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PCB/PCBA knowledge
A comprehensive guide to pin header in PCB assembly manufacturing

Pin header, a type of connector, acts as a bridge between two circuits, carrying out the transmission of signals and currents. Due to its widespread use in PCB board connections, it is also known as a universal connector.

Pin headers are commonly used with connectors to create a board-to-board connection effect or with electronic wire harness terminals. They can be used together to form a board-to-wire connection or individually for board-to-board connections. Of course, they can also be used with DuPont wires. In some circuits, they are also used with jumper caps to act as jumpers.

The role of pin header connectors is also to serve as a bridge between circuits that are interrupted or isolated, undertaking the task of current or signal transmission. The other half of the connector, corresponding to the pin header, is the socket, which has spring pieces inside to grip the pin header, making it difficult to disconnect.

Like plugs and sockets, pin header connectors are designed for the convenience of connecting and disconnecting circuits. Standardized pitch specifications enhance compatibility in device connections, improving device interoperability and ease of replacement, playing an indispensable role in PCB design.

Table of Contents

What is a pin header ?

A pin header, often simply referred to as a header, is a type of electrical connector typically used in electronic devices. It consists of a row of pins or sockets in a plastic housing. The pins are usually spaced apart at a standard distance, allowing them to be plugged into a corresponding connector or socket on a circuit board or another electronic component.What is a pin header and type

What are the different types of pin header?

Pin headers come in various types, each designed for specific applications and requirements. Some common types of pin headers include:

1. Straight Pin Header: This is the most basic type of pin header, where the pins are straight and perpendicular to the header’s base. They are commonly used for standard connections on circuit boards.

2. Right-Angle Pin Header: In this type, the pins are bent at a right angle to the header’s base. Right-angle pin headers are often used in applications where space is limited, or where connections need to be made perpendicular to the circuit board.

3. Surface Mount (SMD) Pin Header: Surface mount pin headers are designed to be mounted directly onto the surface of a circuit board, rather than through holes. They are typically used in modern electronics manufacturing processes where space-saving and automated assembly are priorities.

4. Dual Row Pin Header: These headers have two rows of pins, allowing for a higher density of connections compared to single-row headers. They are commonly used in applications where a large number of connections are required in a compact space.

5. Stackable Pin Header: Stackable headers feature long pins that can be inserted into multiple headers, allowing for stacking of multiple boards or modules on top of each other. They are often used in applications such as prototyping and modular electronics.

6. Shrouded Pin Header: Shrouded headers have a plastic shroud or housing surrounding the pins, providing additional protection and stability. They are commonly used in applications where there is a risk of accidental contact with the pins.

7. Breakaway Pin Header: Breakaway headers consist of individual pins that can be broken off in groups to create headers of custom lengths. They offer flexibility in assembly and customization.

8. Wire-to-Board Pin Header: These headers are designed to connect wires to a circuit board, providing a secure and reliable connection for applications such as power supply and signal transmission.

These are just a few examples of the types of pin headers available, and there may be variations and specialized types designed for specific applications. The choice of pin header depends on factors such as the application requirements, space constraints, and assembly preferences.

What are pin headers used for?

Pin headers are commonly used for various purposes in electronics, such as:

– Interfacing: They provide a means to connect different electronic modules or components together, facilitating communication and data transfer.

– Expansion: Pin headers are often used on circuit boards to provide expansion or interface options for additional features or peripherals.

– Programming and Debugging: In some cases, pin headers are used for programming microcontrollers or for debugging purposes, allowing for easy access to specific signals or pins.

Power Supply: They can also be used for supplying power to a device or circuit.

How to solder a pin header?

Using a pin header involves several steps to ensure proper installation onto a printed circuit board (PCB) and secure connection of female connectors or other components. Here’s a basic guide on how to use a pin header:

1. Selecting the Right Pin Header:
– Choose a pin header with the appropriate number of pins (also called contacts or positions) for your application. Pin headers come in various configurations, including single-row, double-row, and right-angle headers, so select the one that matches your PCB layout and connector requirements.

2. Preparing the PCB:
– Ensure that the PCB is clean and free of any debris or contaminants that may interfere with the connection. The PCB should have corresponding holes drilled or plated through for the pin header pins to be inserted.

3. Inserting the Pin Header:
– Orient the pin header so that the pins align with the holes on the PCB. Carefully insert the pins of the header into the corresponding holes on the PCB, applying gentle pressure to ensure they are fully seated.

4. Soldering the Pin Header:
– Once the pin header is correctly positioned on the PCB, solder the pins to the pads on the bottom side of the board. Apply a small amount of solder to each pin and pad junction, ensuring a good electrical connection. Avoid using excessive solder, as it can cause bridging between pins.

5. Inspecting the Solder Joints:
– After soldering, visually inspect the solder joints to ensure they are smooth, shiny, and free of solder bridges or cold joints. Use a magnifying glass or microscope if necessary to check for any defects that may affect the connection.

6. Connecting Female Connectors or Components:
– Once the pin header is securely soldered to the PCB, you can connect female connectors or other components to the header. Align the pins of the connector with the corresponding pins of the header and gently press the connector onto the pins until it is fully seated.

7. Testing the Connection:
– After connecting the female connectors or components, test the connection to ensure that it is secure and reliable. Verify that there is good electrical continuity between the pins of the header and the connected components.

By following these steps, you can effectively use a pin header to create secure connections between a PCB and female connectors or other components in your electronic circuit.

What is the difference between pin header and connector?

 difference between pin header and connector

Pin headers and connectors serve similar functions in electronics, but they have some key differences:

1. Design and Orientation:
– Pin Header: A pin header typically consists of a row of pins arranged in a plastic housing. The pins are usually male and are designed to be inserted into a corresponding female connector or socket. Pin headers can be straight, right-angle, or surface mount, depending on the application.
– Connector: A connector is a more general term that encompasses a wider range of configurations. Connectors can have male pins, female sockets, or a combination of both. They may include additional features such as locking mechanisms, polarization, and shielding. Connectors can be used to join different components or modules together, allowing for easy assembly, disassembly, and maintenance.

2. Purpose and Application:
– Pin Header: Pin headers are often used for board-to-board connections, allowing for easy interfacing between circuit boards or modules. They are commonly found on development boards, expansion boards, and other electronic devices where modular construction or easy customization is required.
– Connector: Connectors are used in a wide range of applications beyond board-to-board connections. They can be found in cables, wires, and various electronic devices to facilitate connections between different components or subsystems. Connectors are often used for power supply, signal transmission, data transfer, and other purposes.

3. Termination Method:
– Pin Header: Pin headers are typically soldered onto a circuit board during assembly, providing a permanent and secure connection. They can also be press-fit or surface mounted, depending on the design and requirements.
– Connector: Connectors may use soldering, crimping, or other termination methods to establish a connection. They can be attached to wires, cables, or other components, allowing for easy installation and replacement.

In summary, while both pin headers and connectors facilitate electrical connections in electronics, they differ in their design, purpose, and application. Pin headers are primarily used for board-to-board connections and feature male pins arranged in a housing, while connectors are more versatile and can be used in various configurations and applications beyond board-to-board connections.

What materials are pin headers?

Pin headers are typically made from a combination of materials chosen for their electrical conductivity, mechanical strength, and durability. The main materials used in the construction of pin headers include:

1. Metal Alloys: The pins themselves are often made from metal alloys such as brass, phosphor bronze, or stainless steel. These materials offer good electrical conductivity and mechanical strength, allowing for reliable connections and durability.

2. Plastic: The housing or body of the pin header is commonly made from plastic materials such as nylon, polyester, or thermoplastic polymers. Plastic is chosen for its insulating properties, lightweight nature, and ease of molding into various shapes and sizes. The plastic housing also helps to protect the pins and provide mechanical support.

3. Tin, Gold, or Other Platings: To improve electrical conductivity and prevent corrosion, the pins of the header may be plated with metals such as tin, gold, or other alloys. Tin plating is common for general-purpose headers, while gold plating is preferred for applications requiring high reliability and low contact resistance, such as in aerospace or medical devices.

4. Other Coatings: In addition to platings, the pins may also be coated with other materials such as nickel or silver to further enhance conductivity and corrosion resistance.

The specific materials used in a pin header can vary depending on factors such as the intended application, environmental conditions, and cost considerations. Manufacturers may offer a range of options to meet different requirements, including variations in pin materials, platings, and housing materials.

How to measure pin headers?

Measuring pin headers involves determining key physical dimensions such as pin pitch, pin length, and overall dimensions. Here’s how you can measure pin headers:

Pin Pitch: Pin pitch refers to the distance between the centers of adjacent pins. Use a caliper or ruler to measure the distance between the center of one pin to the center of the adjacent pin. This measurement is typically given in millimeters (mm) or inches (in).

Pin Length: Pin length is the distance from the base of the pin (where it meets the housing) to the tip. Measure the length of a pin from its base to its tip using a ruler or caliper. Ensure the pin is fully extended if it’s retractable.

Overall Width: Measure the width of the entire pin header, including the plastic housing, using a ruler or caliper. This measurement is usually taken from the outer edges of the housing.

Overall Height: Measure the height of the pin header from the base of the housing to the highest point, typically the top of the pins. This measurement gives you the overall height of the header.

Number of Pins: Count the number of pins in the header by visually inspecting or by referring to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Additional Features: Some pin headers may have additional features such as keying slots, polarization notches, or other mechanical features. Note these features if present.

What is the spacing of pin headers?

The spacing of pin headers, also known as pin pitch or pin spacing, refers to the distance between the centers of adjacent pins. This spacing is a critical parameter because it determines compatibility and interchangeability with other connectors or sockets.

Pin headers are available in various standard spacings, with the most common ones being:

(1). 2.54 mm (0.1 inches): This is the most widely used pin pitch for general-purpose pin headers. It’s commonly found in through-hole and surface-mount headers and is compatible with a wide range of connectors and prototyping boards.

(2). 2.00 mm: Pin headers with a 2.00 mm pitch offer higher pin density compared to the 2.54 mm pitch. They are used in applications where space-saving is a priority but may require connectors specifically designed for this pitch.

(3). 1.27 mm: Pin headers with a 1.27 mm pitch are commonly used in compact electronic devices and applications where miniaturization is important. They provide higher pin density than the 2.54 mm pitch but require connectors and components designed for this smaller pitch.

(4). Others: There are also pin headers available with non-standard pitches for specialized applications. These may include pitches such as 1.00 mm, 2.50 mm, 3.00 mm, etc., though they are less common and may require custom connectors or components.

When selecting a pin header, it’s essential to choose one with the appropriate pitch to ensure compatibility with other components and connectors in your design. The spacing between pins determines whether they will align properly with the corresponding sockets or pads on a circuit board or connector. Misalignment due to incorrect spacing can result in poor connections, short circuits, or damage to components.

What is Arduino pin header?

What is Arduino pin header?An Arduino pin header refers to the set of pins arranged in a specific configuration on an Arduino microcontroller board. These pins serve various functions and can be used for digital input/output (I/O), analog input, power supply, communication interfaces, and other purposes. The Arduino pinout layout typically consists of two rows of pins with a standard spacing of 2.54 mm (0.1 inches), allowing for easy interfacing with other electronic components, modules, and sensors.

The pins on an Arduino board are often labeled with numbers and/or function labels to indicate their purpose. Commonly found pins on Arduino boards include:

1. Digital I/O Pins: These pins can be configured as either inputs or outputs, allowing the Arduino to read digital signals from sensors or control external devices.

2. Analog Input Pins: These pins can measure analog voltages, allowing the Arduino to read values from analog sensors such as temperature sensors, light sensors, and potentiometers.

3. Power Supply Pins: These pins provide power to the Arduino board and connected peripherals. They typically include pins for providing a regulated 5V voltage, ground (GND) pins, and sometimes pins for supplying unregulated voltage (Vin) from an external power source.

4. Communication Interface Pins: Arduino boards often feature pins for serial communication, such as UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver-Transmitter) pins for serial communication via USB or external serial devices, SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) pins for communication with SPI devices, and I2C (Inter-Integrated Circuit) pins for I2C communication with compatible sensors and modules.

5. Special Function Pins: Some Arduino boards may include special function pins for features such as interrupt inputs, PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) outputs, and reset pins.

Arduino pin headers allow users to easily connect external components, sensors, modules, and devices to the Arduino board, enabling a wide range of projects and applications in electronics, robotics, automation, and more. The versatility and ease of use of Arduino pin headers make Arduino boards popular choices for hobbyists, students, and professionals alike.

FAQ

A pin header, often simply referred to as a header, is a type of electrical connector typically used in electronic devices. It consists of a row of pins or sockets in a plastic housing.

Straight Pin Header
Right-Angle Pin Header
Surface Mount (SMD) Pin Header
Dual Row Pin Header
Stackable Pin Header
Shrouded Pin Header
Breakaway Pin Header
Wire-to-Board Pin Header

Pin headers are commonly used for various purposes in electronics, such as:

Interfacing
Expansion
Programming and Debugging

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