US 3088089 A
Abstract available in
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
April 30, 1963 3,088,089
S. E. GREGOIRE ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR Filed Dec. 18, 1958 I q 42 'Z- c;
INVENTOR. 54 53 55 STEPHEN E. GREGOIRE ATTOR YS 56 Byqm addi/m the limits of the invention.
United States Patent O ce This invention relates to a separable electrical connector. The connector of the illustrative embodiment is particularly adapted for use in, although is not restricted to, applications wherein the respective parts are mounted `rupon bodies which are selectively retained together and separated from each other.
The invention has among its objects the provision of a novel separable electrical connector.
A furtherobject of the invention lies in the provision Vof, a separable electr-ical connector having the two main t -parts thereof sealed to bodies which are selectively held together and released from each other.
Yet another object of the invention lies in the provision Aof an improved `separable electrical connector, wherein the socket contact-carrying portion 'thereofV has a retractable Ycap which lies substantially flush with the outer end of such portion when the contact pin-carrying portion of the connector is disconnected therefrom.
Still a further object of the invention lies in the .provision `of an improved separable electrical connector having the pin-carrying portion thereof sealed to the body upon-which it is mounted, the pin-carrying portion being held thereonpso as to have a limited range of universal movement with respect Ithereto.
Yet another object of the invention lies in the provision of an improved separable electrical connector having improved Sealing means between the socket contact and pin contact-carrying portions thereof when such portions are in operative engagement.
The above and further objects and novel Ifeatures of the invention will more fully appear from the following description when the same is read in connection with the accompanying drawings. It is to be expresslyV understood, however, that the drawings are for the purpose of illustration only and are not intended as a definition of In the drawings, wherein like reference characters refer to like parts throughout the several views,
FIG. l is a fragmentary view of a separable electrical connector made in accordance with the invention, the two main parts of the connector being shown in engaged operative position, portions of the bodies upon which the two connector parts are mounted, as well as the means selectively Yholding such bodies together, being fragmentarily shown, certain of the parts belng shown in elevation;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary view in vertical axial section i through the contact pin-carrying portion of the connector shown in FIG. l, such portion being shown in the position which it bears relatively to its supporting body lwhen it is disconnected from the contact socket-carrying portion of the connector; and
FIG. 3 is a view in verticalaxial section through the socket contact-carrying portion of the connector, the parts of such portion being shown in the position they assume when thetpin-Vcarrying portion of the connector is removed from operativeV engagement therewith.
The embodiment of separable electrical. connector shown is particularly adapted for use in applications where two bodies are selectively held together or disconnected from each other, and there is an electrical circuit which extends from one body to the other which is broken when the two bodies are separated from each other. Small target or drone airplanes, which are carried aloft by a mother airplane and are there separated 3,088,089 Patented Apr. 30, 1963 2 therefrom, present a need for such separable connector, since the drone airplane has one or more mechanisms which is supplied with power and/ or signals while it remains attached to the mother airplane.
A separable electrical connector, in order to be satis- Vfactory for suchV service, must have characteristics which are ordinarily not present in conventional connectors. Thus, the two connector parts must remain sealed from the atmosphere throughout wide variations of atmospheric pressure, whether or not they are vin operative engagement or are disconnected from each other. It is also necessary that one of the connector parts, preferably that carrying the pinV contact, shall be yieldably mounted and capable of tilting `in any direct-ion throughout a limited range to prevent injury of the connector parts during separation ofthe bodies. It is also highly desirable that when the parts Yare in operative engagement they are sealed to each Lother, so that, when there are provided means sealing the parts-to their respective bodies, the electrical circuit through the connector is completely sealed from the atmosphere. lFinally, it is highly desirable that the connector portion mounted on the drone airplane shall present `as streamline a surface as possible, and that the seal Vbetween it and its body shall be substantially protected from the weather. The illustrative electrical connector fulfills all such requirements satisfactorily, and Yfulfills the above stated objects of the invention by novel combinations of elements to be described.
In'FIG. 1 there are shown a portion 10 of the skin or outer surface of a parent aircraft and a fragment designated 1.1 of the skin or outer surface of a drone aircraft, which in FIG. 1 is shown attached to the parent aircraft by releasable means generally designated 13. The connector of the invention includes a contact pin-carrying portion generally designated 12, which is connected to the A parent aircraft, anda mating socket contact-carrying portion generally designated 14, mounted on the drone aircraft. Referring `now to FIGS. l and 2, the structure of portion 12 ofthe connector and the means mounting it on member 10 will now be described.
VA cup-like member 15 having a central opening in the bottom thereof is secured .to skin 10 of the parent aircraft by means not shown, so that such opening is aligned with similarv opening 16 in skin 10. AThe axially inner end ,of member -15 is provided with a transverse cover 17 which is secured thereto by screws, as shown. A shielded cable 20, which maybe, for example .a lead from -an exciter mounted in the parent aircraft to supply the -ignition system of the drone aircraft, has its end extending into and sealed as by being welded to aV metal Igrornme-t or ferrule 19 which is mounted upon cover 17. Mounted coaxially of member 151 is a smaller inner cup-like member 21 which is constantly urged in an axially outer direction toward the position of FIG. 2 by a coil compression spring 22 which is held therewithin and which abuts cover 17 at itstaxially inner end.
The contact pin-carrying portion of the separable connector has a generally circular cylindrical metallic shell 24, the inner end of which extends through a central opening in the end wall of element 21. A radially outwardly extending flange 23 on shell 24 lies axially outwardly of and is connected to the end Wall of element 21. Thus, shell 24 is integrally connected to member 21 and is constantly thrust in an axially outward direction lby `spring 22. Shell 24 carries therewithin a first, radially outer tubular insulating member 23 bonded to the shell, a second, axially inner electrically insulating member 30 within insulator 23', and a third, axially outer insulating member 125 made of elastic material such as rubber.
3 center a contact pin 26 within the shell, and also serve to seal it to the shell.
The inner end of the contact pin is extended axially inwardly of the shell at 27, and is connected to a exible pigtail 29 which may be a continuation of cable 20. Altern- -atively the upper end of pigtajl 29 may be connected to cable 20 within grommet 19. A flexible boot member 31 has its lower end telescoped over and sealed to the upper end of shell 24 within member 21. The upper end of boot member 31 is telescoped over and is Isealed to the end of grommet 19 which lies inwardly of cover 17. It will be seen that the -above described |apparatus constitutes a structure which is heimetically sealed in its extent from the contact pin 26 to the cable 20, regardless of the position of shell 24 with respect to skin 10.
The contact socket-carrying portion 14 of 'the separable electrical connector is secured as 'by welding to a plate member 32 which lies inwardly of Iand is secured to skin 11 of the drone by means not shown. The shell 34 of portion 14 is of circular cylindrical configuration and is disposed with its outer end extending through aligned openings in members 11 and 32, the outer surface of portion 14 lying substantially flush with the outer surface of skin 11.
An inner shell 35, which has the end thereof remote from skin 11 radially outwardly flanged at 33, is secured as by welding to shell 34 so las to lie coaxial thereof. The bodies of shells 34 and 35 have such diameters relative to the other that there is an annular space of substantial radial width presented between the shells. The inner shell 35 carries an elongated rubber insert 36 which is disposed coaxi-al of the shells with its outer end surface 57 lying flush with the outer end of shell 34. Insert 36, which is snugly and sealingly held in shell 35, serves to support a socket contact 37 axially therewithin. The socket contact and the lead pin connected to the inner end thereof are sealed to insert 36.
The axially outer end of shell 24 of portion 12 of the connector is in the form of an annular hood 39 which encloses and is radially spaced from contact pin 26. The outer lower surface 40 of hood 39 is in the shape of a frustum of an outwardly converging cone. The radially inner surface of the lower end of shell 24, including that within hood 39 is provided with a thin insulating layer 41, which may be made for example of tetrauroethylene, sold under the trade name Teflon.
When portions 12 and 14 of the separable electrical connector are in operative engagement, as shown in FIG. l, the lower end of hood 39 is received within the annular space presented between the axially outer ends of shell 34 and insert 36. The inner diameter of insulating sleeve 41 somewhat exceeds the outer diameter of the outer end of insert 36, so that the outer end of the insert is freely slidable within hood 39. When portions 12 and 14 of the connector are in operative engagement the outer end 57 of insert 36 and the outer end 59 of insert 25 are positioned firmly in contact so as to present a seal therebetween. As shown in FIG. 1, the outer end of hood 39 is cylindrical and has an outer diameter closely approximating the inner diameter of the outer end of shell 34. Such outer end of shell 34 thus functions as an annular guide which accurately engages the cylindrical zone on the outer end of the hood.
To maintain portions 12 and 14 in such fully engaged position until they are deliberately released from each other by the operation of means 13, the shells 24 and 34 are provided with cooperating releasable locking means. In the embodiment shown, such locking means Vtakes the form of a spring ring 42 mounted in Ian annular, radially inwardly open groove, in the thickened outer end portion 44 of shell 34. The ring 42 is of such relaxed diameter, land the groove in which it is positioned is of such depth, that the ring normally lies With a substantial portion thereof protruding radially inwardly from portion 44 0f shell 34. Beyond the inner, larger end of frusto-conical surface 40 of hood 39 there is positioned an 'annular groove 45 which is so located that it confronts and receives spring ring 42 when parts 12 and 14 of the connector are fully engaged. The described locking means retains shells 34 and 24 together, following the release of means 13, so that an additional force, such as the weight of the drone, is required to separate the shells 24 yand 34. A locking means in which such required added force is on the order of 15 pounds has proved satisfactory.
It is desirable that the connector portion 14 present as little aerodynamic drag as possible when the drone is disconnected from the parent aircraft, and that such connector portion be shielded at least to a large extent from the atmosphere. To :accomplish these results, connector portion 14 is provided with an annular cap member 46 which is mounted within yshell 34, such cap member being retractable upon the insertion of hood 39 into shell 34 and advanceable into operative shielding position upon the withdrawal of the hood 39 therefrom. Cap 46 has an inner circular cylindrical portion 49 which accurately slidingly tits within shell 34. Outwardly of portion 49, cap 46 is flanged inwardly at 50. Beyond portion 50 the cap extends generally axially in an annular portion 51 of smaller diameter, the cap terminating in an outer annular incurled end 52.
Cap 46 is normally urged into the outermost position thereof, shown in FIG. 3, by ya coil compression spring 47 positioned in the annular space 'between outer shell 34 and inner shell 35 and insert 36 carried thereby, the inner end of the spring abutting the flange 33 on shell 35 and the outer end of the spring abutting the flanged portion 50 of the cap. The cap is held in the outer position shown in FIG. 3, when the portions 12 and 14 of the connector are disengaged, by reason of the engagement between flange portion 50 of the cap and the inner annular edge or shoulder of thickened portion 44 of shell 34. The diam'- eter of portion 51 of the cap is such that it is snugly received within spring ring 42 when the cap is in its outer position, and the inner diameter of the outer end portion 52 of the cap is such as snugly 'but -slidingly to receive insert 36. Thus, with the cap in its outer position, an effective substantial seal, which prevents the entry of rain, snow, and the like, is presented between the outer end of shell 34 and insert 36.
The diameter of the outer end of hood 39 is substantially equal to that of the central portion of part 52 of the cap. Thus, when parts 12 and 14 of the connector are brought into engagement, the hood 39 engages and presses cap 46 axially to retract it to the position shown in FIG. 1.
In order further to protect the parts from the atmosphere, particularly when they Iare fully engaged, shell 24 is provided with a boot member 60, made of rubber or the like, which has an outer end of frusto-conical shape when it is in relaxed position as shown in FIG. 2. The inner end of such boot, which is of cylindrical configuration, snugly engages the outer surface of shell 24 beneath a flange 58 thereof, land is held on the shell `by a ring clamp 61. When the connector parts are in operative engagement, the boot 60 will deform so that its outer portion is stretched to lie flat upon skin 11 of the drone, and thus effect a seal `between skin 11 and shell 24.
In the embodiment shown, the inner end of connector portion 14 is made in the form of a 4smaller pin connector, generally designated 53. Such smaller connector has an insulating insert 55 through which a central pin contact 56, integral with socket contact 37, extends. An outer metallic shell 54, integrally connected to shells 34 and 35, is provided with threads whereby to receive the nut of another, socket contact-carrying, connector part (not shown).
When the connector parts 12 and 14 are in mating engagement, the connector presents a complete radio-shielding of the circuit. Thus the shielding sheath of cable 20 is connected to metal Iferrule l19, which in turn is connected tothe metal enclosure formed by members 17 and 15. Member 21, within such enclosure, is connected to metal shell 24, which, when the connector parts are in operative mating engagement, has end engagement with metal shell 34 of connector part 14.
The mother and drone vehicles are connected on the ground. IIn effecting such connection, the connector parts :are initial-ly partially engaged, and the drone vehicle is then shifted as required relative to the mother vehicle to permit the releasable means 13 to be engaged. The yieldable mounting of connector part 12 allows considerable misalignment between the axis of opening 16 in skin 10 of the parent vehicle and the axis of connector part 14 when releasable means 13 are engaged without injury to the connector parts.
Although only one embodiment of the invention has been illustrated in the accompanying drawings and described in the foregoing specification, it is to be expressly understood that various changes, such as in the relative dimensions of the parts, materials used, and the like, as well as the suggested manner of use of the apparatus of the invention, may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as will now be apparent to those skilled in the art.
What is claimed is:
1. In the combination of a first Iand a second body adapted selectively to be secured together with the surfaces of the bodies in close confronting relationship or separated from each other, releasable means to secure the bodies together, `and circuits in the two bodies adapted to 'be electrically connected to each other when the bodies are secured together, the improvement which comprises a separable electrical connector having mating parts mounted on the respective bodies, a first one of the connector part-s being rigidly secured to the first body, the other, second, of the connector p-arts being retractably mounted on the second body, resilient means mounted inwardly of the 4second body constantly urging said second connector part outwardly of the second body, each connector part comprising a shell, the shell of the second connector part extending outwardly through an opening in the side of the second body, a resilient electrically insulating member within each of the shells', and a contact within each of the insulating members and supported by and having a portion surrounded by the respective insulating member, one of said contacts being a pin contact and the other of the contacts being a socket contact receiving the pin contact, the insulating members being sealed to their respective bodies and having end engagement when the bodies are secured together and the connector parts a-re engaged, said resilient means lurging the insulating members sealingly together when the bodies are secured together and the connector parts are in mating engagement.
2. The apparatus -as claimed in claim l, wherein the opening in the side of said second body markedly exceeds the diameter of the shell passing therethrough, and comprising a flange extending generally radially outwardly from the second shell inwardly of the second body, and a coil compression spring within the second body and acting between the lli-ange and an abutment attached to the second body, whereby to urge the said second shell outwardly of the second body and to provide for its limited universal movement with respect to the second body.
3. The apparatus as claimed in claim 2, wherein the flange forms the end wall of a cup-like member having an upstanding side wall coaxial with the shell to which the fiange is attached, the cup-like member has an inner diameter appreciably exceeding that of the shell, and one end of the spring fits .guidingly within the side Wal-l of the member.
4. The apparatus as claimed in claim 3, wherein the other end of the spring engages a transverse abutment se- 6 cured to the said respective body, and comprising a flexible lconductor extending through .and sealed to said abutment and connected to the said second connector part mounted on said second body, and a flexible sealing boot surrounding the flexible conductor and sealed to the abutment and to said second connector part.
5. 'In the combination of two bodies adapted selectively to be secured with the surfaces of the bodies in close confronting relationship or separated from each other, releasable means to secure the .bodies together, and circuits in the two bodies adapted to be electrically connected to each other when the bodies are secured together, the improvement which comprises a separable electrical connector having mating parts mounted on the respective bodies, one of the parts having a pin contact and the other of the parts having a socket contact receiving the pin, each such part having a shell, the axially outer end of the first part being located substantially iiush with the surface of the body on which it is mounted, the first shell, of the first part, having .a radially outer cylindrical sleeve portion and a radially inner socket mounting sleeve portion coaxial of and markedly spaced from the radially outer portion, an annular cap reciprocably mounted lin the space between said radially inner and outer portions of the shell, and resilient means constantly urging the captoward an outer terminus generally iiush with the axially outer end of said radially outer portion of the said first shell, the second shell, of the second connector part, having lan annular hood disposed labout and spaced from the contact pin of the second connector part, the hood being rigidly connected to the second shell, said hood being received in the .annular space in the shell of the first part and markedly depressing the cap thereof when the two connector parts are mating relationship, resilient electrically insulating members sealedto their respective bodies', supporting the pin and socket, and surrounding portions thereof, said resilient insulating members having end engagement when the bodies are secured together and the connector parts are engaged, and means resiliently urging the insulating members sealingly together when the bodies are secured together and the connector parts are in mating engagement.
6. Apparatus as claimed in claim 5, wherein the socket extends to a location adjacent the axially outer end of the first shell, the socket is mounted in a first electrically insulating sleeve having its end secured to the axially inner portion of the first shell, the pin is mounted in a second electrically insulating sleeve secured within the second shell, and the two sleeves have sealing end engagement when the connector parts are in fully engaged mating relationship.
7. Apparatus as claimed in claim 6, comprising means releasably connecting the two connector parts together when they are in fully engaged mating relationship.
8. In the combination of a first and a second broadsurfaced body adapted selectively to be secured together with the surface of the bodies in close confronting generally parallel relationship or separated from each other, releasable means to secure the bodies together, and circuits in the two bodies adapted to be electrically connected to each other when the bodies are secured together, the improvement which comprises a separable electrical connector having mating parts mounted on the respective bodies, a first one of the connector parts being rigidly secured to the first body and disposed generally normal to the surface thereof, the other, second, of the connector parts being retractably mounted on the second body and disposed generally normal to the broad surface thereof, resilient means mounted on the second body constantly urging said second connector part outwardly of the second body, each connector part comprising a shell, the shell of the second connector part extending outwardly of the board surface of the second body, a resilient electrically insulating member within each of the shells, and a contact within each of the insulating members and supported by the respective insulating member, one 0f said contacts being a pin contact and the other of the contacts being a socket contact receiving the pin contact, the insulating members being sealed to their respective bodies and having end engagement when the bodies are secured together by the releasable means and the connector parts are engaged, said resilient means urging the insulating members sealingly together when the bodies are secured together and the connector parts are in mating engagement.
9. The apparatus as claimed n claim 8, comprising means mounting the second one of the connector parts on its respective body, said last named means including said resilient means and being s0 constructed and arranged as to provide for limited universal movement of the second connector part relative to its respective body.
References Cited in the tile of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS Woernley Oct. 18, 1921 Warren Aug. 26, 1941 Humphrey Feb. .21, 1956 Klostermann July 3l, 1956 Klostermann Aug. 28, 1956 Melcher Sept. 4, 1956 Eaton Dec. 25, 1956 Flanagan Mar. 10, 1959 Johnson May 31, 1960 FOREIGN PATENTS France Mar. 16, 1959