Ok, forgive me as this didn't turn out how I really wanted it to be. I opened my case one day and saw dirt all over, so figured I'd rip that thing apart and re-sleeve the poor thing and make a tutorial out of it. Like I always do, I have good intentions, but it doesn't turn out right because I get caught up in the work so much, I don't take good pictures. When I was done, I looked back and saw that nothing really told anyone how to do anything! So, at 4am I whipped something together with some stupid adapter and some crummy lighting. That said, here it goes!
First, figure out what you're going to sleeve. If it's the whole thing, you'll need a variaty of toys from your local or internet vendor. I have a Fry's in town, so I like to go there for my goodies. You can get kits anywhere that should have the basic sized sleeving in the common sizes and lengths. In general, I use 1/8" sleeving for the single runs of molex leads, and 1/4" sleeving may be easier to work with. The size is really a close guess because the stuff can expand anywhere within twice it's size and still look good. You may fight more than you want to with this 1/8" stuff...so it's up to you and your blood pressure.
Then you need the stuff to hold it in place. Folks here like ZipTies, but I don't. Heatshrink is for me! It looks much cleaner, and more profesional IMO. ZipTies can be applied too tightly, too loosely, and the cut pieces can be sharp if you don't have a fancy $90 ZipTie gun. For this tutorial, I only needed two sizes: A little bit of 3/8" and mostly 1/4". You'll need bigger stuff than that to do a large bundle obviously. I had done some of mine prior, so I'm not redoing it here...sorry:p
Here's basically what you're doing, then we'll get to the bigger picture. What you're doing is just putting the wire in a sleeve and then getting it to stay put; and all along you want it to be pretty. Here's the problem:
You can't just put sleeving on that easily. The molex is in the way! Oh dear, what to do...
I know, take off the Molex! Ok, so how do you do that? With a molex tool ya tool! I had a nice one from Frozen CPU
, but let someone borrow it and had to pick another up at fry's. The basic Molex pin is .093", so get one for that size. Fry's carries Waldon Molex tools and other Molex bits, and you can find the same stuff HERE
. I have that W-HT-2038-P
tool and it works fine. It's just not shiney. With it, you can do both female and male, so it does fine for any occasion.
Here's my test sample I scooped out of the drawer for the basics:
Lay it out so you can work with it. We'll begin by getting it sized up for it's tuxido. Layout the sleeve from connector to connector and cut it. The thing to keep in mind here is that you'll need some wire left un-sleeved so the heatshrink will hold on to both the wire AND the sleeve. By cutting it right at the connector may sound like we're going against that, but keep in mind that it's going to expand in thickness with wire inside it, and will shorten up just a bit. If it doesn't have much stuff in it, then cut a bit more off.
So now you have the wire and the sleeve ready to go on. Now we need to get that molex out of the way. Here's what's going on in that molex and how those pins stay in.
The pins have barbs on them (two) and the plastic piece has lands that they catch on.
They go in one end, then won't pull out. You need the tool to push those pins in, and it pushes the pin out of the molex's body at the same time.
On some of the connectors, it's a breeze because they push right out. On others, you need to give the tool a little whirl in a circle while pushing on it. It's just that some of the barbs are right on the edge and need a little more motivation to let go of the landing. Basically, you just hold the connector in one hand and push with the tool in the other. If it fights, don't worry because you're still probably doing it right. Some just like fighting.
Now you should have this:
But what if I get lost putting it back right!? That's indeed a good question. If you don't like drawing, here's a little trick before we go further along. Molex's only connect one way. They're keyed with the top having angles cut off the edges. If you have a good memory, you can look at one that's still together and remember "yellow on right facing me". My memory sucks, so here's a geometric picture for those with the same (or less) menatal capacity as me. Plug the empty connector in, and loop back the corrisponding wire straight back. You can't mess this up really. If you ever get confused in what goes where, this will get you back on path:
Oh, and black is black. But if you REALLy care about getting the same black wire going all the way down, you'll have to do wire pulling through the sleeving. Getting ahead of myself here, but once the sleeve is on, both blacks look the same. So pull on one end, and the other end sinks back too. That's your wire, and you can then continue doing this on down the lead keeping that black in the same pinout all the way through. Picky, but some like to do that. I think it's a good idea just to keep your sleeving from looking pregnant. If you keep all the wires in order down in the sleeving, there's no big buldge anywhere and it's nice and even. Moving along to sleeving!
Slide the sleeving over the open end of the wires. You may find it tricky because the pins catch on everything. You can bind them real tight with electrical tape, but keep in mind that the tape will increase the diameter of the bundle you're trying to shove through the sleeve, so use just a little bit. Just enough to cover the barbs and tips so they don't catch. You can also expand the sleeving to make it's guts wider so the wires pass through easier. Squash it down and get it over the wires.
Grab the length of heatshrink (they come in long tubes so you look funny walking around Fry's with them) and hold it up to the sleeved wire.
You want half of it on the wire, and the same amount on the sleeving. Maybe even more on the wire because that's what's going to slide more often than not. I keep it uniform, but do what you gotta do.
You'll face the same hazards here with the heatshrink as you did with the sleeve. Except the heatshrink won't budge.
This is why you buy the stuff big enough to get over your work. The stuff shrinks a lot so don't be too afraid that it's too big. Even if it IS too big, you can brave the heat and pinch it tight to the wire. When it cools, it stays like that pretty well. And you may fight the sleeve a bit because it can strand out and the individual strands catch the sleeve. You can melt the bitter-end a bit so they don't fray and catch, but that's pretty permanant. I put an edge in the shrink, then tease the other edge in. With a gentle twist, the heatshrink is over the sleeve. If it's snug on the sleeving and hard to move...uhhh...spit works good for a little while. Yuck!
This part should NOT be skipped! I do it so often, it's not even funny anymore. I get the sleeve on and one piece of heatshrink and start putting it back together...only to find that I forgot the other piece of shrink for the other end. DOH! So, go ahead and slide another piece on there.
The hard part is done! Now you just snap the pins back into the CORRECT hole of the molex again. Remember the "loop-back" here, as you may need to do this about now. Give the pins a gentle tug to ensure they're in there pretty good as you go from pin to pin. You may also find that a pin may not want to stay in. A barb could have broken off, or maybe it's just bent in, as is in most cases. It just doesn't spring out any more. Take something thin (like my knife here) and gently pry the barb out a bit.
Should stay in there now!
I'm not posting pics of how to shrink the tubing. My way is the way everyone says not to do this. The right way is to use a heatgun. You know how hard it is to hold a heatgun in one hand, keep the sleeve tight with the other hand, hold the wire in the other, and do so without burning any of your three hands!? Hard. I see a lighter that I may, or may not use. IF you do something so dangerous and wrong, do so with the tip of the flame and only for a brief second at a time. If you use the heat OFF of the flame, you can soot up your work and make it ugly. If you use the heart of the flame, everything AROUND it gets hot because the tip is the hot part.
Heatshrink holds heat very well. When you see it start to shrink, you can remove the heatsource and it may keep shrinking. If you give it a second to cool, you can still work with it if you want to. I mentioned squeezing it to the wire, and I do so. I don't think you should at all, because you'll sue me. But my fingers are so numb at this point that what's a little more pain?
There's your finished practice piece. Pretty? "No, your pictures are crap Chumz". I know, I know...it's 4am and the only light to use is comming off my monitor. Besides, I'm not showing off my work, I'm showing you how to do better!
Look at what you did right, and what you did wrong. It's ok to screw up here because it's just practice. Better to do it here instead of on the real thing. In the service, we had a little saying, "the more you bleed in training, the less you bleed in battle". I like that one still today, and you sir can use it in modding your case!
Ready? Cause we're moving on to the case...