Author Topic: Looking for things...  (Read 2244 times)

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Offline Kay Alett

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Looking for things...
« on: August 26, 2011, 07:24:34 pm »
Well I'll be the first to admit that I know nothing about techy stuff but I'm working on a personal pet project and I don't wanna give away the details...

But here's the situation. I'm looking for a usb charged light that runs on a battery.

Not like a typical usb powered laptop light, but rather a light that has a recharable battery that it runs on and charges through a usb.
I'm thinking maybe this is a quest in futility but in case there does not exist such an accessory I have a question: There are lights that run on usb power alone, and there are batteries that can power a usb device. So lets say I have a usb hub that allows me to connect several usb devices to a single device. like if your laptop only had one usb port, using this hub would give you 4. The hub I have doesn't need power either so i don't have to plug it in or anything. SO! Lets say I got this hub, I hook a afforementioned usb battery to one port, and hook a laptop light to another port. Theoretically the hub would allow the battery to power the light and should i plug the hub into a computer it would start charging the battery and power the light as well.... THEORETICALLY.

So does anyone know if this hypothesis is correct? Does anyone know if there are usb lights that have batteries in them so I don't have to bother with purchasing a usb battery?

Example of the type of battery I'm talking about: http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=usb+battery&hl=en&safe=off&prmd=ivns&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&biw=1366&bih=571&wrapid=tlif131440075733210&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=16249493326052630579&sa=X&ei=FypYTuXrFpOcgQe4_NCbDA&ved=0CIMBEPMCMAE#


I tried to explain things as best i can but i feel i still made things way too usb confusing by usb saying usb way usb too much. :P
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Offline Ziel

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2011, 12:10:40 am »
Well I'll be the first to admit that I know nothing about techy stuff but I'm working on a personal pet project and I don't wanna give away the details...

But here's the situation. I'm looking for a usb charged light that runs on a battery.

Not like a typical usb powered laptop light, but rather a light that has a recharable battery that it runs on and charges through a usb.
I'm thinking maybe this is a quest in futility but in case there does not exist such an accessory I have a question: There are lights that run on usb power alone, and there are batteries that can power a usb device. So lets say I have a usb hub that allows me to connect several usb devices to a single device. like if your laptop only had one usb port, using this hub would give you 4. The hub I have doesn't need power either so i don't have to plug it in or anything. SO! Lets say I got this hub, I hook a afforementioned usb battery to one port, and hook a laptop light to another port. Theoretically the hub would allow the battery to power the light and should i plug the hub into a computer it would start charging the battery and power the light as well.... THEORETICALLY.

So does anyone know if this hypothesis is correct? Does anyone know if there are usb lights that have batteries in them so I don't have to bother with purchasing a usb battery?

Example of the type of battery I'm talking about: http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=usb+battery&hl=en&safe=off&prmd=ivns&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&biw=1366&bih=571&wrapid=tlif131440075733210&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=16249493326052630579&sa=X&ei=FypYTuXrFpOcgQe4_NCbDA&ved=0CIMBEPMCMAE#


I tried to explain things as best i can but i feel i still made things way too usb confusing by usb saying usb way usb too much. :P

Well... I'm sure this isn't quite what you are looking for, but it's the first thing I could think of to look for.
http://www.techtoolsupply.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=ITP-R01
It's a rechargeable LED flashlight, which charges via USB.

Also found a USB rechargeable LED desk lamp:
http://www.amazon.com/Flip-Rechargeable-Desk-Travel-Light/dp/B002NTQ9MY
Kinda depends on what use you are looking for here.

Reading and thinking about it again, I'm not even sure these are quite the concept you're looking for. It's late and I need to sleep. I'll check back in this tomorrow morning and will maybe have more ideas.

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2011, 03:32:21 am »
I am not as well-versed with the electrical workings of the USB-standards as I am with the older RS-232 standard, but I took a quick look through the USB-specifications and if my understanding of them is correct I might be able to help you with some of these questions.

The hub I have doesn't need power either so i don't have to plug it in or anything.

That is not technically correct.  Your USB hub may not need a separate external power supply, but it does still need power.  The hub draws its power from the USB bus that it is plugged into.  So if you have your USB bus plugged into a USB port on your laptop, the bus will be drawing its power from your laptop.

SO! Lets say I got this hub, I hook a afforementioned usb battery to one port, and hook a laptop light to another port. Theoretically the hub would allow the battery to power the light and should i plug the hub into a computer it would start charging the battery and power the light as well.... THEORETICALLY.

Based on what I have read, this will not work.  Power over USB can only be sent downstream.  That means that it can only be sent from the host (your laptop) to the devices attached to the host (your hub and what's attached to your hub).  Plugging a battery into one port on the hub to power a lamp plugged into another port on the hub will not work since it would require you to send electrical power upstream.

Does anyone know if there are usb lights that have batteries in them so I don't have to bother with purchasing a usb battery?

I don't know if there is a commercial product for what you're looking for-- online marketplaces like Amazon.com, TigerDirect, eBay, RadioShack, etc. would be a much better resource for determining that.  However, such a device probably wouldn't be overly hard to build if you want to go through the effort of it.  Building a USB-powered battery charger somewhat like this one and then hooking up a SPST switch and a 3V lamp in series directly to the battery contacts would probably work out O.K. I'd think.  I hope that this helps.

Offline Ziel

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2011, 10:01:29 am »
Based on what I have read, this will not work.  Power over USB can only be sent downstream.  That means that it can only be sent from the host (your laptop) to the devices attached to the host (your hub and what's attached to your hub).  Plugging a battery into one port on the hub to power a lamp plugged into another port on the hub will not work since it would require you to send electrical power upstream.

This is correct, yes. But I think the question is whether or not he can plug the USB hub into the USB charger (main line that would usually connect to the computer and therefore be set up to draw power through the computer's USB port).

The answer to this in my eyes is a resounding 'maybe'. It would likely depend on the hub itself.

My question: why would you need the hub to begin with if you bought the usb-device-charging pack? If it has an outgoing USB port on it, and you plug the USB-powered light directly into it, wouldn't that do what you're looking for, but without going trough the hub first, which would likely just drain extra life from the battery and make the whole setup not last as long?

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Offline Kay Alett

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2011, 10:55:54 am »
My question: why would you need the hub to begin with if you bought the usb-device-charging pack? If it has an outgoing USB port on it, and you plug the USB-powered light directly into it, wouldn't that do what you're looking for, but without going trough the hub first, which would likely just drain extra life from the battery and make the whole setup not last as long?
Its hard to explain without giving away details. Suffice it to say it'd be a alot easier to plug the hub in. The project I'm working on is a prop and so the light, battery and hub will all be inside the prop and not removable. The main liine for the hub that plugs it in will be the only line exposed. So I'd plug that it, charge the electrical devices inside the prop and once done unplug and go.

The lights you showed me, Ziel, in your first post look interesting and LEDs were what i was considering. If I got my paws on them I MIGHT be able to gut them and use them for what I want... Hmmm. *puts his thinking caap on*
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Offline Ziel

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2011, 03:51:43 pm »
My question: why would you need the hub to begin with if you bought the usb-device-charging pack? If it has an outgoing USB port on it, and you plug the USB-powered light directly into it, wouldn't that do what you're looking for, but without going trough the hub first, which would likely just drain extra life from the battery and make the whole setup not last as long?
Its hard to explain without giving away details. Suffice it to say it'd be a alot easier to plug the hub in. The project I'm working on is a prop and so the light, battery and hub will all be inside the prop and not removable. The main liine for the hub that plugs it in will be the only line exposed. So I'd plug that it, charge the electrical devices inside the prop and once done unplug and go.

The lights you showed me, Ziel, in your first post look interesting and LEDs were what i was considering. If I got my paws on them I MIGHT be able to gut them and use them for what I want... Hmmm. *puts his thinking caap on*

Still a bit difficult to visualize exactly what is going on here... Do you need all of the ports on the hub, or just the one for the light? If the hub is just serving as a junction/extender sort of thing to go between the battery pack and the light, and you don't need any of the other ports, would a USB extension cable suffice? Then just have the battery pack charger cable as the only exposed cable?

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Offline Kay Alett

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2011, 04:33:09 pm »
No there will two other devices hooled up. thats why I'm using the hub insteadd of a simple extention.
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Offline Ziel

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2011, 06:34:44 pm »
Did some Googling, and found an article you may be interested in:
http://www.girr.org/mac_stuff/usb_stuff.html
It's a bit old, and some of it gets a little wordy, but there's some snippets of good info about general USB loads and such.

These other devices... are they all power-only, or will they require actual data transfer functionality?
If they are all power-only, then you could still connect the main line on the hub to the battery pack for power, leaving the one exposed cable being the cable to actually charge the battery pack. Then just plug in the light and two other devices and they should have power. All you're doing when powering the device is completing the circuit between the +V pin and ground pin with the voltage supplied by the battery. The power pins are independent of the data transfer pins. You can power without transferring data, but you can't transfer data without powering.

The big drawback here is that the battery pack you showed is only rated 1000mAh. Depending on how much current your devices will draw, you may end up with severely limited battery life for the whole system. For example, if you have three devices running at 100mA each, you'll get a little over 3 hours of battery life out of it from a full charge. That's not bad, but a lot of devices do draw more than 100mA.

There's also the fact that some non-powered USB hubs will only allow up to a certain amount of current per port. If any one of your devices requires more than this base amount of current, it may either function poorly or not at all.

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Offline Kay Alett

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2011, 05:33:24 pm »
Hmmm. I see. I might need to re-think some thing. Thank you Ziel. If you'd like to offer more advice please don't hesitate to post here. You're being a very good help. :)

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2011, 08:41:01 pm »
You need to remember a USB port of a computer doesn't have much current to
play with. It's limited to protect the computers circuits. If your HUB has it's own
power that would help alot..

I have a USB 160gig pocket drive that has two usb plugs to get enough power
to run it.  :P

The led light thing is probably your best bet.. :orbunny:
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Offline Ziel

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2011, 11:03:41 pm »
Hmmm. I see. I might need to re-think some thing. Thank you Ziel. If you'd like to offer more advice please don't hesitate to post here. You're being a very good help. :)

*returns to tinkering at his desk*

No problem. If you have any more questions regarding this, just throw them out here.  Also, if/when you get it done, I'd love to see what it is/does.

Oh yeah - *brohoof*

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Offline Kay Alett

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2011, 04:02:45 pm »
Hmmm. I see. I might need to re-think some thing. Thank you Ziel. If you'd like to offer more advice please don't hesitate to post here. You're being a very good help. :)

*returns to tinkering at his desk*

No problem. If you have any more questions regarding this, just throw them out here.  Also, if/when you get it done, I'd love to see what it is/does.

Oh yeah - *brohoof*
When I'm finished I'll be putting up pictures not just here but in my LJ too.

The light issue has been resolved. Like all things in life the simplest solution was the best and like always i was overcomplicating things. while i work i chanced to find a clip on book light that suited everything I needed and was actually a even better fit than what i was imagining. It was also the perfect color so I didn't have to piant it. :)

Now I have something else...

You know headphone extenders yes? Does anyone here know of people who'd be willing to do some custom work on one for me for a reasonable fee? Like to shorten the cord, which of course would require some re-wiring.
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Offline Hoagiebot

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2011, 08:30:20 am »
You know headphone extenders yes? Does anyone here know of people who'd be willing to do some custom work on one for me for a reasonable fee? Like to shorten the cord, which of course would require some re-wiring.

For a job as simple as shortening a headphone extender cord I think the cheapest way to go would to just buy a cheapo $5 soldering iron and a pair of wire stripper/cutters, and just shorten the cord yourself.  Paying someone else to do that, along with paying for them to ship the finished cord back to you, would end up being foolishly expensive.  Soldering, especially when it comes to just soldering some wires together, is not hard.  In addition, such a simple job does not require a fancy soldering iron, so the really cheap almost throw-away ones would do fine in this case.  Besides, if you keep on wanting to make these custom electronic props that you seem to be so determined on making, soldering would be a useful skill to learn.  It would open up a whole new world of possible electronics projects that you could do.  Just a suggestion.

Offline Storm Fox

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2011, 04:30:24 pm »
For a job as simple as shortening a headphone extender cord I think the cheapest way to go would to just buy a cheapo $5 soldering iron and a pair of wire stripper/cutters, and just shorten the cord yourself.  Paying someone else to do that, along with paying for them to ship the finished cord back to you, would end up being foolishly expensive.
Seconded,
Though I don’t know where you’ll find a $5 soldering iron, maybe $15 or $20, but whatever.


My main reason for posting is to tell you that the wires used in most headphone cords today,
Are these cheap little light gauge braided enamel coated wires, (lets just call them hell for short).

Now I can speak from experience that soldering these enamel coated wires, sucks,
If there is a mount or a pc board to attach to, then it won’t be so hard,
But if you try to solder a wire to another wire, you’ll get nothing but headaches.

So instead of cutting a wire shorter and soldering the ends together,
You could build your own with new wire,
Or cut the wire you have to the size you want, plus an inch or two,
And replace the end with one of these.
RS 1/8" Stereo Phone Plug,
RS 1/8" Stereo In-Line Audio Jack,
RS Solder-less 1/8" Stereo Phone Plug,
(There are many others if these are not the right plug type).

Also,
Braided enamel coated wires will not work with the solder-less version unless you melt the enamel off with a lighter or heat gun, and even then, not so good.
Though even with the solder-less version, you could still use solder if you wanted to, (I have, and it works fine). ;)

Hope that helps. :)
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Offline Kay Alett

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2011, 04:41:16 pm »
well I'll need to do some research on that stuff before I got attempting anything. I'm the type that measures for fives days straight before drawing his pencil line to mark the cut and measures more for about a week after before cutting.

In other words I'm very anal about not doing anything that can't be imediately undone fast and easy.
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Offline Ziel

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2011, 07:15:15 pm »
Video:  http://andreasodegard.com/2009/05/tutorials-how-to-fix-audio-jacks/

Frankly (as long as the cable is separate wires as most headphones are now, as opposed to the coaxial format used in a lot of old-school audio equipment), the solder isn't even necessary. Okay, so it's probably best-practice to solder. But if you don't have solder, some good twisting of the leads should suffice. As long as you have good enough contact that you aren't worried about them coming apart and opening the circuit.

It's really easy, with or without soldering. And you seem the type who is willing to get your paws dirty with a project. Not a big deal at all. As I said before: a wire is just a solid chunk of conductor meant to complete a circuit. As long as you connect the correct things together, there's nothing all that complex about it.

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Offline Foxpup

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2011, 11:20:31 pm »
Enameled wire in headphone cables? For serious? The only enameled wire I've ever seen in a pair of headphones (cheap or not) is in the driver coils. In any case, it's no big deal to just vaporise the damn stuff with your soldering iron and add some heat-shrink.

As for just twisting the wires together, this will not work at all if they really are enameled, and in any case it won't last for very long. You really do need to solder the wires after you twist them together, otherwise they'll just come apart eventually. And don't forget to repair the insulation when you've finished! Heat-shrink is the preferred method, but electrical tape will work fine if you don't mind the ugliness.
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Offline Kay Alett

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2011, 02:10:59 am »
Well I think I could just twist the wires together and seal it with electrical tape since the wires aren't going to be visible.
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Offline Hoagiebot

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #18 on: September 03, 2011, 06:01:23 am »
Seconded,
Though I don’t know where you’ll find a $5 soldering iron, maybe $15 or $20, but whatever.

You can find a $5.00 soldering iron if you know where to look...

$5.00 60-watt Soldering Iron
http://www.2dkits.com/zencart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=25

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As a side note, since I linked to the 2DKits.com website above anyway, I recommend that you check out some of the other cool stuff that they have for sale there.  They are a local company based near me that was originally formed to provide LED "blinkie" kits for the blinkie-building workshop of the DucKon Science Fiction Convention.  Having attended that convention for many years and have built literally dozens of their kits by now as well as gotten to know the 2DKits people personally, I recommend their blinkie kits to anyone who likes to solder those kinds of things.  I have no ties to them other than being a customer, but I don't mind endorsing them since they are tied to DucKon and part of the fannish community themselves.

Offline Ziel

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2011, 09:25:15 am »
Enameled wire in headphone cables? For serious? The only enameled wire I've ever seen in a pair of headphones (cheap or not) is in the driver coils. In any case, it's no big deal to just vaporise the damn stuff with your soldering iron and add some heat-shrink.

As for just twisting the wires together, this will not work at all if they really are enameled, and in any case it won't last for very long. You really do need to solder the wires after you twist them together, otherwise they'll just come apart eventually. And don't forget to repair the insulation when you've finished! Heat-shrink is the preferred method, but electrical tape will work fine if you don't mind the ugliness.

If it's enameled then sure, you will need to solder them. But I can't imagine that they would use enameled wire for the entire length of a headphone cord. Companies make things as cheaply (cost-wise, regardless of quality) as they can get by with, and full-length enameled cord would add enough cost that I doubt they would do this.

Like I said, twisting wouldn't be best practice. But if you don't need the thing to be super-robust, and if you are diligent with your twisting, you can make a good enough connection that will last a while. Twisting effectively is also easier if you are dealing with a wire made of a bundle of wires, rather than one solid conductor.

In the wiring in your house, the wires are just twisted together at most junctions. They use one of those insulated caps to help ensure a solid connection. But for a low-power project like this you can get a good enough connection by twisting and then wrapping in heat-shrink tube or electrical tape.

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Offline Storm Fox

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2011, 04:36:21 pm »
@All concerning the enamel wires…

I've done a lot of repairs for people, wires pulled out of headphone/ear-bud ear pieces, broken cables, broken jacks, etc.

And with the exception of headphones that have a 1/4 inch jack, every one that I’ve encountered has had the “wires from hell” as I like to call them.

The wires are enamel coated, so no interior shielding is needed, they are usually two sets of two for stereo,
And sometimes one set of two with a common ground, (the ground is not always enamel coated, it depends on the manufacturer).

And their something like 40 gauge or higher braided together to make roughly 24 gauge wire.

And the problem with these is the enamel, solder will just not stick.
Also, they are braided, so you can’t sand them, and such a light gauge is used that they don’t absorb much heat from a soldering iron, making them hard to fuse,
(where getting the solder and wires hot enough to fuse, is often to hot for pc board mounts and contacts, risking damage).

In addition, since the wires are of such a light gauge, lighters or heat guns often risk damaging the wires, making them brittle with low conductivity,
(so melting/burning off the enamel is not easy).

It’s not my picture, but here is what they look like



@Kaloyan Alett

Well I think I could just twist the wires together and seal it with electrical tape since the wires aren't going to be visible.
Solder is the best way to go, but if you really just don't want to do that, you can use Twist-on wire caps,
And they are not all just for large electrical projects, as there are plenty of small caps for low voltage DC projects as well.

Just keep in mind that these will only work if the wires are not enamel coated, (as in, bare copper only).

And finally, as Ziel mentioned, heat-shrink tube will also work, but you will have to make sure that it fits tightly, else it can come apart.

 :)
« Last Edit: September 03, 2011, 04:53:39 pm by Storm Fox »
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Offline Kay Alett

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Re: Looking for things...
« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2011, 05:33:30 pm »
Ok. Thanks for the advice everyone. :) I'll see how it plays out in the future.
Semi-Retired from Furry.
 - - - -
Come bitter Rain,
And wash from my Heart
That saddest of all Words: Home