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Quick Tool Review – Engineer PA-09 Crimping Pliers

For a while now I’ve been attaching terminals such as Molex KK Dupont, & JST PH to wire ends with a lot of patience & a very fine soldering iron, however this method takes a lot of time, and with terminals like Dupont types, the terminal won’t fit into the connector body properly unless it’s crimped correctly. Official tools from the likes of JST or Molex are hilariously expensive, (~£250 for the Molex KK tool), and each tool only does a single connector series, so these are out of the picture. The cheapest available tool (~£40) for these types of terminals is the Engineer PA-09:

Engineer PA-09
Engineer PA-09

These are simple crimping pliers, with no niceties like a ratchet mechanism, but nonetheless they work very well for the cost. The PA-09 can handle terminals from 1mm-1.9mm, there is another tool, the PA-21, which crimps terminals from 1.6mm-2.5mm. The fit & finish is good – proper steel (S55C high carbon steel according to Engineer), not the steel-plated-cheese that most cheap Chinese tools are fabricated from, the handles are solid & comfortable.

Handles
Handles

The rubber handles are press-fit onto the steel frame arms of the pliers, and don’t slip off readily.

Die Head
Die Head

The dies are well formed in the steel, and seem to be machined rather than stamped on a press, however the black oxide finish hides any machining marks. The smallest 1mm dies do seem to be a little fragile as they’re so small, so wouldn’t take much abuse without shearing off.

Crimped Molex KK Pin
Crimped Molex KK Pin

Here’s a Molex KK pin that’s been crimped with the PA-09. The insulation crimp has pierced the insulation slightly, but this isn’t much of a problem. The conductor crimp is nice & tight, and everything is small enough to fit correctly into the plastic connector body. The trick with these tools is getting a feel for when the crimp is done – squeeze too tightly & the contact deforms, not tightly enough & the wire will just pull out of the terminal. The official tools also crimp both the conductor & insulation at the same time, and they also hold the terminal in place while the wire is inserted. In these cheaper tools, the crimps are done separately, but they do hold on to the contact securely enough for the wire to be inserted properly with your spare hand.

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Tenma DMM Drivers & PC Software

My new DMM I posted about a while back came with PC software & drivers for the RS-232 interface, on a CD. I haven’t used CDs for some time, so I had to dig out my USB drive.

The Tenma website doesn’t list the software for all their models, so to help others I’m posting an archive of all the supplied drivers here. The archive contains software & drivers for the following Tenma models:

Tenma Multimeter Drivers (783 downloads)

Tenma 72-1015
Tenma 72-1016
Tenma 72-1020
Tenma 72-2610
Tenma 72-2620
Tenma 72-7712
Tenma 72-7715
Tenma 72-7730
Tenma 72-7730A
Tenma 72-7732
Tenma 72-7732A
Tenma 72-7735
Tenma 72-7745
Tenma 72-7750
Tenma 72-7755
Tenma 72-7760
Tenma 72-7790
Tenma 72-8400
Tenma 72-8720
Tenma 72-9280
Tenma 72-9380
Tenma 72-9380A
Tenma 72-9405
Tenma 72-9490
Tenma 72-10405
Tenma 72-10410
Tenma 72-10415
Tenma 72-10440
Tenma 72-10445
Tenma 72-10465

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Tool Review – eBay Ratchet Cable Cutters

Ratchet Cable Cutters
Ratchet Cable Cutters

For the latest big project, replacing the battery bank on the boat with 5 brand new 200Ah Yuasa heavy duty flooded lead acids, I’m going to need to make many short links from heavy battery cable to connect all 5 batteries into a parallel bank.
Cutting cable as big in diameter as a good sized thumb is difficult at best. In the past I’ve used a hacksaw, but it doesn’t do a very clean job, especially as the cut nears the end – strands get ripped from the cable by the relatively coarse blade & this reduces the current carrying capacity.
Over to eBay again netted a pair of ratchet-type heavy duty cable cutters for £30. These are rated to cut cable up to 240mm² or 600MCM.

Cutting Jaws
Cutting Jaws

The cutting head on these snips is massive – cutting through cable up to 35mm in diameter takes some force. The ratchet mechanism is used to get a large mechanical advantage to force the cutters through the copper, without having to resort to more expensive & complex mechanisms such as hydraulics. (Hydraulic cable cutters do exist, but cost a small fortune & are totally over-rated for the job).

Overall the tool seems to be well made, the handles are Vinyl dipped to make them more comfortable, which certainly helps when applying a large amount of force. Running a file over the cutters themselves reveals they’re actually hardened – unusual for cheapo Chinese tools.