US 3253252 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
May 24, 1966 J. PIPERATO ETAL SECTIONAL ELECTRICAL TERMINAL BLOCK 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed June 17, 1963 INVENTORS JAMES PIPERATO VICTOR ORZECHOWSKI BY 2 Z ATT R y 1966 J. PIPERATO ETAL 3,253,252
SECTIONAL ELECTRICAL TERMINAL BLOCK Filed June 1'7, 1963 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTORS JAMES PIPERATO VICTOR ORZECHOWSKI SECTIONAL ELECTRICAL TERMINAL BLOCK James Piperato, Plainfield, and Victor Orzechowslri, Jersey City, N.J., assignors to Buchanan Electrical Products Corporation, Hillside, N.J., a corporation of New Jersey Filed June 17, 1963, Ser. No. 288,287 4 Claims. (Cl. 339-498) The present invention relates generally to electrical connectors of the type employed in simultaneously detachably connecting a series of electrical conductors to a terminal strip to complete a series of electrical circuits and which are known as fanning strips. More specifically, the invention pertains to a fanning strip which may be built up to accommodate any desired number of circuits by providing identical individual connector elements which are so constructed as to be capable of being col ligated without the need for auxiliary hardware or accessories to establish a suitable integrated structure.
In many installations which require that a plurality of electrical circuit connections be made to external conductors it has been found convenient to terminate each such circuit in a terminal block which provides a terminal member through which an external electrical conductor may readily be connected to complete the circuit. A series of such terminal blocks are generally employed in the form of a terminal strip to accommodate the plurality of circuit connections. In order to simplify and expedite the connection of a multiplicity of such circuits while also alleviating the problem of assuring that the correct conductor is connected to each circuit, fanning strips or gang connectors have ben developed. Such fanning strips provide a given number of electrical contacts, each electrically insulated from the others and placed in a fixed arrangement corresponding to the arrangement of terminal members in the terminal strip. The conductors are terminated in the tanning strip, each conductor being electrically connected to a contact, and the contacts may be simultaneously detachably connected to the terminal strip to establish the. required multiple connections as desired.
Because of the variation in the number of such connections from installation to installation, terminal block components have been devised which are capable of being assembled to build up a terminal strip having any desired number of circuit connections. Since it is the function of a fanning strip to connect a given number of conductors to a terminal strip having a predetermined number of terminal members, it would be advantageous to have avail-able connector elements which could readily be assembled to establish a fanning strip with any desired number of properly oriented electrical contacts.
It is therefore an important object of the invention to provide a sectional electrical connector for use in detachably connecting a series of electrical conductors to a terminal strip having a corresponding series of spaced terminal members, the connector being readily built up of individual connector elements capable of being colligated to establish a connector having a desired number of spaced electrical contacts corresponding to the terminal members.
Another object of the invention is to provide a colligate electrical connector which is capable of readily being assembled without the necessity of auxiliary hardware, extra parts or special tools to establish the desired number of spaced electrical contacts therein, and which is easily disassembled to change the number of contacts as desired.
Still another object of the invention is to provide an electrical connector element so constructed as to be capable of easy assembly with like connector elements to United States Patent establish a sectional electrical connector having as many connector elements as desired.
In striving to achieve the above objectives, it has been found that certain synthetic resins which are ordinarily known to possess a degree of resiliency also demonstrate the ability to elastically resist deformation and thus establish an elastic reaction force when resiliently deformed. Interfitting configurations formed in such materials were found to demonstrate their ability to provide effective interlocking means for the assembly of like connector elements employing such configurations with the elastic reaction force providing the requisite rigidity in the assembled structure. The ability of the synthetic resin material to elastically resist deformation, yet provide sufficient resiliency to allow ready assembly of interfitting configurations without failure of the material, will be characterized by the word renitent and the property of the material which gives rise to this ability will be designated as renitence.
Thus, a further object of the invention is to provide a connector element having simplified means, fabricated of a renitent synthetic resin material, for elfecting the assem- 'bly of any desired number of such connector elements held together in a simple and effective manner, by virtue of the renitent nature of such means, to establish a colligate electrical connector having a series of connector elements therein.
A still further object of the invention is to provide means in a connector element fabricated of a renitent synthetic resin material for locating, securing and maintaining a series of like connector elements colligated in proper position within a sectional electrical connector.
An overall object of the invention is to accomplish all of the above objectives in a simple and effective manner by providing a simplified design and construction capable of being easily fabricated of reltaively few parts manufactured of relatively inexpensive materials.
Briefly, the invention provides means for selectively establishing a colligate electrical connector from a series of like connector elements, the colligate electrical connector having a series of spaced electrical contacts, each electrical connector element having a body of insulating material and an electrical contact secured therein. Such means generally comprise a key of renitent synthetic resin material in a first portion of the body of the connector element and a key slot, also comprised of a renitent synthetic resin material, having a configuration complementary to the key in a second portion of the body, the relative dimensions of the key and key slot being such that the key and key slot of like connector elements are capable, by virtue of such renitence, of cooperating in self-sustaining relationship to detachably retain such like connector elements in colligated arrangement. Complernentary means may also be provided integral with the key and key slot for coacting, when the key and key slot of like connector elements cooperate, to positively locate and secure such like connector elements relative to one another in the colligated arrangement, the complementary means being complementary detent components.
The invention will be more fully understood and additional objects and advantages will become apparent in the following detailed description of a preferred embodi-.
ment of the invention illustrated in the accompanying drawings in which:
FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of a partially assembled sectional electrical connector constructed in accordance with the invention and is partially diagrammatic to illustrate the use of the connector;
FIGURE 2 is an elevational cross-sectional view illustrating details of construction and use of the connector of FIGURE 1; and
FIGURE 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 33 of FIGURE 2.
Referring now to the drawings, and more specifically to FIGURE 1, a terminal strip is indicated at and is generally comprised of any desired number of terminal blocks 12 each of which has a terminal member 14 fixed within the dielectric material of the block (see FIGURE 2) so as to provide a series of spaced terminal members electrically insulated from one another. The blocks 12 may be fabricated integral with one another or assembled into a strip of predetermined length and fixed to a structure in an installation to suit the needs of that particular installation in providing the desired number of terminal members 14 for terminating the electrical circuits in the installation. As best seen in FIGURE 2, each of these circuits, represented by an insulated conductor 16, is terminated in a terminal block 12 by inserting each conductor 16 into a terminal member 14 and fixing the conductor therein, such as by providing a clamping screw 18, to mechanically secure and electrically connect the conductor 16 to the terminal member 14. An external conductor may readily be inserted into the opposite end of each terminal member 14 and mechanically and electrically secured therein by clamping screw 20' to complete each circuit to an external conductor. However, as explained hereinbefore, in order to simplify and expedite the connection of a multiplicity of such circuits while also assuring that the correct external conductor is connected to each circuit, a gang connector or fanning strip is generally provided and one such fanning strip, or electrical connector, constructed in accordance with the invention is indicated at in FIGURES l and 2.
Since the number of electrical connections, and hence the number of terminal blocks, in a terminal strip may vary from installation to installation, the invention contemplates a sectional electrical connector, or fanning strip, comprised of a plurality of individual connector elements which may be assembled with one another to form a colligate electrical connector having a series of connector elements corresponding to the number of terminal blocks in a particular installation. Thus, FIGURE 1 illustrates a sectional electrical connector 30 in the process of being built-up of individual electrical connector elements 32, each of the four illustrated electrical connector elements being individually designated as 32a, 32b, 32c and 32d, connector elements 32a and 32b having been fully colligated while connector elements 32c and 32d are shown partially assembled with the others in orderv to reveal certain details of the design and construction of the individual connector elements. In order to simplify the assembly of a colligate electrical connector having as many connector elements as desired, as well as minimize the cost of manufacture and supply, each connector element 32 is identical to the others.
Referring now to FIGURES l and 2, each connector element 32 is shown having a body 34 of insulating material which body has opposite parallel side walls 36 and 38, opposite ends 40 and 42 and a bottom '44. A recess 46 extends vertically from the bottom 44, leaving an end wall 48 and a side wall stabilizing bar 49, and houses a conductor receiving portion of an electrical contact 50, the conductor receiving portion being shown in the form of a socket 52, the entrance to which is adjacent end 40, having a clamping screw 54 therein for mechanically securing and electrically connecting an external conductor 56 thereto (see FIGURE 2). A spade-like terminal engaging portion 58 of the contact 50 is fixed to the socket portion 52 and passes through end wall 48 of the body 34 to project beyond the body so as to be receivable within the terminal member 14 wherein contact 50 may be clamped in place by means of clamping screw 20 to complete a circuit between each conductor 16 and each conductor 56 and detachably secure each connector element 32 to each terminal block 12.
In order to maintain'contact 50 firmly anchored within body 34 of each connector element 32, a tongue 60 is punched from the body of the spade-like portion 58 of the contact 50 (see FIGURES 2 and 3) so that the tongue 60 abuts the exterior of end wall 48 While socket 52 of the contact 50 lies against the interior of end wall 48 to maintain the contact 50 fixed in position within the body 34.
As best seen in FIGURE-S 1 and 3, means are provided in the side walls 36 and 38 of the body 34 of each connector element 32 for colligating the individual connector elements into a fanning strip having any desired number of spaced contacts. Since the fanning strip is moved into and out of engagement with the terminal strip as a whole and the bodies 32 are not fixed to any supporting structure which could serve to hold the connector elements firmly together, it is essential that the individual connector elements be held together in self-sustaining relationship and the means for so assembling the connector elements be capable of locating and securing each connector element 32 relative to the others to attain a structurally sound colligated electrical connector. Thus, side wall 36 of each connector element body is provided with a key 62, shown having a generally T-shaped cross-section in planes perpendicular to the plane of side wall 36. Opposite side wall 38 is provided with a key slot 64 having a configuration complementary to the key 62. Since all of the connector elements are identical, the key 62 of one connector element may be inserted into a key slot 64 of another connector element in interlocking arrangement therewith to colligate contiguous connector elements, as indicatedin FIGURES l and 3, into a fanning strip having any desired number of accurately spaced contacts 50 electrically insulated from one another.
As explained above, it is necessary for a mating key and key slot to fit together in such a way as to assure that the connector elements are firmly held together in interlocking, self-sustaining relationship. It has been found that the fit necessary to obtain the desired rigidity and self-sustaining properties in the assembled key and key slot may be attained by employing a renitent synthetic resin material at the key and key slot. A renitent synthetic resin material will resist deformation, yet provide sufiicient resiliency to allow the key to enter the key slot in a snug fit Without fracturing and without requiring an excessively high assembling force. Molded synthetic resins such as the polyamide resins known as nylon and the fluorocarbon resins available commercially under the name Teflon are but a few of the materials available which possess the requisite renitence. Additionally, these materials have good dielectric properties and possess a high degree of toughness. Other suitable materials will become apparent to those skilled in the materials art. For the purposes of describing the illustrated embodiment, it will be assumed, without limitation, that nylon is the material employed.
The configuration of the body 34 of each connector element 32 lends itself readily to being molded of a renitent synthetic resin in a unitary structure having an integral key 62 and key slot 64 as well as providing the necessary dielectric structure to assure that the contacts 50 of contiguous connector elements 32 will be electrically insulated from one another. By adjusting the relative dimensions of the key 62 and the key slot 64, the key of a first connector element may be made to fit tightly into the key slot of a second connector element, the renitent nature of the material allowing the assembly to be performed readily by 'hand and establishing a retentive force tending to maintain contiguous connector elements colligated in a sectional electrical connector of any desired length. Additionally, the relatively low coefiicient of friction of such materials as nylon and Teflon aid in easing the insertion of the key into the key slot.
In order to positively locate and secure each connector element relative to a contiguous connector element in a colligate electrical connector and thus preclude unwanted relative movement in directions parallel to the direction of the keys and key slots, detent means are provided and are illustrated in the form of depressions 66 located in each key 62 (see FIGURE 1 and 3) and corresponding projections 68 located in each key slot 64-. As shown, the depressions 66 and projections 68 are formed integral with the body 34, the renitent nature of the body material providing sufiicient resilience to ensure that the projections 68 will not prevent insertion of each key 62 into a key slot 64 but will cooperate With the respective depressions 66 to provide a retentive force tending to impede movement of the key within the key slot when contiguous connector elements are properly located relative to one another.
It will be apparent from the foregoing description that the invention provides effective means for selectively establishing a colligate electrical connector from a series of like connector elements. The connector elements are inexpensively fabricated and easily assembled to provide any predetermined number of electrical cont-acts in such a connector without the necessity of auxiliary hardware, extra parts or special tools.
It is to be understood that the above detailed description of an embodiment of the invention is provided by way of example only and is not intended to restrict the invention. Various details of design and construction may be modified without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.
1. A colligate electrical connector for use in detachably connecting a series of electrical conductors to a terminal strip having a corresponding series of spaced terminal members electrically insulated from one another, said connector comprising:
(A) a series of contiguous bodies of insulating material, each said body having opposite parallel side Walls and opposite ends;
(B) an electrical contact secured Within each said body to establish a series of spaced electrical contacts electrically insulated from one another and corresponding to the series of electrical conductors and spaced terminal members, each said contact having a conductor receiving portion adjacent one end of said body and a terminal engaging portion projecting beyond the opposite end of said body, the terminal engaging portions of all of said contacts projecting in parallel directions;
(C) a renitent synthetic resin key projecting from one side Wall of each said body and extending along a given direction parallel to said side wall;
(D) a renitent synthetic resin key slot within the opposite side Wall of each said body extending along a direction parallel to said given direction, said key slot having a configuration complementary to said key, the relative dimensions of said key and said key slot being such that the keys and key slots of contiguous bodies are capable of being interfitted by relative movement of said contiguous bodies parallel to said given direction and, by virtue of said renitence, interfit in self-sustaining relationship to detachably retain each said body colligated with a contiguous body and selectively maintain the terminal engaging portions of said contacts in a predetermined position to enable engagement with the series of spaced terminal members in mechanical and electrical connection therewith; and
(E) at least one detent component integral with said key slot and a complementary detent component provided in an interfitted key, said detent components lcooperatively engaging one another to positively locate each body relative to a contiguous body with said terminal engaging portions in said predetermined position and secure said contiguous bodies against unwanted relative movement parallel to said given direction.
2. A colligate electrical connector of claim 1 wherein each said interfitted key and key slot have interlocking cross-sections in planes perpendicular to said parallel side walls for precluding relative movement of said contiguous bodies in a direction normal to said parallel side Walls and consequent disassembly of said colligated bodies.
3. An electrical connector element capable of being selectively assembled with like connector elements to establish a colligate electrical connector for use in detachably connecting a series of electrical conductors to a terminal strip having a corresponding series of spaced terminal members electrically insulated from one another, said connector element comprising:
(A) a body of insulating material, said body having opposite parallel side walls and opposite ends;
(B) an electrical contact having a conductor receiving portion and a terminal engaging portion and being secured 'Within said body with said conductor receiving portion adjacent one end of said body and said terminal engaging portion projecting beyond the opposite end of said body;
(C) a renitent synthetic resin key projecting from one side wall of said body and extending along a given direction parallel to said side wall;
(D) a renitent synthetic resin key slot Within the opposite side wall of said body extending along a direction parallel to said given direction, said key slot having a configuration complementary to said key, the relative dimensions of said key and said key slot being such that the keys and key slots of like connector elements are capable of being interfitted by relative movement of said like connector elements parallel to said given direction and, by virtue of said renitence, are capable of readily being interfitted in self-sustaining relationship to detachably retain such like connector elements colligated so as to selectively maintain a series of electrical contacts in such position that the terminal engaging portions of said contacts are capable of engaging the series of spaced terminal members in mechanical and electrical connection therewith; and
(E) said key and said key slot each having at least one detent component integral therewith capable of cooperatively engaging a complementary detent component in a like connector element to positively locate such like connector elements relative to one another in said position and secure said like connector elements against unwanted relative movement parallel to said given direction.
4. An electrical connector element of Claim 3 wherein said key and said key slot have cross-sections in planes perpendicular to said parallel side walls capable of being interlocked with complementary cross-sections in like connector elements for precluding relative movement of such like connector elements in a direction normal to said parallel side walls when colligated and consequent disassembly of colligated connector elements.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,780,791 2/1957 Morschel 339-198 2,869,043 1/1959 Locher 339198.6 X 2,892,176 6/1959 Gordon 339198 2,903,671 9/1959 Dreher et al. 33 9198 2,922,139 1/1960 Ustin 339-498 2,928,066 3/1960 Gordon 339198 FOREIGN PATENTS 1,205,732 8/1959 France.
JOSEPH D. SEERS, Primary Examiner.
ALBERT H. KAMPE, A. S. TRASK,