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How to get/make connectors for exotic proprietary formats?
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How to get/make connectors for exotic proprietary formats?

by terriea on Wed Nov 24, 2010 5:14 pm

Hi Adafruit,

I saw you are using snes connectors for the Fuzebox. From the forum history seems you are constantly chasing for these part with various dealers, and I heard in an ask an engineer episode that you are have them custom made.

I will face similar problem with the project I want to make. I want to create a multi-console game controller, and for this I need various connectors to be able to connect in various classic consoles (playstation, dreamcast, gamecube, neo-geo,...). Problem is really don't have a clue on where to search for these parts. I know it's still possible to buy existing extention cords or controllers on ebay, and cut them off to get the parts. But it's quite expensive for a single connector and a huge waste of plastic. I would be much better to get actual connectors.

Where do you search for these parts? Are there catalogs or it require some mass e-mailing to each dealer to get an answer?

In case you have them custom made, what is the procedure to have these kind of parts custom made? Are there CM that can can produce parts from CAD files, a bit like some do for PCBS?
what are the approximative cost? I guess it require first the production of a mold and before actual production of pieces.
Are there any pattent problem when producing a compatible connector with a propriatary one?

Any information on the subject would be greatly apreciated.

Thanks !
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Re: How to get/make connectors for exotic proprietary formats?

by chatham on Thu Nov 25, 2010 2:00 pm

I've kinda had the same problem with my guitar controllers. For me, it wound up being just a lot of internet searching for Wiimote extension cables. It's certainly going to be harder to get cables for older systems, but for something like gamecube, I would venture to say that there's probably some company in China with an internet presence out there willing to sell them to you in bulk for a dollar or two each.... - Open Source kits to let you play Guitar Hero with a real guitar, or build your own Wii/PS3/USB controllers.

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Re: How to get/make connectors for exotic proprietary formats?

by tinsmith on Thu Nov 25, 2010 5:03 pm

Most of these use proprietary connectors. They won't still be in production and they would have been produced exclusively as part of a specific product. Third-party controllers would have looked at whatever reference sheets were available and taken measurements of the official version and then fabricated their own - still leaving you without a connector you can just buy.

There are exceptions, often involving a serial port. But the options generally come down to:

1. Recover a connector through salvage
2. Build or improvise your own
3. Buy one from someone else who has built or improvised one

Building your own that's on par with what you can salvage is generally an expensive process, requiring at a minimum some basic CAD skills. Not so expensive if you have ready access to a CNC mill and the skills to use it, but still...likely to be more so than finding a compatible controller and lopping its cord off.

Extremely popular versions (e.g. SNES) are more likely to have someone who has set up to produce these...but you'd have to find it, it's almost never going to be something you can order off Digikey.
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