A wire wrapping tool is a specially designed tool for making wrapped wire connections on a specific type of circuit board. Wrapped wire boards, called stripboards, look like a plastic board covered in small holes. Each of these holes has room for a wire connection. In order to put a wire in one of the holes, the installer needs a wire wrapping tool. There are three types of tools; electric, mechanical and manual tools. Each has certain advantages, and there are situations where each of them is the preferred tool.
Stripboards were a common method of making electronic connection before the invention of printed circuit boards. Since then, their use has dropped significantly in most areas. Even though a stripboard has firmer connections than most printed boards, their cost is also significantly higher. Now, these boards are usually only common in two places, prototype machines and telecommunications.
An electric and a mechanical tool appear very similar. They are shaped like a small gun with a post extension on the tip. In an electric tool, a small motor turns the post. In the mechanical wire wrapping tool, pulling the trigger causes a manual turn on the post. A manual wire wrapping tool is shaped like a pen; essentially, the entire tool is the post on the other two.
An electric tool is the most common style for the initial wire installation. In order to use a mechanical tool, the user threads the wire through the post, inserts it into a special socket and pulls the trigger. The motor quickly and tightly wraps the wire, creating a secure connection. The socket is then plugged into one of the holes on the board. Since an electric wire wrapping tool is so fast, it is generally used on new installations.
A mechanical tool works in nearly the same way as an electric wire wrapping tool. The biggest difference between the two is in the force and speed applied to the wrap. Since the mechanical tool uses hand pressure to create the wrap, a varying amount of force can be placed on a connection. On the other hand, the shape and mechanics make this tool nearly as fast as the electric version. This type of tool is common when very light adjustments need to be made quickly.
The last type of tool is completely manual. These tools are shaped like metal pens with a narrow post on one end. The actual process of threading the wire is the same, but to wrap it, the user simply spins the tool. This creates a less secure connection than the other tools and takes longer to use. The biggest advantage of a manual tool is its precision; in a complex system, a manual tool may be threaded through several layers of wires to access a specific connection.