Identify Electrical Connectors

Updated 28 February 2023

Symbols for Male and Female ConnectorsThere are a ton of electrical wire connectors, too many to elaborate on in a single guide, however there are a couple of connectors that as a maker you will come across. Often when starting your way into the electronics world all you need is the right connector piece to put 'hardware 1' to 'hardware 2'. But if you do not know the name of the connector you end up completely stumped as your unable to source it. Connectors rarely if ever have their name written on them so you end up searching high and low just to figure it out. For someone in this position this page should serve as a good reference point, somewhere you can quickly come to see an image of your connector and thus quickly figure out the name.

This guide will enable quick identification of connectors, provide their regular purposes and highlight any special features. Below is an overview for all the connectors in this guide.

The International Electrotechnical Commission organises the standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies almost worldwide. Just take a moment to appreciate the extensive list of International Standards created by this organisation. 

There is a great tutorial on our website on making and crimping connectors which can be found at this location. There is also a deep dive on each connector JST makes which can be found at this location as there are several different sizes.

Report Linker estimates that the global connector market will reach an estimated $80.4 billion USD by 2023. Thus undoubtedly there will be gaps below, if you have any questions, queries or connectors to add please let me know your thoughts!

JST Connectors

Japanese Solderless Terminal, also referred to as JST, is manufactured by a Japanese company of the same name. The JST system is primarily designed to bridge electrical connections or carry an electrical signal. Do not recommend utilising them in applications where the connector is under considerable stresses or forces. Often you find them attached to batteries, motors and circuit boards. This is an inexpensive and reliable connector type.

The only issue with JST is the confusing naming scheme that often has hobbyists chasing their tails with connectors ending up .05mm too big or small for their needs. There is a deep dive on what exactly a JST connector is and the many different types which can be found at this location. Check out this kit for all the JST connectors a maker's big heart could desire. Also as an interesting fact, our PiccoDev Connectors are a 4-wire harness with 1mm pitch SH JST connectors at each end.  Below is an image of some common types of JST connectors that exist. 

Common way to see JST connectors labelled and commonly seen types of JST connectors

JST connectors are mostly identified by the length between one contanct to the centre of another contact. There are always between two to higher contacts in a single line. Some families have multiple rows as well. This length is the pitch of the connector type and determines the family that the connector is a part off. For example connector in the family 'PH' all have a 2.00mm pitch. When identifying what particular connector you have determine this pitch value first. Next, you need to determine the shape and size of the housing. See below for an expansive table with images and general application of all families of this connector type. Note here the * in reference to the XH-JST Connectors, some manufacturers will use 2.54 and 2.5mm pitch interchangeably with connectors with less than 4 pins. Know however the JST standard is to always use the metric system.

Table of all JST connectors with images

DuPont Connectors

Great for plugging into GPIO pins as they fill the space whilst giving enough room for other ones to fit in. Excellent wire to board connection. They create a very sturdy connection and can come in multiple different sizes. Larger sizes have more connections.

If you want a whole bunch of GPIO DuPont Style connectors just check out this 100 pack.

DuPont Connectors

Molex Connectors

Regularly seen in automotive applications the larger connects are very durable. The larger ones are all fairly water resistant as well and they all lock into place. When these connect together it is really very nice and satisfying.

Also the PicoBlade is an excellent Molex connector for small and reliable connection. For when 0.1 inch is too big and JST PH connectors are too chunky, the ultra-slim PicoBlade is the way to go. They are only 1.25mm pitch but retain a satisfying and sturdy click connection.

Check out this for a Molex jumper 6 wire assembly.

MOLEX Connectors

Below is a big table of all the Molex connector families avaliable. There are also some sealed molex connector families which you can find in the next table below or on the Molex website.

A whole bunch of Molex!

All Molex sealed connectors families can be seen below.

Molex Sealed Connectors

ATX Connectors

Regularly seen in as connectors inside computers connecting the power supply to a ATX style motherboard. Also made by Molex these a quite durable and last a long time and because of their prolific use they have their own section. Molex makes three different version, 4-pin, 20-pin and 24-pin. I have also seen older 8-pin to 12-pin versions, 4+4 pin to 12 Volt versions, 6+2 pin to PCI Express power cable and some more peculiar PSU connectors to ATX. For a deep cut on these connectors check out this page.

Want a right-angled ATX power supply connecter? Look no further Core Electronics has your back.

ATX Connectors

SWD Connectors 

Regularly seen on microprocessors and microcontrollers. These connectors tend to attach to ribbons cables. These little ribbon cables and connectors are handy when programming or debugging a tiny board that uses 10-pin 0.05-inch pitch SWD programming connectors. This means the connector is good for many JTAG applications. JTAG is an industry standard for verifying designs and testing printed circuit boards after manufacture.

Both male and female SWD connectors can be seen below. Check out the SWD connector here and the SWD cable here.

SWD Connectors

Also below is a nifty JTAG (2x10 2.54mm) to SWD (2x5 1.27mm) Cable Adapter Board.

JTAG to SWD Adapter Board

Dean Connectors

Referred to as a T connectors or mini T connectors, these connectors are good for medium wire diameter and sturdy connections. Regularly seen as a connector between lipo batteries and radio control hobbyists systems such as quadcopters. They are quite rugged connections and like very much to stay together. When soldering this connector to wires they tend to heat up very quickly and this leads to the plastic case warping if care is not taken.

Want some Dean connects check it out here. Each pack comes with one male and one female Deans connector and each can support a current of, up to, 30A.

Dean Style Connectors

XT60, XT30 and XT90 Connectors

The XT60 are also regularly seen as a lipo battery connector as they allow for very high current draw. Also regularly seen in industry and worksites. There is a normal and locking version. They come in yellow, black and the rarely seen blue. Very rugged design and lets a huge amount current through them considering their size. There is also the XT30, a smaller scaled down variant of this connector, and the XT90, a larger scaled up varient of this connector.

These connectors are made from high-temp nylon with gold-plated spring pins or sockets moulded in. This means when you solder them to wires they do not melt. The shape of the casing of the XT60 connector prevents reverse polarity and when plugged in the connection is super-solid. Perfect for applications up to 65A continuous draw.

Usually sold in pairs of 1 male and 1 female connector just check out the XT60 connectors at this location for more.

XT60 Connectors

Screw Terminal Block

Non-fused terminal blocks are modular, screw-type electrical connectors used to connect two or more wires together. They come in many pin amounts and different pitches (usually 5mm or 0.1 inch).  The wires are usually clamped down to the metal part by a screw giving a study connection. Some also make it very easy to connect to protoboards or breadboards. See the image below for examples of these Screw Terminal Blocks.

Terminal Block Connector

DC Power Connectors (Coaxial Power Connectors)

The traditional way of getting DC electricity from the wall outlet into your devices. Check out a 12v DC 2amp plug pack here. It will have an connecting plug similar to that seen below left. Coaxial power connectors have a great Wikipedia article which dives into the standards and regulations found here. That Wikipedia article is also a great way to identify some of the variations of coaxial power connectors. Depending on the voltage and current draw the diameter of the plug can be larger or smaller than the most commonly seen 2.1mm diameter. 

The connector below centre adapts a 5.5 × 2.1 mm DC barrel plug to a pair of screw terminals spaced approximately 5 mm apart. The terminals are labelled positive and negative, with the positive terminal connecting to the centre contact. Check it out here.

This DC power jack/connector is just like previous except that it is terminated with breadboard-friendly pins instead of wide solder terminals. This can be seen below on the right. These are compatible with our DC wall supplies and have a 5mm jack, with a 2.1mm centre pole diameter. Perfect for energising PCB boards for some serious prototyping. Check it out here.  

DC Power Connectors

AC Power Connectors

The traditional way of getting AC electricity from the wall outlet into your devices. There is two standard types of connecting ends which are seen below and all over the place in the real world. One that you see all the time connecting into the back of the PC to give power to the power supply of the computer. The other seen regularly on charging devices for lithium polymer batteries. See below for the two types with an Australia socket outlet. Want something like the one on the left look no further Core Electronics has your back. Now there is a large amount of variety of household AC connectors in regards to shape and size for applications under 240 volts and less than 16 amps. The IEC6320 standard governs these connectors and the Wikipedia page absolutely kills in when it comes to distinguishing each type.

AC Connectors

Anderson Powerpole Connectors

Another worthy connector has been brought to my attention and thus we have this new section in the Identify Connectors guide. Below are images of Anderson Powerpole Connectors. The smaller ones are often used in Hobby RC Applications and the larger versions are very capable of transferring substantial electrical loads. They only fit together one way. They require a small metal piece that gets crimped to the wire which is then pushed into and encased by the outside of the Anderson connector.

Anderson Powerpole Connectors
The Different Colours are indicative of how much voltage and current these connectors can safely manage. For the larger multipole design, which is available in up to 700 A sizes, each colour is physically keyed so as to mate only with a like coloured connector. Anderson published a list of recommended voltage for each colour, see the table below for an understanding of this. If you start seeing White Anderson Connectors nearby take care. Also next to it shows the different Keying for different colours. Note that the Gray and Black are keyed the same and thus are compatible with each other.


SMA Connectors

SMA connectors are coaxial RF connectors. They find use in microwave systems, hand-held radios, mobile telephone antennas, and WiFi antenna systems. They also find use in radio astronomy. Typically rated from DC (0) to 18GHZ you can find some proprietary versions rated for 26.5GHz! Beyond this frequency range, there are similar-looking connectors but scaled up in dimensions appropriately (and threaded differently) referred to in ascending order as K type, V Type, and W Type SMA connectors.

In the below image you can see, from left to right, an SMA male connector, SMA female connector, RP-SMA female connector, and an RP-SMA male connector. Note the weirdness in the M/F naming conventions, with the outside connection being the determining factor. There are other connectors less commonly used for Radio systems, check them out here.

U.FL Connectors And Derivatives

U.FL is a miniature coaxial RF connector used mainly (almost exclusively) for high-frequency signals. The head manufacturer of them, Hirose, refers to them by the most common name U.FL (often shortened to UFL). However, these connections are also referred to as I-PEX MHF, IPX, IPEX, AMC, or UMCC depending on the manufacturer of the connector. These are good for carrying high-frequency signals up to 6 GHz. The male connectors are usually found in a surface-mounted technology (SMT) form factor and are almost always soldered directly to a PCB (Printed Circuit Board). These are tiny connectors, with the male connection only 2.5mm high and a board footprint of 9mm^2. Understand that these are delicate connections and require some grace when using. They have a very positive ‘Click’ Tactile feel when connected to each other. You can see them being connected and utilised in this guide here.  See an image of these connectors below.

Naturally, Hirose has been further developing this connector and a number of other sizes have emerged. Know that the second most common connector of this type is the W.FL which is smaller than the U.FL. W.FL connectors (often shortened to WFL) are also good from 0 (DC) to 6GHz frequencies. Check the colourful chart below to know all the dimensions and naming conventions of all the connectors of this style that Hirose has released.


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