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February 11, 2014 15:00

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Need a connector? Take your pick...

Connectors are one of the most complex series of products that an engineer will have to specify as part of any design. To illustrate this point, just look on the back of any laptop or computer and see the sheer variety of connectors that is required for power, networking, video, audio and peripherals.  One of the most interesting things about this incredible variety in the range of connectors available to us is how we regularly mix the new and cutting edge with familiar established types.

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 The D-Subminiature connector has been around for well over half a century, and it is hard to think of a task that the D-sub hasn't been asked to perform. The versatility of the D-shaped shell that gives the product its name is such that a change of material or an alteration in the contact design can produce a connector with remarkably different characteristics. With closed entry machined contacts and a decent level of plating, a D-subminiature connector can easily classed as a "high reliability" industrial connector.

The Amplimite range of D-sub connectors from TE Connectivity proves that there is still life left in this grand old man of the connector world. The sheer variety of options available means that most designers will find an Amplimite connector that will suit their application. From cable-mounted crimp connectors to high density printed circuit board types, there can be few places better to look for the Amplimite series than RS Components. Take a look at the Amplimite range here.

Circular connector types are also held in very high regard.  Many of these connectors have their origins in the military and aerospace world where robustness and high reliability are not just nice to have, they are vital.  As a result, some of the circular connector types available can be bulky, heavy and possibly over-engineered - if you want to connect two halves of a machine, do you really need a connector that could moor the Queen Mary?

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However, there is an alternative.  The CPC range from TE Connectivity takes its inspiration from the heavy military types of the past.  CPC stands for "Circular Plastic Connector", and therein lies the strength of the product.  By manufacturing the connector from plastic, the end product is lighter and better value than the military-derived alternative, but retains many of the features that make its heavyweight cousins so useful.  The circular shell is inherently strong, and is easy to seal (IP67 in some instances, for those in the know).  There are loads of different contact options from good-value signal types all the way up to high power.  The RS Components CPC offer is extensive and can be found here.

At the other end of the spectrum, modern connector design emphasises high contact density and incredibly high data speeds. Traditional copper contacts (when compared with fibre optic types) can now handle speeds that only 10 years ago seemed like science fiction.  Networking connectors have undergone a revolution recently, and the RS Point Five system is a wonderful example.  Taking up half the space of a traditional RJ45 connector (which has been the standard networking connectors for years), it can still be terminated easily in the field making installation of new networks easy.  The RJ Point Five system is also available from RS Components, take a look at the range here.

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The world of connectors is hugely fascinating (but then I would say that, wouldn't I?), but that can make it a little scary and confusing.  There is help at hand, however. RS Components along with our friends at TE Connectivity are ideally placed to make sure that you can view the latest and most popular product available.  And if you're really stuck, come back to DesignSpark and ask a question, we'll be happy to help.

Connector Geek is Dave in real life. With over 26 years in the industry, Dave likes talking about connectors almost as much as being a Dad to his two kids. He may still be a kid at heart himself...

February 11, 2014 15:00

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