Unobtanium: Obtained!

Despite our DIY ethos, there are many things we just can’t build ourselves. Subtract one from that list, because a formerly-unavailable component is now available in the US.

Pictured at left are the ubiquitous female jumper wires, used by experimenters everywhere. They come from China, via a number of suppliers. But if you want a different length or just to DIY for the principle of it, you’re out of luck. You could buy the pins and salvage the housings from PC case wiring, but that’s hardly a reliable source, especially for the useful single-pin housings.

The housings are available from all the usual suspects, except the single-pin version, which wasn’t available anywhere. Until now, that is! The story of how that happened is a bit more straightforward than you may think, and the details are after the jump.

The crimp pins themselves (plated in tin or gold) are trivially available, as are the multi-pin housings from 2 to 12 positions. (And the lab here at i3 has oodles of each.) But while the single-pin housings are a valid part number, they weren’t stocked by any North American distributors. Back in July, I emailed the manufacturer and was told “This part is not a stocked part because there is no demand.” I beg to differ!

After emailing Mouser and inquiring about the chances of them stocking the part, I got a call from an account rep. They’d be happy to order this from the manufacturer, I was told, for a minimum order quantity of 1,000 pieces. Okay, what’s the price per unit? 1.8 cents, meaning $18 for the whole thousand. That’s awfully reasonable! Lead time was a few months, but I can wait. I placed the order…

Last week, the order arrived, and here’s the interesting thing: The single-pin housings now have a part number on Apparently they ordered 10,000 from Harwin, because 9,000 are in stock now, and you can order your own, 1,000 at a time, and they’ll ship immediately. (But there’s no need if you’re local to Ferndale, as we now have a drawer full!)

The moral of the story? Next time you need something, just ask!