Quick noob question

I just bought one of these microcontrollers, and I’m completely new to programming and building robots. I’m just wondering, how do I connect wires to the I/O ports? The side that plugs into my encoder had a special connector, does this need one like that too?


I can give you some general advice here, but I need to know which Orangutan you’re using and more details about your encoder connector if you want me to be more specific.

On most Orangutan models, the general I/O lines come out to a 3xN header where the row near the edge of the board is ground, the middle row is power (either 5 V or VIN, depending on jumper settings), and the inside row consists of the I/O lines themselves. Typically, when you connect a sensor to your Orangutan, you will need to connect the sensor’s signal line to an Orangutan I/O line of your choice (somewhere on the inside row) and the sensor’s ground line to ground on your Orangutan (somewhere on the outside row). If your sensor needs power, you can get that from the middle row.

Now, if your sensor has a special connector, you will probably need to create your own adapter that will connect to your sensor on one side and give you wires you can plug into (or solder to) your Orangutan on the other side. A few wires, some wire strippers, a soldering iron, and some solder might be all you need for a quick solution. In my experience, when I build robots I end up making a lot of custom connectors for my sensors.

- Ben

Thanks for the help! I was thinking about just soldering them on, but I’m just afraid of messing something up and ruining the microcontroller, so obviously I would rather have some removable connector. But if that’s not possible, that’s fine too. Specifically, I have this microcontroller:


along with this encoder:


and compatible motor and wheels. As you can see from the picture, all of the wires have a little metal connector only on one side, the side that plugs into the encoder. The other side is just insulated wire. So basically I’m just wondering if there is something like this specifically made for this microcontroller?

What I suggest you do is take the ends of the wires that come out of your encoder (the side that’s just the insulated wire) and strip them to give you maybe .25" or so of exposed copper. If the copper in the wires is stranded (that is to say, if the wire is made of of a lot of finer copper strands wrapped around each other), I recommend you tin the tip with some solder. Just hold the stripped edge of the wire next to a soldering iron and use it to very lightly coat the stripped portion with solder. Once this is done, you should just be able to insert the stripped portions of the wires directly into the holes of the black 3x12 I/O header located along the bottom edge of the Orangutan. The ground wire should go into the ground (outside/bottom) row, any power wires should go into the power (middle) row, and the rest of the signal wires should go into the signal (inside/top) row.

If this first method doesn’t work so well, you can try making your own custom connector. The I/O header used on the Orangutan has holes spaced .1" apart (this is a fairly standard spacing for headers), so another option is for you to find some male pins that also have a .1" spacing, such as are shown on the left side of the picture below:

You can solder your encoder wires to the shorter side of these male pins and then plug the longer side of the pins into your Orangutan. They plug in firmly but remain removable so you aren’t permanently altering your Orangutan in any way. A quick google search revealed this as one of many potential sources for such male header pins: futurlec.com/ConnHead.shtml

- Ben

Thank you so much! That helped a lot. I will probably have more questions in the near future about the same project. Thanks again.

No problem, I’m happy to help; feel free to ask if you have any more questions. Good luck with your project!

- Ben

Hey, I think I’m gonna go with the pin idea. Would the ones here work?

king-cart.com/phoenixent/pro … atch=exact

I’m thinking about getting the HWS9030 ones, which are 3x1, so I’d get like 9 of them. I think it will make everything easier to work with.

Those will work fine, and you should probably get extras since they’re so cheap. Keep in mind you can get longer strips and break them apart too (wire cutters work well, or even your fingers, although the plastic insulator may break at a pin rather than in between them).

You might want to put a little heat-shrink tubing or hot-glue over the wires as “strain relief,” they tend to fold sharply at the ends where you solder to them, and wear out.

Good luck with your encoder!


There’s a surcharge for that site, gotta order at least $50, lol. I think this is the same thing:

sparkfun.com/commerce/produc … cts_id=116

It doesn’t say that it has .1" spacing but it looks about right…

Yeah, those look standard .1" headers.