US 3083274 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
March 26, 1963 H. P. SPARKES 3,083,274
CONNECTOR ASSEMBLY Filed Oct. 13, 1959 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 INVENTOR. #422) P. .f aa is March 26, 1963 H. P. sPARKEs 3,083,274
CONNECTOR ASSEMBLY Filed Oct. 13, 1959 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR. #422) 9. 50mm;
BY m M United States Patent 3,033,274 CONNECTOR ASSEMBLY Harry P. Sparkes, Pacific Palisades, Calif., assignor to (gole Electric Company, Culver City, Calif., a corporatron of California Filed Oct. 13, 1959, Ser. No. 846,192 11 Claims. (Cl. Mil-51.09)
This invention relates to electrical connector assemblies, and more particularly involves a connector construction having particular utility in aircraft and guided missile systems, permitting control to the last second before take-oft or firing.
The art of high speed aircraft and missile control generally requires many complicated connections from the aircraft or missile to a control center, where power check-off or count-down instrumentation is observed. Such systems must be maintained to the last second before take-off or firing, and in some cases for moments after firing. Since the connections to the body of the aircraft or of the missile are subjected to severe vibrations, the electrical connectors which service such needs must be durable, rigid and yet be capable of instantaneous disconnection.
Complicated devices which utilize compressed air, lanyard cords, electric motors and solenoids have been variously employed for eifectuating disconnections of certain types of electrical connectors. But all of these systems are complicated and costly, and failures in functioning have resulted in lost missiles.
It is a primary object of this invention to provide an electrical connector assembly which is self-disconnecting as the aircraft or missile departs from its station; a connector which will withstand the severe vibrational strains of guided missile control systems without disconnecting until the proper moment.
Another object of this invention is to provide an electrical connector assembly having a latching mechanism for holding a plug assembly to its mating receptacle and including a self-aligning terminal connection that allows the plug and receptacle to separate due to their own weight unless the mechanism is latched.
A further object is to provide an electrical connector comprising a first terminal assembly having a catch means thereon; a complementary second terminal assembly including a casing, a terminal body adapted to be connected to a cable and mounted for limited axial movement within said casing between electrical connected and disconnected positions, latching means mounted to said casing for engaging said catch means, and means operable for holding said latching means in a catch-engaging position, said means being operated to a latch-releasing position by moving said body to an electrical disconnected position.
Other objects of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art of electrical connectors in view of the drawings and the following description.
In the drawings, forming a part of this application, and in which like parts are designated by like reference numerals throughout the same,
FIG. 1 is a view in section of an electrical connector assembly which embodies this invention; the connector is illustrated in the normal disconnected state.
FIG. 2 is a partial section of the connector assembly of FIG. 1 and shown in an intermediate position of connection, the latching mechanism having been operated to connect the plug casing and connector pins to the receptacle.
FIG. 3 illustrates the same connector assembly in a fully coupled and electrically connected position.
Referring more particularly to FIG. 1, there is shown one embodiment of this invention generally comprising a first terminal assembly 1, formed as a receptacle unit and 3,083,274 Patented Mar. 26, 1963 ice supported upon a mounting plate 2, and a second terminal assembly 3 connected to a cable 4. The mounting plate 2 could be made as part of the body of a missile and the receptacle may be covered when not in use by a spring lock trap door, such as conventionally provided on the skin of the aircraft or missile.
Terminal assembly '1 has a plurality of terminalleads 10 which are connected to an electrical wiring network such as would be contained within a missile. The terminal leads are imbedded in an insulating material 1 1 and are provided with split sleeve members 12 disposed within receptacle cavities and mounted upon the spherical ends of said leads. Each sleeve member is relatively free to rotate about its respective terminal lead, but is captivated within a receptacle cavity by the cover plate 13. Accordingly, there is provided a receptacle assembly having the capacity for individual alignment of each sleeve member. It should be further noted that all sleeve members may be moved to a downwardly inclined position, permitting each mating pin member carried by terminal assembly 3 to leave the receptacle at an angle.
The second terminal assembly 3 is adapted for con nection to the end of a cable, such as conventionally employed in ground to missile control systems. A protective casing 20, made of a resilient substance such as rubber, shrouds the entire internal mechanism of the assembly, said mechanism comprising a connector pin sub-assembly 21 fixed to the casing, a terminal sub-assembly 22 mounted for limited axial movement relative to said connector pin sub-assembly between an electrical connected position (FIG. 3) and a disconnected position (FIGS. 1 and 2), and means for latching the terminal assemblies together.
Connector pin sub-assembly 21 includes a plurality of double-end connector pins 24 which are imbedded in an insulating mounting plate 25, and arranged in a symmetrical pattern identical to the placement of terminal leads 10 in terminal assembly 1. It is to be noted that the inner ends 26 of pins 24 may be of varying lengths to create a selective switching arrangement and an order of sequential connection and disconnection as the terminal sub-assembly 22 is moved between its connected and disconnected positions. Mounting plate 25 is supported within a tube 27 and held in position against a shoulder 28 by a locking ring 29.
Terminal sub-assembly 22 is formed similarly to terminal assembly 1, having a plurality of terminal leads 30 imbedded in an insulating mounting plate 31 and provided with split sleeve members 32 which are disposed Within receptacle cavities of plate 31. Terminal leads 30 connect to the cable wires which pass out through a basket mesh known in the art as a Kellems grip, the area indicated by reference numeral 33 being filled with a potting compound after connection. A tubular housing 34, which surrounds and contains the potting compound, fits within tube 27 and is disposed therein before installing mounting plate 25 with its connector pins. Since both tubes, 27 and 34, are provided with a stepped surface, they can be reciprocally moved relative to one another until said stepped surfaces engage, or until the terminal sleeves 32 engage connector pins 24.
One or more spring biasing means 35 are disposed between the sub-assemblies 21 and 22, urging the terminal sub-assembly away from the connector pins and into disconnected positions, shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. If more than one such spring bias is utilized, they are placed symmetrically around the edges of the facing surfaces of mounting plates 25 and 31. As shown for purpose of illustrative convenience, however, a single biasing means is disposed coaxially of said mounting plates. The biasing means comprises a threaded bolt 36 which connects with a tapped hole in plate 25. A helical spring 37 partly 3 surrounds the'bolt, engaging the inner surface of a cavity '38 provided in theadjacent side of plate 31. It will be noted, FIG. 3, that spring 37 is compressed, and the distended end of bolt 36 is moved into cavity 38 when the terminal sub-assembly 22'is actuated into its electrical connected position.
iO-ring seals 4-1 and 42 are provided in the peripheral edges of insulating mounting plates 25 and 31, respectively, to prevent fluid leakage between said plates and the inner surface of tube 27. Accordingly, an explosionproof switching area is formed between the mounting plates. .Such a construction is particularly important because of fuel fumes which are prevalent around aircraft and missile areas.
The assemblage .of connector pin sub-assembly 21 and terminal sub-assembly 22 is mounted coaxially within casing 20, tube 27 engaging a necked portion 43 of said casing and defining with the inner casing surface a latching chamber 44 and a detent housing 45. Within chamber '44 and housing 45, respectively, are disposed a latching means for holding terminal assemblies 1 and 3 together and detent means for retaining terminal sub-assembly 22 in its electrical connected position.
The detent means includes a leaf spring member 46 mounted upon the outer surface of tube 27. The end of leaf spring 46 carries a piston which reciprocates in a slot opening 47 provided in tube 27. This opening also retains a spherical ball 48 whichis urged upwardly into engagement with the surface of tube 34 by the leaf spring. Ahalf moon recess 49 is provided in the outer surface of tube 34 and is located in a position which overlies the slotted opening when the terminal sub-assembly 22 is moved into the electrical connected position of FIG. 3. If the terminal sub-assembly is moved into the position illustrated by FIG. 3., it is apparent that the ball will be partly housed in the recess and partly retained in slot opening 47. Accordingly, there can be no relative move ment between tubes 27 and 34 until sufiicient axial force is applied to the cable to cam the ball downward against the biasing force of leaf spring 46.
The latching means comprises a latch lever 50 having an elongate slot 51 through which projects a pin member 52, supported upon a pair of ear members 53 which are mounted upon the outer surface of tube 27. The innermost end 5.0a of lever 59 projects upwardly, as shown, through a slot 54 in tube 27; and in the retracted, electrical disconnected position of terminal sub-assembly 22, lever end 50a engages a recess 55 formed in tube 34. The lip edges of recess 55 protrude radially to a different degree, lip 55a on the switching side of the recess being slightly longer than the lip 55b on the cable side, FIGS. 2 and 3. This structure is most conveniently provided by forming tube 34 with a larger diameter on the switching side of the recess. A leaf spring member 56 is mounted to the casing and engages latch lever 50, biasing end 59a into contact with tube 34 and pivoting the latching end 5012 of lever 56 downward into a catchengaging position.
A lip portion 27a is provided upon the outer edge of tube 27, said lip having a surface portion which is inclined and mated to cooperate with a surface 500 when lever 59 is rotated into a latching position. It will be noted, FIG. 3, that as tube 34 moves toward the right, closing off slot 54, its outer surface engages end Silo, further pivoting lever 50 counterclockwise, pressing surface 50:: into abutting engagement with surface 27a and providing a positive seal between the edges of tube 27 and connector assembly 1.
The geometry of the latching means allows the following motions: With tube 34 retracted toward the cable end as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, and with end 59:: lodged in recess 55, terminal assembly 3 may be fitted to terminal assembly 1, each connector pin 24 being aligned and inserted into its mating receptacle cavity. As terminal assembly 3 is moved toward terminal assembly 1, latch end 50!) engages a catch recess 57 which may be formed in the insulating material 11 of terminal assembly 1, or in the mounting plate. Catch recess 57 is inclined from the peripheral edge of the terminal assembly toward its center axis; and as end Stlb contacts camming surface 57a of the recess it is urged upwardly, pivoting lever 50 about pin 52 into the position shown in FIG. 2. It should be noted that until lever 50 is thus pivoted, end 50a occupies the recess 55 and sub-assembly 22 cannot be moved toward connector sub-assembly 21, thus preventing a closure of contacts 32 and 26. This structural relation provides what is known as a dead from: lockout, insuring that connector pins 24 are non-conducting whenever terminal assemblies 1 and 3 are separated. But as latching end 56b hooks itself around the lip of catch recess 57, lever end 50a is pivoted out of recess 55, allowing terminal subassembly 22 to move to the right, as shown. Sufficient pressure is then applied to the terminal sub-assembly from the cable end until the biasing force of spring means 35 is overpowered and split sleeve members 32 move into engagement with their respective connector pins. As tube 34 moves across tube 27, recess 55is displaced to the right and the obstructing surface of tube 34 causes surfaces 500 and 27a to engage, pressing tube 27 against connector assembly 1. When the sub-assembly 3 is moved fully toward the right, the detent means retains the sub-assemblies 21 and 22 in their electrical connected position, shown in FIG. 3, in a manner described above.
The operation for disconnecting this connector assembly may be conveniently explained under typical circumstances of a practical application. If the connector has been applied to an aircraft, the first forward motion of the craft will pull the cable sulficiently taut to overcome the holding power of the detent means, which is sensitive to direct or angular tension. Spring biasing means 35 will then cause sub-assembly 22 to be moved toward the left, separating the sub-assemblies and efiecting an electrical disconnection of contacts 32 and 26. As recess 55 passes over slot 54 in tube 27, the protruding lip edge 55a will engage the top portion of lever end 50a. Accordingly, the lever is simultaneously retracted in a direction along the major axis of slot 51 and pivoted upon pin 52, the latching end Sllb camming against catch surface 57b and aided by leaf spring 56 pivoting lever 50 in a clockwise direction. Since the split sleeve members 12 can easily be moved to a downwardly inclined position, the weight of the cable and plug alone will be sufficient to cause them to so orient themselves; connector pins 24 will slide from their receptacle cavities; and terminal assembly 3 will fall to the ground with all connector pins 24 in a nonconducting or dead state.
The terminal assembly illustrated has the further advantage of being readily disassembled for purposes of making repairs or wiring connections, The connector terminal sub-assembly is removed by releasing the locking ring 29. Then, lever end 50b is pivoted toward the connectors axis, thereby releasing lever end 50a from recess 55. The entire terminal sub-assembly 22 can now be moved toward the right from positions shown to expose the potting area 33.
If desired, additional latching means may be provided on terminal assembly 3. Thus, a second latching lever 50 may be disposed diametrically opposite to the one illustrated. The same associated structures would be similarly disposed in a second latching housing to be provided in the casing, and a second catch recess would then be formed in terminal assembly 1. If more than one latching lever was utilized, it is further contemplated that the latching ends of the levers and their respective catch recesses be of different widths, thereby polarizing the plug to assure proper connection.
Although only a preferred embodiment of the inven tion has been illustrated and described, it is to be understood that various changes in the shape, size and arrangement of certain parts may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention or the scope of the attached claims.
Having thus described my invention, what I claim and desire to secure by Letters Patent is:
1. An electrical connector comprising a first terminal assembly having a catch means thereon; a complementary second terminal assembly including a casing, a terminal body adapted to be connected to a cable and mounted for limited axial movement within said casing between electrical connected and disconnected positions, said terminal body having a latch lever contacting surface including an obstructing surface and a recess therein, a latch lever pivotally mounted on said casing between catch-engaging and catch-releasing positions and operated by movement of said terminal body, said lever having a projected end portion contacting said surface of said body, means biasing said lever into engagement with said surface and urging said lever into a catch-releasing position; whereby said projected portion of said lever occupies said recess until mated with said catch means, and whereby said obstructing surface is placed opposite to said projected portion by moving said body into an electrical connected position, thereby locking said first and second terminal assemblies together.
2. An electrical connector comprising a first terminal assembly having a catch means thereon; a complementary second terminal assembly including a casing, a connector pin sub-assembly mounted Within said casing, a terminal pin sub-assembly adapted for connection to an electrical conductor means and mounted within said casing for limited axial movement between electrical connected and disconnected positions with said connector pin sub-assembly, said terminal pin sub-assembly being retracted to an electrical disconnected position by applying tension to a connected conductor means, said terminal sub-assembly having a latch lever contacting surface including an obstructing surface and a recess therein, a latch lever pivotally mounted on said casing between catch-engaging and catch-releasing positions and operated by movement of said terminal body, said lever having a projected end portion contacting said terminal sub-assembly surface, means biasing said lever into engagement with said surface and urging said lever into a catch-releasing position.
3. An electrical connector comprising a receptacle assembly including one or more terminal pins retained in a receptacle body, said terminal pins having spherical ends mounted within split sleeve members, said members capable of pivoting with a limited universal and selfaligning movement, and a catch means provided in said assembly; a complementary plug assembly including a protective casing, one or more connector pins mounted within said casing and disposed for simultaneous mating alignment with respective receptacle sleeve members, a terminal body disposed within said casing and mounted for limited axial movement between electrical connected and disconnected positions, said body having one or more terminals mounted therein and arranged in mating axial alignment with respective connector pins, said terminals being adapted for connection to wires of a cable, said terminal body also having a latch lever contacting surface including an obstructing surface and a recess therein, a latch lever pivotally mounted on said casing between catch-engaging and catch-releasing positions and operated by movement of said terminal body, said lever having a projected end portion contacting said surface of said body, means biasing said lever into engagement with said surface and urging said lever into a catchreleasing position; means for biasing said terminal body toward an electrical disconnected position, and detent means mounted in said casing for resisting the force of said last named biasing means and retaining said body in an electrical connected position.
4. An electrical connector comprising a first terminal assembly; a complementary second terminal assembly, said second assembly including a terminal body and a connector sub-assembly matable with said first terminal assembly and said terminal body, said terminal body adapted to be connected to a conductor means and mounted for limited axial movement between electrically connected and disconnected positions with said connector sub-assembly, said terminal body being retracted to an electrically disconnected position by applying tension to a connected conductor means, means operated by movement of said terminal body into electrical connection with said connector sub-assembly for fastening said first terminal assembly to said connector sub-assembly, said means being operated to a latch releasing position by moving said terminal body out of electrical connection with said connector sub-assembly, said fastening means comprising a catch means provided on said first terminal assembly, a latch lever pivotally mounted to said second terminal assembly and operated by movement of said terminal body, said lever having a projected end portion contacting said surface of said body, and means biasing said lever into engagement with said surface and urging said lever into a catch-releasing position.
5. An electrical connector as defined in claim 4 and further including means for biasing said terminal body and said connector sub-assembly toward electrically disconnected positions, and detent means for releasably retaining said terminal body and said connector sub-assembly in electrically connected positions.
6. An electrical connector as defined in claim 4 and further including detent means for releasably retaining said terminal body and said connector sub-assembly in electrically connected positions.
7. An electrical connector as defined in claim 6 and further including means for biasing said terminal body and said connector sub-assembly toward electrically disconnected positions.
8. An electrical connector as defined in claim 4 wherein said first terminal sub-assembly and said terminal body each include one or more terminal pins having spherical ends mounted within split sleeve members, said sleeve members being capable of pivoting with limited universal and self-aligning movement; and wherein said connector sub-assembly defines a complementary plug including connector pins matably arranged for engagement with said split sleeve members.
9. An electrical connector as defined in claim 2 and further including detent means for releasably retaining said terminal pin sub-assembly and said connector pin sub-assembly in electrically connected positions.
10. An electrical connector as defined in claim 2 and further including means for biasing said terminal pin sub-assembly and said connector pin sub-assembly toward electrically disconnected positions.
11. An electrical connector as defined in claim 2 wherein said first terminal assembly and said terminal pin sub-assembly each include one or more terminal pins having spherical ends mounted within split sleeve members, said sleeve members being capable of pivoting with limited universal and self-aligning movements; and wherein said connector pin sub-assembly defines a complementary plug including connector pins matably arranged for engagement with said split sleeve members.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,775,745 Eaton Dec. 25, 1956 2,853,690 Madison Sept. 23, 1958v 2,986,613 Figueira May 30, 1961 FOREIGN PATENTS 99,574 Australia Apr. 10, 1925