Bohemian Biker Blog

Using SAE 2 Pin Connectors

by on Apr.03, 2009, under Application

I thought it best to provide some basic guidance to help the least knowledgeable do-it-yourselfers avoid potential electrical problems.  There’s lots of potential for damage and headaches if care is not taken in carrying out modifications such as these.  Damaging or adversely impacting the dependability of your motorcycle would be counterproductive to say the least.

Learning the basics of electrical theory, and a few installation, troubleshooting, and repair techniques will pay dividends in the future.  I would highly recommend Tracy Martin’s “Motorcycle Electrical Systems – Troubleshooting and Repair” for the novice, as well as those with experience.  You will be more likely to successfully carry out work you can be proud of, and be less likely to have problems either immediately or down the road.   As with many things of this nature, safety and quality are of the utmost importance.

First and foremost is the topic of polarity.  Understanding the polarity of your electrical system circuits is vital.  If the battery tender “pigtail” is properly installed on a motorcycle’s battery, the protected “female” side of the SAE 2-prong connector is the (+) positive “hot” side.  If you think about it…this makes sense in that it is protected from grounding out on metal parts of the bike, etc.  The exposed “male” side of the connector is the (-) negative “ground” side, which you don’t need to worry about grounding out on metal parts.

Attention needs to be paid to maintaining proper polarity throughout the system (circuit).  The center post of the “cigarette lighter” style power port (down inside at the bottom of the socket) is the (+) positive post.  This maintains the polarity required by your 12V chargers and devices.

Two more topics that need to be addressed are the electrical “load” under which you potentially place components of the circuit and “fusing” for protection.  Fuses are introduced into circuits to protect components from the damage that would result if they were to see excessive current loads.

For example, let’s say the power port and wiring you add are rated at a maximum of 5 amps.  Your riding mate shows up with a device needing a charge, as well.  You just happen to have an accessory that plugs into a power port, splitting it into two power ports.  The thing is, the combination of the two results in an amperage draw of more than 5 amps.  Nothing happens immediately, but after a period of time you start to smell something burning…like insulation.

If you were depending on the 7.5 amp fuse in the battery tender pigtail, you weren’t really protecting the components of your system at the maximum 5 amps specified.  You needed to have added a fuse with a value somewhere below 5 amps to afford the needed protection.   There are readily available fuse-holders that facilitate the integration of the proper fuse to your accessory circuit.

Beyond what we have covered above, the capacity of your motorcycle’s electrical system needs to be taken into consideration, as well.  This capacity is a function of the motorcycle’s battery and charging system parameters.

Your motorcycle may, or may not be built with capacity (measured in watts) in excess of what it needs to run all the electrical loads it has onboard when it is manufactured.  Therefore, it may or may not have excess capacity available for added accessories.  It may take some research to determine if your particular model has any excess capacity, and if so, how much.  That parameter becomes a limit that needs to be kept in mind when entertaining the idea of adding loads.

Another aspect of this type of modification that needs to be discussed is workmanship.  The dependability of your motorcycle’s electrical system is directly impacted by the integrity of the modifications you make.  In other words, if your wiring and electrical connections are sloppy and subject to shorting, you very well may suffer the consequences.  Good soldered joints and the careful application of heat shrinkable tubing and electrical tape for insulation and protection will pay off.  Keeping your added wiring neat and orderly will pay off, as well.  Nobody likes to troubleshoot and attempt to repair a sloppy wiring job.

Keeping your portable electrical cables and components neatly packed in a protective case is a wise move.  Not only will this keep them together and easily found, it will protect them from damage which could lead to shorts and malfunctions, as well.  Avoid exposing your cables and wires to the potential for damage to the insulation and protective coverings.  Conductors exposed by damage have a way of bringing attention to themselves in a way that leaves you with additional repairs to make, often at inconvenient times.

Hopefully, the above information will be found informative and useful !

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