xConnect: I was wrong, and I admit it…

Last year, I wrote a post about how there is no reason to use “proprietary” connectors like xConnect over the JST connectors that most bulk pixels already come with. I still believe JST connectors with a dab of dielectric grease are perfectly fine for joining strings of pixels together in props, or mid-strip on a tree, and that is what I am still doing.

At the time- I had purchased a bunch of “LED Connectors” from China that I thought were xConnect, because the connector itself looked like all of the pictures online, and the pinouts were the same. So- I got them in and used them for some of my props. I disliked them- because they were small and “fidgety” to work with, and I didn’t feel they would hold up very well over time. I also questioned whether or not they were safe to use because of the very-very thin wire and poor construction of the connectors themselves. As I moved on to other builds, I decided that the JST connectors with some dielectric grease were a better-safer option, and in-fact many people reported that they use JSTs successfully on some of the Pixel forums I’m on.

This year, while working on designing our Mega-Tree, I wanted to use something other than the JSTs at the top and bottom of each strip, because I want to be able to easily disassemble it and re-assemble it each year, and frankly- dielectric grease gets to be a bit messy. So- I decided to order some xConnect pigtails from Wired Watts, thinking they would be the same as the ones I got from China last year, but hoping maybe they would just be better quality.

Well, I figure a picture is worth 1000 words (or at least 100 in this case). Here are two:

So, what I thought were xConnects are about half the size overall with significantly thinner wires and pins. The connectors themselves are also poorly made and don’t seal well. What is particularly aggravating is the way the female conductors actually come out enough from the connector to make contact before the keyed part of the connector is even seated, which means if your circuit is live- you can fry pixels or a controller if you accidentally press the connectors together without them being keyed properly. The key itself is so small, and “fidgety” as I’ve described it before, that it is fairly easy to connect them without it even being engaged properly, again resulting in the potential for damage.

So- that’s why I was “against” these “proprietary” connectors.

Obviously I was wrong. The REAL xConnect connectors are well-built with larger pins/connections and larger conductors. They also key together easily, and the female connections are recessed so there is little chance of a crossed connection while assembling them. The O-rings are substantial, and I’m confident they seal properly.

So- yes, I recommend them now for connections between props, tree strands, or to controllers. I’m still not a fan of wasting money on custom strings and cables with them, and I don’t like lock-ins to specific vendors who use variations of xConnect for their pixels. That said- I just ordered another box of real xConnects from Wired Watts to use for additional props we are working on. 🙂