PressFit Connectors

PressFit are reliable connections without the need of soldering. Here is an easy way to do it.

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Normally a press-fit connector has special pins that bite into the metal plating of PCB through holes to guarantee a solid electrical connection.
Regular straight pin headers can be used in a similar way, when a special hole pattern is used. By offsetting every second hole by about 1/4 or 1/3 of the hole diameter, the pin header is held in place and makes contact with every single pin.
This technique can be used for all connections that are not permanent or not required for the final board, like JTAG, programming or debug headers.
I did not come up with this idea (unfortunately), I just have seen this twice recently and found it genius enough to share.
Shown in the pictures is the JTAG programming header on the Digilent C-MOD C2 board from 2004(!) and the other was the McThings Gateway (no picture of the PCB available).

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l-hassencamp wrote 10/07/2017 at 13:51 point

This is for "through connected" holes only. Obviously. To use it for removable plugs it should be soldered on at least two points, this way it could be removed later or permanent fixed.

Regular straight pin headers can be used in a similar way, with NO special hole pattern if each second pin is bent slightly in a different direction. You should re-bend the tips to put it into the holes. Works only well with single row. Check each connection anyway.

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Eric Hertz wrote 03/31/2017 at 12:04 point

Hah! I saw this on a board once and thought they did it so it would be hard to find a mating connector. Now I get it!

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Łukasz Przeniosło wrote 01/08/2017 at 11:14 point

I wounder if 2 row header (ie. 2x5) would get away with this as well

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MagicWolfi wrote 01/08/2017 at 12:16 point

I would guess not, as 2 row connectors are much stiffer. But you can try 2 piece of single row connectors side by side, eventually taking off some of the body material between them where they might touch

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Arduino Enigma wrote 11/03/2015 at 02:29 point

Sparkfun used this technique to ensure headers go vertically into the PCB

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MagicWolfi wrote 11/03/2015 at 04:53 point

Thanks. This is awesome! So much more detail than my little writeup. There is even the Digilent CMOD board mentioned in the comments. I am going to "steal" this link and add it to the external links section. 

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Alex Rich wrote 11/03/2015 at 01:50 point

great idea, I would still solder but this is a great way to hold the header while soldering.  you could get away with just staggering the 1st, 2nd, last and 2nd to last pins.

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MagicWolfi wrote 11/03/2015 at 03:54 point

I agree for permanent connectors, not much force is needed to slide the pin header out off the holes and soldering is highly recommended. This footprint is only intended for connections that are temporarily, like programming a uC and remove the header after the code is final (if that ever happens ;-)

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Jack Laidlaw wrote 11/03/2015 at 01:45 point

Thank you for sharing, this seems like a great idea for non permanent headers. I was wondering though do you have trouble lining up the pins on the other side?

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MagicWolfi wrote 11/03/2015 at 02:26 point

Thanks for the feedback, glad you like the idea. As long as the cone-shaped part of the pins (visible in the 2nd picture) fit into the holes before pressing them in, it is very easy to line them up. I just programmed 5 of the CMOD boards without any connection issues.

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Jack Laidlaw wrote 11/03/2015 at 03:55 point

Cool I think I will be "stealing" this idea for future projects.

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DeepSOIC wrote 11/02/2015 at 17:13 point

Thanks for sharing =)

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