Circular Connectors are electrical plugs and receptacles, with multiple contacts housed within a circular body. The connector housing or body can be manufactured from materials such as Aluminium, Stainless Steel, Nickel Aluminium Bronze and Composite.
Why are Circular Connectors used?
They are often selected by designers due to their high performance in extreme environments of vibration, shock, temperature and pressure or where high levels of protection against electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI) are required.
Circular Connector Components & Features
Number of Connector Contacts: Contacts are the most crucial part of the connector, as they connect the conductive material in the plug. This plug carries a signal or power to the mating conductive material in the socket. The number of contacts in a circular connector is often dictated by the number of IO that the connector needs to transfer. For example, a circular connector that supplies an RGB signal to an LED will have four contacts for the red, green, blue, and ground IO.
Number of Connector Ports: Think of circular connector ports as how many circles make up the connector. Therefore, most circular connectors only have one port. However, some circular connectors can "split" signals to multiple other ports, which requires using multiple circular sockets for a single plug manifold. For example, this Molex connector has one inlet port and ten outlet ports. This number of port configurations is notated as "1/10."
Termination Method: The termination method describes how a signal-carrying wire terminates into the connector. One prevalent termination method is crimp terminations, but specific connectors require specific crimps and crimping tools, so check for product compatibility on your connector's datasheet.
Connector Design: Body Orientation: A connector's physical geometry is crucial in physically constrained systems. For example, a television's wall plug is often oriented to lay flat against the wall, since televisions are frequently placed on stands that lay close to the wall, reducing room for wires and plugs. The body orientation of circular connectors allows for flexibility in similar situations and tight spaces.
Contact Gender: One often-confusing point when selecting a circular connect is choosing the correct contact gender. The contact gender is only the gender of the contact, not the connector itself. For example, a standard "barrel jack" connector system may look like male contacts while they are, in fact, female contact genders.
Current and Voltage Ratings: The current and voltage ratings of a connector are dictated by the size and geometry of the conductive materials. When selecting circular connectors, choose a higher voltage and current-rated connector than your application requires, as an overdesigned connector may provide more arc protection or lower impedance.
Temperature Rating: As the name suggests, a connector's temperature rating dictates its recommended operating temperature conditions. In applications that require specific qualifications, such as MIL-spec or automotive temperature ranges, these temperature ranges may be well beyond what the connector could see. For example, the MIL-spec circular connector from Amphenol features a temperature range from -60C to 200C.
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