Custom Raspberry Pi Camera Cables19 May 2021
Sometimes one just needs a custom flat flex cable. In my case this was a Raspberry Pi Zero camera cable. A quick search told me that flex PCBs have fancy stuff like polyamide stiffeners to make certain parts more … stiff (obviously). This increases the PCBs thickness slightly so connectors are chosen to accomodate that. Flex PCBs are apparently really expensive. Not so much the per-unit price but the base price. PCBway charges about a hundred USD minimum. That’s slightly too expensive for my little test project.
Luckily OSHpark is offering a flex PCB service as well at 10 USD per square inch, exactly twice as expensive as their regular PCBs. Sadly, OSHpark flex PCBs come without stiffeners. Luckily, … I came across this handy tweet. Add a copper area on the backside of the connector part and you’re good. Except that the ZIF connectors used for Pi cameras require 0.3mm thickness.
What worked for me well was adding two layers of Kapton tape (which is basically the same group of chemical compounds as polyamide) and trim the excess with a pair of sharp scissors.
Not pretty but works like a charm.