Bending Right Angle Headers

Thread Starter

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
6,521
How risky is it to bend the pins on a right angle header, to convert it to a straight header? Should I try it, or go right to buying a de-soldering iron and replacing the header? It is a wireless RF module, that fits my project case, etc... better if the header was straight in.

A good pair of needle nose pliers and gentle bending is how I would approach it. I could also drill the end of s chop stick and use it to gain leverage, maybe? or a piece of brass tubing, but I no longer have a source locally for this
.
1096-05.png

I dislike de-soldering with wick. I am successful at it, after a few attempts. It seems like a lot of work, that a de-soldering iron would eliminate. I have the straight header...
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
20,920
The ones I have bent with needle nose bend nice and sharp with just the single pair, it seemed harder copper/alloy than I would have expected.
But that was bending not straitening!
I suspect If I tried straitening it might kink?
Max.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,776
I have done that many times, usually just to get the longer pins, but not always. Needle nose pliers will work; however, I use a small drill press vise like this:
upload_2016-4-23_12-53-30.png

Remember, the bend in the pin is probably work hardened, so bending it back to straight may not work as well as you want it to. Putting it in the vise and squeezing on the bend and long leg will give a nice, controller "unbending." As an alternative, vise grips (smooth jaw preferred) should also work for pressing the bend.

John
 

SLK001

Joined Nov 29, 2011
1,548
The pins aren't work hardened, but just hardened. If you bend them the 90° required to straighten them, you will most likely fracture them. Best to go the "buy the right part" route.

One more thing: Put the board in a holder/vice and try putting a lot of solder on the pins on the back (bridge all the pins), then use your soldering iron to slide back and forth through the solder while you pull the header out from the other side. Once the header is out, clean out the holes with your wick.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,776
The pins aren't work hardened, but just hardened. If you bend them the 90° required to straighten them, you will most likely fracture them.
NOT! I have bent many pins and have never broke or even stress fractured a single one. Are you writing from real experience or theory?

John
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
20,920
I took a file to one old one I have here and they appear to be brass, not hardened copper as I first suspected, hence the apparent hardness.
Max.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
20,920
In a case like the ones in the pic, it may be tricky when unable to grasp both sides of the bend?
Unless as john said, you get the whole bend in the vise.
The pins aren't work hardened, but just hardened
The act of bending, work hardens.
Max.
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
8,012
How risky is it to bend the pins on a right angle header, to convert it to a straight header? Should I try it, or go right to buying a de-soldering iron and replacing the header? It is a wireless RF module, that fits my project case, etc... better if the header was straight in.

A good pair of needle nose pliers and gentle bending is how I would approach it. I could also drill the end of s chop stick and use it to gain leverage, maybe? or a piece of brass tubing, but I no longer have a source locally for this
.
View attachment 104897

I dislike de-soldering with wick. I am successful at it, after a few attempts. It seems like a lot of work, that a de-soldering iron would eliminate. I have the straight header...
Bend them slowly and get them right the first time (or consider them to be right enough after the first attempt). Cracking happens when you bend them back or get too anal about getting them perfectly straight. I've done it a dozen times and we even relied on a row of straightened pins for a robotics competition. The bot is still running today. You'll be fine. If you are not fine, you just remove broken pins instead of right-angle pins before you install new straight pins.
 

Thread Starter

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
6,521
The ones I have bent with needle nose bend nice and sharp with just the single pair, it seemed harder copper/alloy than I would have expected.
But that was bending not straitening!
I suspect If I tried straitening it might kink?
Max.
"Just the single pair" means...? If I attempt to bend one pin at a time, is the greater than 50% chance that it will work? 75%?

Thanks to those who reminded me that I have naught to lose by trying...
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,776
If you squeeze with a vise or vise grips, your success rate will be approximately 100%. If you use pliers and press on the bends, maybe a little less. If you use long nose pliers, you may end up with an S-bend or destroy the plastic. I am guessing your success rate will be 95% or better, depending on how much of a perfectionist you are.

John
 

Marcus2012

Joined Feb 22, 2015
383
Try using a piece of unused stripboard. Place the whole header into a row on the edge of the stripboard and use the board to gently lever it along its bend radius. It'll help retain it's correct pitch that way.
 

Marcus2012

Joined Feb 22, 2015
383
If you squeeze with a vise or vise grips, your success rate will be approximately 100%. If you use pliers and press on the bends, maybe a little less. If you use long nose pliers, you may end up with an S-bend or destroy the plastic. I am guessing your success rate will be 95% or better, depending on how much of a perfectionist you are.

John
I would advice against using a vice for a small PCB like this. The vice jaws can mangle brass and you won't be able to get the piece far enough inside the jaws without damaging adjacent components.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,776
The example of vise I gave has smooth, ground jaws and is only about 2" wide. I have straightened many pins with it. And, when I am out of headers with long pins on both sides, i.e., for coupling female connectors, I take a right-angle header and straighten its pins. Never had a failure.

Of course, nothing is fool proof.

John
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
8,012
Just get a big-ass linemens pliers and put the whole angled connector in the jaws and squeeze. If it feels right, it's working. Metal is like a young kid - mailable, and does what you tell him if you are firm and concise.
 

tracecom

Joined Apr 16, 2010
3,944
How risky is it to bend the pins on a right angle header, to convert it to a straight header? Should I try it, or go right to buying a de-soldering iron and replacing the header? It is a wireless RF module, that fits my project case, etc... better if the header was straight in.

A good pair of needle nose pliers and gentle bending is how I would approach it. I could also drill the end of s chop stick and use it to gain leverage, maybe? or a piece of brass tubing, but I no longer have a source locally for this
.
View attachment 104897

I dislike de-soldering with wick. I am successful at it, after a few attempts. It seems like a lot of work, that a de-soldering iron would eliminate. I have the straight header...
You don't have to have a desoldering iron. Take your smallest wire cutters and snip the plastic between each pin. Then, heat the pins one at a time and pull them out. Use the solder sucker to vacuum the holes. Solder the straight header in place. Easier to do than to describe.
 

SLK001

Joined Nov 29, 2011
1,548
NOT! I have bent many pins and have never broke or even stress fractured a single one. Are you writing from real experience or theory?

John
Depends on the construction. Some are made of phospher bronze, which once set, is extremely resistant to bending. Lesser quality headers have pins made out of brass. Brass, on the other hand, will bend quite easily.
 

Thread Starter

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
6,521
As this is a Chinese module, I suspect they are made of brass.

As Max and others noted, straightening is likely but there may be a kink.

A kink is ok. As long as there is sufficient length for the female socket to grab on too, I'm not worried about a kink. My goal is not so much about straightening them as it is changing their orientation or direction.
 
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