Electronic connectors are used for connecting electronic circuits. They are commonly utilized for installing, assembling, and providing electrical power to any electrical device. One of the most essential components of electronic equipment is connectors. These are usually used in consumer electronics, industrial machinery, and communications, as well as in commercial and home appliances. Most often, these devices are ignored, however, they are the ones that make electronic products complete and functional. While some of these connectors are used as permanent electrical joints, most of these devices are removable or temporary.

Electronic connectors are comprised of two major components – the terminals and the housing. The housing is responsible for holding the terminals and ensuring their stability. It can help in isolating the terminals from other electronic components in order to avoid any short-circuits.

In addition, it can also help in protecting the terminals from the environment. Generally, the connector housing is created from insulating materials like ceramics or molded plastics.  Connector terminals refer to the pins that allow the electrical current to flow between two electrical circuits. Terminals are usually created from electrically conductive materials such as beryllium copper, phosphor bronze, brass, and high copper alloy.

Gender Of Electronic Connectors

Electronic connectors commonly come as pairs, and each half has a designated gender. The female component is known as the jack or socket while the male component is referred to as the plug. The jack or socket has holes that consist of terminals and are linked to the device, cable, or wire. To obtain a connection, the terminals of the plug will be inserted into the holes of the jack.

Keying Of Electronic Connectors

A lot of connectors need to be plugged only in one orientation since electric charges display polarity. The goal of keying in electronic connectors is to prevent inappropriate mating orientation. With the keyway, electrical and mechanical damage to the pins caused by incompatible and dangerous connections can be avoided. At the same time, it can also help prevent plugging of the connector on the wrong socket or the wrong angle. Furthermore, a keyway can help in managing any symmetrical connectors.

Number of Contacts for Electronic Connectors

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Actually, the number of contacts describes the number of conductive elements that can be found in an electrical connection.

Locking Mechanisms of Electronic Connectors

The locking mechanism is responsible for holding the connector in place when mating occurs. Likewise, it can prevent the connector from being separated once it gets jolted or bumped. Meanwhile, unexpected uncoupling of the connector can be avoided during the operation. Most often this can cause damage to the electronic device. There are different kinds of locking systems in electronic connectors such as bayonet couplings, push-pull connectors, and screw couplings.

Contact Pitch of Electronic Connectors

The pitch or contact pitch considers the distance between the neighboring pins. Commonly, this is measured in millimeters. When pins are placed in an array, the pitch between columns and rows could vary. The contact pitch can create an impact on the compatibility of connectors.

With a larger pitch, there can be fewer terminals for each connector area. This can help in minimizing the occurrence of electrical arcing. Electrical arcing occurs when the electrical current suddenly jumps from one pin to another, particularly, when the pins are very close to one another.

Pin Sequence of Electronic Connectors

In some electronic connectors, the pins are designed in such a way that they are joined in a particular sequence. First, a particular set of pins should be plugged in before another set will be inserted.

Mating Cycles of Electronic Connectors

Mating cycles describe the frequency when an electronic connector can be disconnected or joined by its counterpart while conforming with all its specifications. The mating frequency will vary depending on the type of the connector. For instance, FFC and FPC connectors are only allowed to have tens of mating cycles while a USB connector is permitted to have thousands of mating cycles. However, there are some factors that can affect the mating cycle such as the mating style, the resistance threshold for passing or failing, the thickness and type of plating, as well as the connector material type.

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Pin Numbering of Electronic Connectors

In an electrical connector, every pin is serialized. A unique number is assigned to a particular pin depending on its designated sequence. When it comes to integrated circuits, an anti-clockwise direction is used in numbering the pins.

Termination of Electronic Connectors

Termination describes the connection of these terminals.

Strain Relief of Electronic Connectors

Strain relief refers to the bushing or fitting that exerts forces on the electronic connector to avoid any damage or stress on the connector, making it technically stable.

Mounting of Electronic Connectors

Mounting describes the method in which the electronic connector is mounted or arranged to an electrical device. There are different types of mounting such as cable mounting, panel mounting, and board mounting.

Performance Parameters of Electronic Connectors

Performance parameters describe the circumstances in which electronic connectors are created for operating safely. Some examples of these parameters are temperature ratings, voltage ratings, and the current rating.

What are the Features of Electronic Connectors?

There are different types of electronic connectors, some include features that allow them to be used in special applications.

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  • Water-Resistant Connectors – These connectors can provide protection to your electronic connection, most especially from any damage resulting from water exposure. Nevertheless, they are not intended to be used underwater.
  • Hermetically Sealed Connectors – These connectors come with glass-to-metal sealing so you can obtain an airtight sealing. They can resist moisture and air, as well as withstand extreme conditions. Unlike water-resistant connectors, these connectors can entirely be submerged in the water. You can operate them safely up to a specific depth.
  • EMI and/or RFI Filtering – When applied to connectors, these can protect the electronic connectors from any Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) or Electromagnetic Interference (EMI).
  • Moisture and Oil Resistant Connectors – These connectors offer protection to electronic connections, specifically from damage arising from oil and moisture exposure.
  • ESD Shielded Connectors – These connectors can secure electronic connections from damage caused by electrostatic discharge (ESD).

What Are the Different Types of Electronic Connectors?

The following are some of the common types of electronic connectors:

Box Header Connectors

In board-to-board connectors, they are classified based on their header type. When it comes to the box header connectors, the header can be found around the terminals. However, when it comes to the pin headers, the terminals are left uncovered.

Board-to-Board Connectors

Board-to-board connectors refer to a bunch of electronic connectors that link two printed circuit boards (PCBs) without the use of a cable. Generally, these connectors are comprised of a female and a male component. Furthermore, they are constructed with PCBs by using surface mount technology or through-hole technology.

PCB connection is either done in a parallel or a perpendicular configuration. In a stacking configuration, PCBs are connected via a mezzanine connector. Meanwhile. an edge connector is used for mating the edges of double-sided or single-sided PCBs.

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Backplane Connectors

When connecting several PCBs, the backplane served as a backbone structure. In this way, the pins of one PCB will be connected to the same pins of another PCB. This particular method is commonly used in telecommunication devices and computers since it permits data transfer between components.

Power Connectors

Power connectors refer to connectors that permit electrical current to flow through them to supply power to a certain device. They provide either an alternating current (AC) or a direct current (DC). The following are some of the typical types of power connectors:

Molex Connectors

During the 1950s, the Molex Connector company developed and patented the Molex connectors. Generally, these connectors are used for supplying power to computer drives and devices. They include cylindrical spring-metal pins that match the cylindrical spring-metal sockets. Usually, a Molex connector consists of between 2 and 24 contacts, which are either placed in single or double rows. They are keyed to guarantee that there is proper plugging orientation. The sockets and pins are attached to the plastic housing.

Barrel Connectors

Also referred to as coaxial power connectors, barrel connectors can create a connection between your electronic device and an external power source. From a wall-mounted adaptor, low voltage DC is acquired and then transferred to the electronic device with the use of a barrel connector. They are commonly used in consumer electronics and come in standard lengths and diameters.

IEC Connectors

IEC connectors are a classification of connectors that satisfy the IEC standards. The IEC 60320 is the standard that specifies the parts that are used for connecting electrical equipment with the power supply cord with a current rating of 16 A and a voltage rating of 250 V. There are various types of standardized IEC connectors and usually they differ in the number of terminals, dimensions, temperature rating, and current rating. IEC connectors consist of components that come in pairs such as an inlet and a connector.

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