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using ribbon cable for gantry wiring

Posted by Origamib 
using ribbon cable for gantry wiring
May 08, 2017 12:31PM
So I'm looking into using ribbon cable and IDC connectors to make some nicer, and hopefully more modular wiring for my hotend. My hope at the moment is to wire in only fans, thermistors and maybe an IR sensor. This should take up 9 of the 14 wires in my ribbon cable (4 for fans, 3 for IR sensor, 2 for thermistor). Would it be possible to add motors or heater cartridges to the ribbon cable, or will it cause too much interference?

My second thought is that I may run 2 ribbon cables in the end, the second will be for the heater cartridge and extruder motor, and possibly the Y axis motor as well. I'm not sure what the minimum gauge of wiring required is for the hotend, so may have to utilise more then 2 wires in the ribbon. Is there a way to minimize interference between 2 lengths of ribbon cable running close to each other?

Any thoughts and opinions on this appreciated. My parts arrive in the next few days so will keep this thread updated.
Re: using ribbon cable for gantry wiring
May 08, 2017 02:26PM
DD was working on this a while back, pretty sure the core machine's probably using ribbon cables.
Re: using ribbon cable for gantry wiring
May 08, 2017 03:33PM
My printer originally came with ribbon cabling for wiring (Boot Industries BI V 2.5 Kickstarter printer), they doubled up wires for the extruder steppers which were at top of columns.

I've since removed the extruder steppers from the top and only have signal value wires running to the top, I'm using CAT6 Ethernet cable now.

Just make sure the wire is rated high enough for whatever current you are pumping through it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/08/2017 03:34PM by briangilbert.
Re: using ribbon cable for gantry wiring
May 08, 2017 03:37PM
Doubling or tripling up pins/wires will take care of the current limitations, and you can get twisted pair ribbon cable that will help with crosstalk problems -the only one that matters is PWM singals to power fans and heaters, and motor noise coupling into thermistor inputs. The problem is none of those cables are meant to be flexed regularly. What you really need is a flex ribbon type cable like the ones used to make connections to print heads in inkjet printers. They will withstand flexing millions of times without failure. There are a lot of companies that make such cables, and you can buy the stuff in bulk, but then you have the problem of putting connectors on it.

I used a flex ribbon for all the extruder connections in my last printer. The cable came from a tape library robot that I found at the makerspace. It originally had 34 conductors in two ribbons of 17 with a single double row IDC type connector at each end. I didn't need 34 conductors, so I removed the connectors and sawed them in half, then stripped out the center conductors in each ribbon and split them lengthwise. Then I put the ends back into the cut connectors. That gave me two, 16 conductor ribbons. Then I made up circuit boards for each end of the cable- PITA! Then I put mating IDC connectors on all the wires that needed to connect to the cable. It has performed flawlessly for over 3 years, but it sure was a lot of work to put it into the machine. In the most recent machine, even though I still have the other half of the original cable, I chose the easier route of using some ultraflexible wire to go from the controller board to the extruder and just put appropriate connectors on each end. I just couldn't see going to all that trouble again. But who knows, in 6 months I may change my mind...

Ultra MegaMax Dominator 3D printer: [drmrehorst.blogspot.com]
Re: using ribbon cable for gantry wiring
May 08, 2017 04:48PM
...The problem is none of those cables are meant to be flexed regularly...

3M™ High Flex Life Cable 3319 Series flex life of 100 million cycles at 1 3/4 inch diameter.
5 Metres 14 Way £58.55


Re: using ribbon cable for gantry wiring
May 08, 2017 05:39PM
I'm hoping to simplify the wiring a bit using an idc connector on the ribbon cable that has 2.54mm pitch pins designed to be mounted to pcb boards. Instead of mounting it on a board, I'll be mounting it via 2 m3 holes on the idc connector. All parts will then have short wires with Dupont connectors to attach to the idc. I made sure to buy high quality spectra strip wire, although nothing as pricey as that flex stuff!

Apparently dupont is good enough for up to 3a @ 12v, although I'll do some tests before I trust the heater cartridge on it unattended... if it doesn't work I'll have to make a simple pcb with screw terminals instead. OR I'll use a d-sub connector between the parts and the ribbon cable....
Re: using ribbon cable for gantry wiring
May 08, 2017 06:00PM
My Ormerod 1 3D printer purchased in late 2013 uses ordinary 26-way ribbon cable to connect the bed heater and thermistor of the moving Y axis to the electronics. It's never given a problem, although that printer doesn't get a lot of use so I don't know how durable it would be if used continually for many months.

Large delta printer [miscsolutions.wordpress.com], E3D tool changer, Robotdigg SCARA printer, Crane Quad and Ormerod

Disclosure: I design Duet electronics and work on RepRapFirmware, [duet3d.com].
Re: using ribbon cable for gantry wiring
May 09, 2017 06:19AM
The spectra strip I've ordered does not have any info on how much flex it can give, although I'm designing it to be pretty modular and easy to replace so if it goes I can replace or cough up for the price of some flexible ribbon. I've found some that is cheaper then the above on RS components, but its still 3x the cost of what I've got now @ £90 for a 30m reel.
Re: using ribbon cable for gantry wiring
December 09, 2017 05:42PM
I know I'm late to the party -- but take a look at the wiring for the mendel90. It runs everything through standard ribbon cables and D-subminiature connectors. -- For the heatbed and hot end it just uses multiple pairs of cables to meet the amperage ratings that are required. But for signal and motors it just uses a single lead from the ribbon cable.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/2017 05:42PM by BrainSlugs83.
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