Typical methods on tapping onto some board's hole-less pins/contacts

Hey guys,

It could be a simple question, but I could use your ideas. A bit of the context

Below is the picture of the inside of the GBA cartridge,

And these cartridges are TINY

The cartridge is just an example, I’m not dealing with one. But suppose we are dealing with something this tiny, and we wanna tap/hotwire (whichever is the more applicate term) onto its pins. Notice, its pins don’t have any holes for the wires to go.

In this case, what would be possibly ways to accomplish this? I can think of several strategies and ideas,

  1. (For something as standard as a GBA cartridge, obviously wouldn’t work for something obscure) find and order a GBA cartridge breakout module.

This will work for something standard, but what if we deal with something nonstandard?

  1. Fix cartridge in place, buy extremely tiny jumper wires and connect them to pins.

** If this realistically possible? **

  1. Same as 2, but solder them

** If there a way to do so without shorting the board? For something this tiny? **

So I wonder if anyone can give me some other ideas.

One other thing I thought of: do there exist some typoe of the jumper wires that stick to the metal? It could be silly, but I wonder.

Thanks for the input


Something like this? Probably not the best option for very fine work. Soldering is limited only by size of the solder tip and wires, and steadiness of hand. It is possible to solder to the pins of a SMD like the one in your photo, although if you need to solder two adjacent pads it becomes very difficult to stop the solder from bridging. Often the connection is easier somewhere else on the trace - in your example it is likely that many of the pins are available at the edge connector.


Hi Tim, Welcome to the forum,

I think your train of thought is similar to mine. If the connection you are trying to tap into is the edge of a PCB that is designed for multiple connections into a socket like GBA cartridges, PCI devices, and RAM chips then you are probably best finding the corresponding socket and designing a breakout board of some type utilising that, this will also keep it removable.

You certainly could solder to bare copper terminals on an edge-of-PCB connection but this would be a last resort as:

  1. It’s hard and fiddly
  2. It will no longer be removable
  3. It’s less supported and likely to break under vibration
  4. More likely to damage copper traces

What is your level of experience with soldering? Do you have an example of what you are trying to connect? I understand the GBA cartridge was just hypothetical.


Hi Tim,

Another option to consider might be pogo pins, if you can find some small enough. You might even have to lay them out in a zig-zag fashion in order to cram enough on in a tiny space.

Keen to see what you come up with!


Hey Tim,

Just as a little follow-up to Trent’s suggestion there are definitely manufacturers out there who make cartridge breakout boards. I just found this one with a quick Google search.

Obviously, if it’s something different, you will need to find a suitable socket, however, if it’s quite a niche connector you might have some difficulties finding a prebuilt one. There would very likely be a matching socket out there, however it may require some DIY on your end.

If you have some details on a specific connector you were wanting to use we can try and make some suggestions to get you started!

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Hey Tim,

Finding the traces in a PCB is definitely something that is explored in phone and laptop repair sometimes. I would have a dig around YouTube to see if you can find anything in that realm.
But rather than trying to source the connector itself, I reckon it would be easier finding an old console that doesn’t work anymore and desoldering/tapping into that boards pins.

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Hi Tim
I think James idea of Pogo Pins or that type of thing would be the go. The ones with points may be best I believe this sort of spring contact comes in different sizes etc you will have to research to find what suits your situation.
I WOULD NOT solder anything to the contact strips as you could well introduce connector problems when you plug it back in. There is a reason for the gold plating.
Cheers Bob