Making Your Own Battery Cables

The Basics:

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1. Getting Started

1. First, About Safety: Please use Safety Glasses since you will be hammering a punch and metal could get in you eye. Second, you will be using a heat gun. Be careful not to burn yourself.



2. The Tools

2. Collect all the tools you need together on a clean flat surface.
3. Safety Glasses: Use glasses with Z87.1 Lenses
4. Razor Knife: for removing insulation & cutting the cable.
4. Cable: in this example we are using 2/0.
5. Lug: Use Copper or Tinned Copper.
6. Hammer: for crimping the lug.
7. Punch: for crimping the lug. The tip of the punch I use is blunt, not sharp. You can also use a commercial lug crimper like pictured below.
8. Scissors: for cutting the shrink tube.
9. Shrink Tube: be sure to use thick-walled tube -or- adhesive / hot-glue lined thick-walled tube.

3. Inserting the Cable into the Lug

10. Cut the 2/0 Cable to the length you desire. The use the razor knife and rotate the cable in your hand while pressing the cable against the blade, but be careful! Keep in mind the lugs will add a couple of inches of overall length to the cable.
11. A cut with a sharp knife will help keep all the strands together.
12. Cut the insulation around the cable, be careful not to cut the strands of wire.
13. Double-check the length of the strands.
14. Angle the wire into the lug (hopefully, it is flared).
15. Keep all the strands together as the cable is inserted into the lug.
16. Leave no strand behind, or trim them with the razor knife.

4. Crimping the Lug onto the Cable

17. Carefully lay the Lug and cable on a hard flat surface (use a vise, anvil or a concrete floor).
18. Before you crimp the lug, be sure to align the lug to match to the other end. Notice how on both ends of the cable, the lug is flat against the table. You can also match a required angle for the best fit. This large cable cannot twist so easily and over time, a twisted cable can strain a battery terminal trying to twist back...
19. Hammer the punch into the lug crimping the cable tight into the lug. To test the strength, move the lug back and forth. It should not move, if it does hammer some more!
20. The Punch Mark should not be so deep to break the copper open at the punch mark.
21. Commercial crimping tools compress the lug on multiple sides. For that, they are highly recommended.

5. Applying Shrink Tube

22. I recommend using thick wall adhesive lined tubing or double layers of standard shrink tube. Apply the first layer of shrink tube to cover the joint between the cable insulation and the copper lug.
23. Apply the second layer to seal the first piece.
24. Don't over heat the shrink tube or the cable insulation.
25. A hair dryer, or a BIC Flame Stick can be substituted for a heat gun.

6. Testing the Connection

26. Normally cable crimps might be tested for quality construction. I will not go into the testing details, other than to mention:
  > High Current Test detecting Voltage Drop
  > Pull Strength Test to verify crimp
...are all valid test to verify cable quality...
27. Enjoy your custom made cables...

7. Got Questions

28. Send Questions and Comments to Maverick Solar Thanks for your attention! I hope you did not see so many Shamrocks, that you are nearly blinded by them...

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Updated: July 02, 2010