All About Plugs and Connectors (DIY Edition)

All About Plugs and Connectors (DIY Edition)

We often get questions about the plugs and connectors we use in our products.  This article, which is expected to grow over time, is an attempt to share as much information as possible about the connectors we and other companies use.  It is intended for a DIY/technical reader who is interested in creating their own connections to or with the ecosystem of Brickstuff and related connectors.

If you have a question about a plug or connector that is not listed here, please let us know and we'll add it!  Our goal is to create as many integrations as possible with our system, so you can use as many of your existing components with Brickstuff parts as possible.

Connectors Used in Brickstuff Products

Historically, our products used two sizes of connectors, both from the Japanese company JST (Japan Standard Connector):

  1. Large Connectors: 1.0mm pitch spacing plugs from the JST-SH line of products.  Specifically, we used the 2-pin and 3-pin versions of these plugs.  You can download the datasheet for all parts in this range via this link.  We used both the top-entry type and the side-entry type of plug on our boards.  The specific part numbers are:
    1. Top-entry, 2-pin: BM02B-SRSS-TB
    2. Side-entry, 2-pin: SM02B-SRSS-TB
    3. Top-entry, 3-pin: BM03B-SRSS-TB
    4. Side-entry, 3-pin: SM03B-SRSS-TB
  2. Small Connectors: 0.8mm pitch spacing plugs from the JST-SUR line of products.  Specifically, we use the 2-pin, 3-pin, and 4-pin version of these plugs.  You can download the datasheet for all parts in this range via this link.  We use both the top-entry type and the side-entry type of plug on our boards.  The specific part numbers are:
    1. Top-entry, 2-pin: BM02B-SURS-TF
    2. Side-entry, 2-pin: SM02B-SURS-TF
    3. Top-entry, 3-pin: BM03B-SURS-TF
    4. Side-entry, 3-pin: SM03B-SURS-TF
    5. Top-entry, 4-pin: BM04B-SURS-TF
    6. Side-entry, 4-pin: SM04B-SURS-TF
These connectors can be purchased from a number of online vendors including DigiKey, Mouser, and Newark.  Just search for the part numbers listed above.

Important Notes about JST Connectors

Because of their small size and pitch, these connectors must be soldered to a circuit board.  They cannot be attached to a wire directly-- one question we often get is, "why can't you make extension cables with a male plug on one end and a female plug on the other?"  This is the reason: these are "wire-to-board" connectors.  Customers needing to extend their wires can choose from our wide selection of adapter boards.

Another important note about these connectors: their mating plugs (the "female" in the pair) require specialized equipment to manufacture.  The tools and jigs for these assemblies are sold directly by the manufacturer, and the cost for a single tool (which works with a single part number above) is in the thousands or, in some cases, even the tens of thousands of dollars.  For this reason, it is not typically possible for customers to make their own cables.  We buy our cables in batches of 2,000 or more, and they come to us pre-crimped and pre-assembled (the specialty cable manufacturers have the high-cost presses and tools required to crimp and set wires into the female plug assemblies).  Companies like TLC Electronics in Minnesota, USA, do offer pre-assembled and custom cable harness assembly.

Customers seeking to make their own boards and assemblies can purchase our DIY cables (we have these for both large and small 2-wire connectors).  We also sell the wire we use in bulk in our DIY section.  Customers looking to make their own cables for 3- or 4-pin connectors can purchase 3- or 4-wire connecting cables from our website and cut them in half.  Occasionally, Amazon or especially eBay will sell pre-assembled connector assemblies (usually with a connector on one end and a bare or tinned wire on the other).  Use search terms like "4P JST 1.0" to find the listings for 4-wire 1.0mm wire assemblies, or a term like "2P JST 0.8" to find listings for 2-wire 0.8mm assemblies.

Note that when purchasing assemblies from Amazon, eBay, or a similar site, the color of the wires in the assemblies you receive may not match the colors used in Brickstuff cables.  Be especially careful when connecting power and ground-- you can damage or destroy a circuit board or lights if you connect power with a reversed polarity.

Using a combination of purchasing connectors from the vendors linked above, purchasing DIY cables from us, and purchasing bulk wire from us, customers can splice their own connecting or custom cables or almost any length, and they can incorporate the plugs we use in our boards into custom PCB designs.

Non-Brickstuff Connectors

More on this in a future update.