How to program sensor board without soldering on the headers

IC Hooks on the board

We have been working on KikSense sensors for some time now. We went through many iterations of various components, trying to get our sensor smaller, and more feature-rich.

While the details vary, the typical sensor is SoC – System on a Chip. This means that it is a tiny computer, with its own CPU and memory, that can be programmed to do things we need to do. The way to program SoC is to connect it to the computer via cable and then install binary version of the program.

The problem is that cable has to connect to something on the board. This job usually falls on headers: tiny metal pins that are soldered to the board (like these ones, for example):

Break Away Headers to connect board to the computer

There are several problems with them. They must be soldered on. They always stick out and prick our fingers. They make it hard to pack sensors into an enclosure. They are just very onerous!

When we went to the Denver Startup Week, we have asked all the hardware vendors in sight for the solution. Amazingly, no one had an answer. So, we decided to solve it ourselves. After copious Googling and checking various sources the solution presented itself: IC Hooks!

IC hooks have a tiny retractable spring-loaded metal hook at the end of a long plastic tube. On the other end, they can be soldered to any type of wire to be connected to the computer or any other device.

And they are colorful! Other than pleasing the eye, color is very helpful to connect proper hook to the board.

Now, to program the board, we just connect IC hooks’ pigtail (a scientific term) to the USB cable and latch on tiny hooks on the holes in the board. The connection is very secure and easy to unhook, if needed.

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