Ask Hackaday: Bitten by the Crocodile Clip

I have a love/hate relationship with the crocodile clip. Nothing is so quick to lash together a few half-baked prototype boards on your desk, but nothing ends up in such a tangle so quickly, either. I love the range of pretty colors that crocodiles come in, as well as the easy ability to just clip on to the side of a PCB, or any old loose wire. But they come loose, they can have intermittent contacts, and we’re not even sure if there is such a thing as a current rating for them.

When [WarriorRocker] wrote in asking what we use instead of crocodile clips, he included a photo that sent a chill down my spine, from a review of some clips on Amazon. I’ve seen this one in real life. And what’s worse is the one with the loose wires that sometimes make contact with the spring-clip body and sometimes not.

After an hour-long debugging session about twelve years ago now, such an intermittent croc caused us to make a lifelong vow. All of our croco-clips have been disassembled, manually inspected, and many of them soldered together. When I buy new ones, I check them all before mixing them in with the known-goods. Even thinking about this now makes me want to pull back their little rubber booties just to make sure.

But intermittents are not the only source of trouble. How thick is the wire inside your crocs? Are you sure that it’s beefy enough to take the current you’re passing through it? Are you sure the pointy teeth are making enough contact with whatever you’re clipping them to? Of course not. How would you be?

So we’re passing [WarriorRocker]’s questions on to you. Do you have any rules of thumb for how much current to pass through crocodile clips? What do you clip them to and what do you avoid? How do you manage the tangle? Do you just trust them when they come from the factory or have you been bitten too? What alternatives have you considered, and how’s it working? Or is there some ultra-premium crocodile clip manufacturer out there that lets us trade off pain for mere money?

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