Ribbon 10pin-to-16pin DIY cable

sharpIf you are into eurorack, this one is a must. Every device works better with power supplied. If you buy robbon power supply cables, the cost varies from 2 to 6 dollars. They are very easy to make, so… hammertime! (…and yes, I know the ribbon on the photo above is in the opposite direction šŸ™‚ )


The materials and tools

For one, standard 250 mm cable we will need:

  • ~270 mm of ribbon cable (10 or more cores (wires),Ā 28 AWG (0,09 mm2); 1,27 mm raster), about 20 mm more then you need, around 0,5$ per meter,
  • 16 pin IDC connector (plug; IDC; female; PIN:10; IDC; for ribbon cable; 1.27 mm; contact pitch: 2,54 mm),Ā around ~0,1$ for Connfly,
  • 10 pin IDC connector (plug; IDC; female; PIN:16; IDC; for ribbon cable; 1.27 mm; contact pitch: 2,54 mm),Ā aroundĀ ~0,2$Ā for Connfly,
  • sharp scissors and hammer (simplest multimeter for testing would be also great).


The “build”

The first thing is to cut the cable – simple scissors will work, just cut it straight. For 250 mm length cut about 270 mm – 20 mm more. Of course you can make the length you need, for example short 150 mm for skiff type case (then cut 170 mm of cable). Seperate 10 cores with the red stripe if you have wider ribbon.

Ribbon cable seperation – keep the one with red stripe!

IDC connectors have 3 parts: bottom (with contacts) [1], top (just a piece of plastic with ribbon cable outline) [2] and a cable holder “frame” [3]. It happened to me once that the “holder” was sold separately, but it is rather uncommon.

IDC10 (left) and IDC16 (right) plug disassembled into 3 parts – with numbers!

Somewhere on the [1] part you should notice a small triangle or arrow – it tells you where red stripe should go. It can be also considered as PIN1 of the plug.

Triangle markĀ on the IDC16 indicating PIN1

So we have 2 connectors (IDC10, IDC16) and a 10 core ribbon cable. The work is 90% done.

Ribbon cable and 2 IDCs

Now, take the IDC10 part [1] and [2] (they can be already joined together as you buy them) and put ribbon between. Red stripe should be close to the triangle sign on your plug, like this:

IDC10 with ribbon cable – not connected yet

Now the hammer magic happens. Some other DIYers use vise or special pliers for this, but everybody have a hammer. Hammer is good for everything! Put the hammer on the top of the plug, like this:


Then push! Do not hit with the hammer, just use your bodyweight!


The idea with hammer is to distribute force evenly, it also ensures that top and bottom parts will be placed parallel.

Closed IDC10 plug

The contact was made. The metal core inside the “red stripe” wire is now touching the sockets PIN1. Next is connected to PIN2 etc. We can now make the same on the other side of the ribbon with the IDC16.

IDC16 plug opened, no contact with metal wire. White triangle points to PIN1.

PIN1 mark is now under the ribbon, the picture above shows it quite clear.Ā Now take a hammer and close it.Ā Of course 6 pins (11 to 16) will be left unconnected. We have 16 pinĀ plugĀ and only 10 wire cable :/

IDC16 closed, contact!

We’re almost done, the last step is to secure the connection. No tools are needed, just hard fingers. I’ve started with IDC10.

Securing the IDC10 ribbon

Make a small loop and put the “cable holder” [3]. Push it hard till you feel click. Do the same with IDC16 on the other side. Beware, the securing holders are very hard to disconnect from the rest of the plug – just assume, you have only one shot to do this step correctly.

IDC10 plug with cable secured

Our cable now looks like this. Our job is almost done!

Almost finished cable. IDC10 on the left, IDC16 on the right. White triangles indicates the PIN1 on both plugs.

You have made a 0,5 dollar ribbon cable and now can burn a 500 dollar eurorack module! Make some measurements as fast as possible!Ā  In theory,Ā  there is not a lot of place for mistakes, but still…

Pins in your vanilla cable

As you noticed, PIN1 of IDC10 should be connected with PIN1 in IDC16 and so long. Get the multimeter, set to continuity test and make your measurements.

Measurement with cheap meter. Resistance of the single 270 mm core is 0,3 ohm – the connection is ok, the buzzer makes “piiiii”.

Congratulations! You have made a 10-to-16 pin ribbon cable for eurorack module power supply connection! Hope it will work for at least 30 years šŸ™‚



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