A Connector is an electro-mechanical device whose job is to connect or disconnect a circuit path. Connectors are made of different materials based on their functions. They come in different shapes, sizes, qualities, and complexities. All the physical attributes of different Connector types are mostly based on their functions. Due to which not all Connectors are the same in terms of mating type, durability, ease of connection, etc. Since most of the Connectors have to work in harsh conditions, their design should incorporate conditions such as high temperature, water, dirt, vibrations, etc.
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The image shows different types of Connectors used to connect electrical circuits.
In today's world, there are a lot of different Connector types that we can use in a lot of various applications. Some Connectors are made for single use whereas some are made for permanent connections. Therefore, there are different types of Connectors available in today's markets, and you need to understand them and use them in your day-to-day life.
Manufactured Connectors have two main parts, which are called housing and terminals. The terminals are the pins that protrude out and are used to transfer electric signals between two components. It is always made up of a material that can conduct electricity. The housing is the outside shell or coating over the terminal pins. Its main job is to hold the terminal pins in place, and also protect it from short-circuiting and from external conditions. It is made up of a material that does not conduct electricity, for example, moulded plastic. It can also be made from insulating materials such as ceramics. We will now look at different types of Connectors.
Types of Connectors and Applications
Every Connector has a male-end called plugs, and a female-end called jacks. There is a vast amount of individual electrical Connector types that can be differentiated in several ways, and now we will see the classification of Connectors based on its applications.
Keyed Connectors: These Connectors can be joined together when they are adequately aligned together. This property helps avoid accidental damage to the terminal pins of the Connectors.
ESD Shielded Connectors: The ESD Connectors have protection from electrostatic discharge, which can damage the circuit of its components.
Locked Connectors: These Connectors have an inbuilt locking mechanism which helps to keep the connection in place.
EMI Filtering: These Connectors have an additional feature that is mounted on the housing. This feature helps the Connector to shield itself from electromagnetic interference.
Water-Resistant Connectors: water can damage Connectors very easily. Hence these Connectors are made water-resistant.
Hermetically Sealed Connectors: These Connectors can be used underwater. It will not get damaged by the water pressure.
Moisture/Oil Resistant Connectors: These Connectors are specifically made to protect them from oil and moisture.
Classification of Connectors Based on Connector Level
Box to Box or Input/Output Connectors: The input/output (I/O) Connectors are for attaching external devices, such as printers, keyboards, and displays, to the server.
Wire to Board Connectors: These types of Connectors are used to connect wires to a printed circuit board to enable connectivity between circuits.
Chip to Package Connectors: A chip to package Connector comprises a conductive member electrically coupled to the contacts and the remote device; wherein the contacts are arranged to be electrically and mechanically coupled to a circuit board.
Board to Board Connectors: This type of device is engineered to provide signal connections between two printed circuit boards (PCBs).
Classification of Connectors Based on Connector Function
Terminal Block: These Connectors terminate a single wire and connect it to a circuit. We use terminal block Connectors to connect wires from the same circuit without cutting the wires. Terminal block connection is further categorized as-
Barrier Strips- These are the interConnectors that contain metal strips, and screws or Connectors for easy connection and termination of wires.
Printed Circuit Board Terminal Blocks (PCB)- They are directly embedded into the circuit board and are commonly used for power, data, and signal connections across industries.
Multiple Terminal Connectors (MTC)- These blocks are used to connect multiple wires to a single terminal block, thereby reducing the reliability issues faced when multiple wires are connected in a single clamp.
Pluggable Terminal Blocks- They have a cable opening to allow the connection of cables along with a plug output that allows easy connection to a socket. They are useful in hot swapping situations.
Binding Post: The binding post Connectors are widely used in test fixtures for wire termination. You can find them in loudspeakers and audio amplifiers.
Blade: This Connector uses conductive blades that are flat and connect single wires to the blade receptacles. These are attached to the connecting wires and are generally used in speakers and thermostats.
Ring and Spade: In this, the connection is embedded between a threaded post and a screw. It allows making easy connections that can be removed effortlessly as the lock is partially closed.
Plug and Socket: They are suitable for use in control circuits. They provide connections between control circuitry and components. Plug and Socket Connectors are used in appliances to handle video and audio such as USB, network computing, HDMI, etc.
Rack and Panel: These Connectors are specially designed to connect any device to an equipment rack. They are designed for military and commercial performance and are manufactured to the highest quality and durability standards. This connects electronic pieces that can be removed with stationary or immovable parts of equipment. It is further classified into three- rack and panel, cable to cable, and cable to panel. They are used home theatre systems, printers, modems, etc.
Classification of Connectors based on Connector Level Termination
Insulation Displacement Connectors (IDC)- These Connectors attach insulated wires and do not use any pre-stripping of insulation. A group of blades cut the insulation when electric insulators are inserted. This helps to decrease the current handling potential.
Crimping- These make a connection between the wires and the Connectors which can be separated easily after use. These are easy to use, safe, and cost-effective Connectors.
Terminologies Related To Connectors
Some terms are used to describe the Connectors. These terminologies are mentioned below:
Gender- The gender of the Connector is male or female. It means whether the Connector will plug in or is plugged into. Sometimes the conductivity determines the gender of the Connector.
Polarity- The property of a Connector that allows it to be connected in one orientation is known as polarity. The materials which prevent Connectors from being connected wrong are said to be keyed or polarised.
Contact- The business portion of the Connector is known as the contact. These are generally the metal parts that form an electrical connection. This is the place where the problem occurs. They can become oxidized and soiled and may fade with time.
Pitch- The contacts in a Connector are arranged in repeated patterns. Pitch is defined as the distance from the center of one contact to the center of the next.
Mating Cycles- The information about the finite life of the Connectors is expressed using the term mating cycle. The finite life can be worn out if the Connectors are connected and disconnected continuously. For example, the lifetime of a USB is thousands or ten thousand cycles.
Mount- The term mount can be described as how the Connector is mounted when in use, the angle of the Connector related to its attachment or how the Connector is mechanically attached.
Strain Relief- The electrical connections are somewhat weak when the Connectors are mounted on a cable or board. Strain relief is provided to transfer forces acting on the Connector to an object which has more mechanically sound than weak electrical connections.
Application of Connectors
As we have seen, there are a lot of Connector types. Because there are so many different types of Connectors, they tend to have unique roles. We will now see some unique applications of Connectors.
You can find Connectors on every computer and laptop.
We are all aware of the Universal Serial Bus, also known as USB, which is also a standard Connector.
Connectors are also used as radio frequency Connectors. These Connectors help prevent the change of the transmission line’s impedance.
The Connectors named eight positions/ eight conductors (8P8C) are used in ethernet cables and CAT5. They look like RJ45 cables but the socket of 8P8C is different from RJ45.
D-Subminiature is the Connectors used in modem ports and IBM-compatible computers. There are different types of D-subminiature Connectors. These are thermocouple contact options, PCB and crimp mounts, solid machined contacts, etc.
The DC Connectors and AC power sockets/ plugs are installed to prevent people from getting shocked when they come in contact with energized conductors.