How to use the grey bitsnaps to make your own bit

The grey bitsnaps are very handy when you want to design and use your own bits in combination with existing bits.
Also when you damage a bit these grey bitsnaps can be used for repair. (see the last item)…

They are however not very easy to handle and in this forum topic I like to share with you some of the things I experienced during my “adventure” with these bitsnaps from the hardware development kit.
(as also discussed with @Philip_Verbeek)

The perfboard:
A standard 0.1” perf board with isolated circular copper soldering islands can be used. If you want to make your home made bit with the same dimensions as the existing bits, first pick one of the possible designs. There are a few different dimensions, for example: small (the latch bit), medium (the oscillator) or large (the sequencer). The only tools I used to make this perfboard part are a jigsaw and a small file. Remove a rectangular part from each corner with the following dimensions:

The bitsnaps must be firmly secured on the perfboard, do not make the board edges too small. If they are too small, the bitsnap will still wriggle after soldering.

Mechanical connection:
The two plastic pins left and right of the three electrical connections are used for mechanical fixation of the bitsnap on the perfboard after soldering. Just melt them with your soldering iron into the perfboard holes.
These two plastic pins are a bit thicker than the inner dimensions of the perfboard holes, so I used a small drill with a power tool to enlarge these holes a little.
I found that the plastic pins of the grey output bitsnap are NOT in line with the connections, and those from the input grey bitsnap are in line:
See this picture: (the top bit is the output bit and the lower one is the input bit).

The copper circular islands from the perfboard are rather small and can easily be separated from the board during soldering.
To avoid this and to make a more secure connection, I added an additional wire connection in front of each soldering point:

Repairing a normal bit:
Once upon a time I left a bit on the floor and ran over it with my chair. :scream:
Both bitsnaps were completely bent and partly separated and the electrical connections were pulled off the board. I removed the damaged parts and replaced them with grey bitsnaps.
The through hole soldering connections of the board were not damaged and after removing the original solder with a vacuum desoldering tool I could easily mount the grey bitsnaps:

Last note on my adventure:
It is a real challenge to remove a grey bitsnap once it is mounted on a perfboard.
I could not do this quick enough, the bitsnap started to melt and one of connections was pulled out and the small spring mounted connection fell apart so the whole part became useless.


Hi @alexpikkert, great explanation. Thanks !

Please let me add one point. As the two plastic pins are not inline with the rest of the pins, and are also thicker than a normal hole would be, I just cut them off. Very radical, I know. To give the bit snap some hold on the PCB, I just glued them to it. Once again quite drastic, but you can’t remove them anyway.

Your explanation should help all the inventors to create more new bits. Thanks again.


Nice cutting on the perf board @alexpikkert! I like your solution to wiring it up! I have lost one gray bitSnap myself, also trying to remove it, or rather, reposition it.

Hey @SeventhDwarf, I melt in the plastic position pins, solder the contacts, AND glue them to my boards! Even though the position pins are not aligned with the contacts, I find that a bit of enlarging of regular sized holes by running the drill in and out of them at an angle, is enough to fit everything in. If it’s snug enough, it just fits and holds without any soldering, melting or glue.

By the way, I use a drop of liquid superglue (the gel doesn’t seem in-between) on the inside edge of the bitSnap holds it in place rigidly.

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Hi @SeventhDwarf and @chris101,
It looks all easy, but I learned managing the grey bitsnaps the hard way…
I bought 2 HDK sets, so I had 24 bitsnaps.
Until today I used 6 of them (on the led strip connector and the power meter and the repaired slide dimmer) and still have 11 pieces in storage.
So I waisted 7 bitsnaps, mostly by trying to relocate them or soldering too long… :joy:
I salvaged the minimagnets however for future use in projects… :grinning:

Hey @alexpikkert,

This write up is great. Thanks a lot. I definitely can use it in future projects.

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