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Making Connections - an Electrical Wiring Session

Teach a Wiring class by having teams wire a small project using pegboard. The wiring on this board is overly complicated but it allows the teams to try out most of the crimp connections and see how they work. Click the thumbnail for a close up of the project board.

This page outlines an example project for teaching a wiring class. You should allow about 1-1/2 hours for the class. It is not practical for every person in the class to make a project. I would recommend that you plan on one project board for every 3 participants.

Suggested Class Outline
(use material from the electric wiring tutorials on this website)

  • Explain the types of wire. Optionally give them a few short pieces of various gauges of wire so they can feel the difference
  • Show the different ways that wires can be connected (twisted, soldered, wire nut, crimp connections)
  • Show other types of connections (terminal blocks, etc.)
  • Demonstrate how to strip wire
  • Demonstrate a wire nut connection
  • Demonstrate how to use a crimper to make a crimp connection
  • Optionally build the Battery Holders and the Clothes Pin light switches
  • Have the teams make the project board. Image: each wire assembly required for project.
  • Conclude with cleanup

Every project board kit requires the following supplies.

  • Pegboard - cut into 4" x 4" (approximately) squares. Plan the size to make efficient use of the larger sheets that you purchase.
  • 20 gauge solid wire cut into 20" lengths (Green in the examples)
  • 20 gauge stranded wire cut into 24" lengths (Blue in the examples) It is not necessary to use both solid and stranded wire. We used it in the class for teams to gain experience in working with the both. If you choose to use only one type of wire then use stranded wire. It is much easier for the teams to manipulate. Different colors are used for the wire simply to make it easier to point out the wire types to the teams.)
  • Small DC Motor (1.5 to 3V)
  • Optional small gear to place on shaft to better see the motor turn
  • Battery Holder (see below for a cheap "C" battery holder) and a "C" battery.
  • Crimp connectors
    • 4 ea ring terminals for #6 bolts
    • 2 ea spade terminals
    • 2 ea female quick connectors
    • 1 ea male quick connectors
    • 1 ea butt connector
  • Clothespin Electrical Switch (See the trainer tips "switches" page for ideas on this)
  • 2 each #6 bolt, nut, washer
  • Christmas tree light (or other light)
  • 2 small (4" to 6") wire ties

Tools Required for each group working on a kit:

  • Wire Strippers
  • Needle nose pliers

Prep Work

  • Cut out pegboard blocks
  • Cut wires to length
  • Cut individual Christmas lights from strands of old Christmas lights. Cut each light from the strand leaving about 1-1/2 to 2" of wire on each bulb. Teams will strip the insulation from the wire to make the connections.
  • Bag up supplies for each kit
  • Prepare a cutting sheet for each kit. This is a full size sheet showing the length of every wire and the connectors that go on them. Teams can use this sheet to measure their wires and to make sure they use the right connectors. Print them in color, laminate them and take them up at the end of the class. Example cutting sheet for this project.
  • Copy a completed project board picture (black and white OK) for teams to take with them in case they are unable to finish the kit in the class

INexpensive "C" battery holder

The battery holder in the picture is for "C" size batteries and is made using film canisters. Since the advent of the digital camera, film canisters are harder to find so you may have to make a few calls to gather up the quantity you need. The canisters need to be the typical film canister with the lid that snaps over the top of the canister and not inside of the canister. Drill a very small hole in the center of the bottom of the canister and in the center of the lid. Strip about 1/2" of insulation off of both ends of two six inch pieces of wire (20 ga stranded or solid). Insert one end of each wire through the holes and bend the inside wires into a loop. Place the C battery with the negative end at the bottom of the canister and snap the lid on. The battery should fit snug enough to hold the wires in place. Click thumbnails below for diagram and a photo.


Other Hints

  • If you have a class of very young team members you may want to cut a few of the wires and make some of the crimp connections so they can complete the board in the class.
  • You may also elect to assemble the battery holder ahead of time.
  • When we taeach this class we make the clothes pin switch in another session at the workshop. If you want to make it as part of this class you will need to put together kits for these switches also.
  • Instructors should have a very good pair of wire strippers and crimpers so they can quickly aid teams that are having problems.
  • An option to putting a small gear on the shaft of the DC motor is to place a small piece of colored tape and make a flap to attach to the motor shaft to make it easier for teams to see the motor shaft turning.
  • Have extra boxes of all the types of crimp connectors because the teams will make mistakes.
  • The twist connection to the solder terminals on the small DC motor is the weakest part of this project because it is very easy for teams to tear off the solder terminals while twisting wire onto the terminals. Optionally you can pre-cut the wires for the motor leads and solder them to the motor before giving the motor to the teams.