Cost: $5 – $25
Time: ~10 mins.
Tools Required: Sharp knife, soldering iron, pliers, wire strippers, wire cutters, crimping tool (optional)
Parts Needed: Servo pins, servo casings, servo wire (optional)
Difficulty Level: Easy
Why would you want to know how crimp servo plugs?
Believe it or not, there are a few reasons. First, some people like to tidy up their wires or servo leads and trim away any excess wire. Not only does it look prettier, but it saves a bit of weight as well.
You can also make custom servo extensions for flight or bench testing to any length you’d like for cheaper than a trip to the hobby store.
And, if your lead wires or plugs become damaged or ever need to be replaced, there’s a good chance you might need to replace the servo’s plugs.
Whatever the reason, it’s a good skill to have and something that will come in handy in your RC helicopter experiences.
Servo pins, casings and a crimping tool can be found at local hobby stores, online from sites like www.ServoCity.com or www.eBay.com. You can often pick up the entire package (pins, casings, crimping tool) for around $25 of so.
If you don’t want to spend the $15 on the crimping tool, you can do it by hand using a pair of pliers.
Though I’d recommend picking one up – it’s a good investment, will save you a lot of time and has other crimping uses as well.
If you’re feeling a little lost or need a bit of help crimping your servo plugs, that’s the reason for this ‘how to’ article.
I thought it would be easy the first time I did it, but without any previous experience and the lack of instructions included with the crimping tool, it took a few tries and a little practice to get it perfect.
Before we get anymore into the thick of it, you can use servo crimping skills to crimp more than just servo leads. They can also be used for gyro, ESC and battery leads as well.
Here’s how to properly crimp servo plugs, from start to finish:
Cut the servo lead wire to the desired length 90 degrees to the cable. If you want to lengthen it, you can either take the servo apart and solder it directly to the circuit board (recommended only if experienced solderer) or simply solder it to the existing lead wire and cover solder joints with heatshrink tubing. If you’re going to solder to the existing wire, stager the solder joints so they’re not all in the same spot.
(Cut to desired lenght)
In this example, I’m just using a spare servo, so I simply cut the old end off to replace it.
Using your knife, slice apart the three wire strands about an inch from the end or the wire and separate them.
Strip the about an ¼ of an inch of the casing off the end of the wires using wire stripers (It’s important to make sure that you strip the same amount off each wire.). Twist the strands in each of the three ends together so there aren’t any strays.
(Ends of wires stripped)
Tin, or apply solder to the ends of the wires. The reason for doing this is because it keeps the strands together and makes it easier to solder the wire directly to the plug later on.
(Solder applied to wire tips)
Line up the soldered ends of the wires and cut the ends off to leave about 1/8th of an inch of exposed / tinned wire.
(Soldered tips cut to length)
This is the most tricky step of the whole process.
Take note how the pins slide into the casing and place the servo wire into the servo pin. The wire casing should end at the first crimping tag and the exposed wire should fit into the second crimping tag.
If you’re using a crimping tool, place the whole thing (servo pin, and wire) into the crimping tool and squeeze.
If you’re using pliers, squeeze the crimping tags around the wire casing and the other crimping tag around the exposed wire.
Hint: If you’re having trouble getting the wire to stay in the servo pin, you can squeeze the crimping tags a little with your fingers prior to crimping it.
(First servo pin installed)
Do the same thing with the other 2 pins.
Step 7 – Optional
Very carefully using a low wattage soldeing iron, heat up the servo pins one at a time while applying solder to join the exposed, tinned wire to the pin permanetly.
This isn’t absolutely necessary, though strongly recommended. Soldering the wire to the pin is good for two reasons. First, it means you’ll always have a solid connection and second, it makes it impossible to accidentially pull the wire out of the servo pin.
Tip: Use as little solder as possible and don’t apply too much heat or you’ll melt the wire casing.
(All servo pins installed)
That’s it. Just apply the servo casing and you’re finished.
Just make sure you push the pins in all the way until they click – then give them a gentle tug to make sure they’re not coming out.
You might need to shape the pins a little with pliers to get them to fit in smoothly into the servo casing.
(Casing applied – finished product)
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