Makerbot Replicator X Axis Ribbon Cable Upgrade

I’ve been the happy owner of a Makerbot Replicator for almost a year now. But I’ve started running into repeated problems with the X axis motor. Well not the motor itself, but the wiring harness that goes to it. The wires go through some flexing with every movement of the Y axis and with enough flexing, the copper starts to work harden and break. It’s definitely repairable but requires patience to find the break and the finesse to re-solder it and patch it up well enough.

My solution is to use a wire that’s meant to take a few million bends; A Printer’s ribbon cable.

The donor for this project was an old inkjet printer that had been relegated to the garage for the past 2 years. Inside was a 22 conductor ribbon cable, meant to last for thousands of pages and millions of flexes.

The conversion


The Ribbon is essentially flat copper conductors sandwiched between a plastic support, so soldering to the pads on either end is a bit of a challenge. For this attempt, I cut the wire down to 10 conductors and soldered 5 pairs of ends together while pinned flat to my workbench.

Makerbot Ribbon Cable 2




Once everything was soldered together and I amazingly enough did not have to use my spare 5th conductor I taped up the ends of the ribbon cable with some electrical tape to prevent any shorting that might occur.

Makerbot Ribbon Cable 3



The cable seemed to be just the right width to place into the original holders for the wiring harness. I wedged it in place and reinstalled the new hybrid harness. Just a few checks to make sure that I had the proper length that could move and I tucked the remainder of the new and longer cable underneath the machine near the motor drivers.

Makerbot Ribbon Cable 4


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