming ;)

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