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I am modifying an electronic device and am unsure of what a certain type of connector would be called. I want to build a custom wiring harness that will attach to the connector. Is it on-topic to take a picture of the connector and post asking what it might be called and/or how to search for it online to purchase the same connector?

Example question (not my actual one): you took a picture of the plastic four-pin connector that powers an older IDE hard drive. You're looking for the answer "4-pin Molex connector".

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi @fdmillion, you could try our chat room for these kinds of questions. \$\endgroup\$ – rdtsc Aug 21 '18 at 22:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Measure pitch of the connector (center-to-center distance between the pins). It's likely that the folks in the chat will ask you about that. You can post a pictures in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Aug 21 '18 at 22:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Because Molex only have one 4 pin connector, right :) \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Aug 22 '18 at 9:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm curious now - let's see it. \$\endgroup\$ – SiHa Aug 22 '18 at 13:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ related: Earlier thread about relative merits of identification question \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Aug 22 '18 at 17:34
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Yes. Look at the tag for examples. Do try to avoid mentioning "where to buy it" because some people are pedantic. A ruler and measurements would help as well.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Would have +1 if you hadn't belittled the very legitimate prohibition against shopping questions. Remove the snide "because some people are pedantic", and I can get behind this answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Aug 22 '18 at 0:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Only 5.769098% of people are pedantic, luckily I'm not one of them. \$\endgroup\$ – user98663 Aug 29 '18 at 14:16
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Personally I don't see much value in such questions, unless they are about something unusual/antique. This site is focused on engineering, not on sourcing/repairs, so identification questions are concomitant at best, plus they have poor searchability and little lasting value.

I would be less inclined to react negatively if I see a genuine effort from the asker:

  • they managed to take an in-focus picture of the part and crop it reasonably
  • they listed features that can be searched for (pin count, pitch, any text printed on the part, etc.) in text form. I would assume they tried to search for those features on their own, which is what one should do before asking. It also makes the question more useful for future readers who will get a chance to find it.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Finding the part number of an existing component is not an unusual situation for an engineer though. Anything from using a poorly documented reference design, to maintaining old products without a proper BOM, to a customer dumping something on you: "I want this". I've encountered all these cases. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Aug 23 '18 at 13:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've actually a couple of times searched for a connector on a search engine image search, and found an image on an EE.SE question that identifies it. \$\endgroup\$ – Tom Carpenter Aug 27 '18 at 19:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another thing the question should include: What circuit is the part used in, including as much of the schematic as possible. \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Aug 29 '18 at 22:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lundin & Tom I'm not saying it's an unusual situation to be in, I just believe this site is not the right place for such questions. For example, I shop for components I need regularly, and if we had shopping questions here I would probably find some of them useful. Yet these reasons are not sufficient to allow such questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitry Grigoryev Aug 30 '18 at 7:24

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