US 3291926 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Dec. 13, 1966 NELSON 3,291,926
FLUID PROOF SWITCH Original Filed March 18, 1965 32 35 34 3? 33H 3| 29 28 24 27 25 I4 I3 l4 INVENTOR. ARTHUR L. NELSON ATTO RN EVS United States Patent 7 Claims. (Cl. 200-51) This application is a division of my co-pending patent application, Serial No. 265,881, filed March 18, 1963, now abandoned, and entitled, Electrical Connector.
This invention relates to electrical connecting and disconnecting devices in the form of switches and more particularly to a novel fluid proof switch for enabling connection and disconnection of two or more insulated wires in a liquid or gaseous environment without exposing the wires to the environment.
In my co-pending continuation application, Serial No. 490,256, filed September 27, 1965, and entitled, Fluid- Proof Connector, there is disclosed and claimed in considerable detail a novel connector which enables two wires to be electrically connected in a fluid environment such as underwater, the connection itself being completely fluid proof and maintained in a clean and dry condition. These advantages are realized essentially by providing an elongated plug and cooperating socket so designed that as the plug is inserted into the socket, the surface of the plug functions to wipe the interior wall of the socket free of all liquid and moisture, prior to effecting an actual electrical connection between contacts embedded respectively in the plug and interior wall of the socket.
There are many instances, however, in which it would be desirable to break the electrical connection elfected by a fluid proof connector of the foregoing type without having to remove the plug from the socket. The plug and socket, respectively, include exposed contact surfaces which, While completely shielded from water when the plug is inserted in the socket, are nevertheless exposed to water when the plug is separated from the socket. If power is applied to wires to be connected while a disconnection is being effected, after the plug is separated from the socket, the surrounding water could itself serve as a conductor or low impedance to power flow and essentially would function to ground the respective circuits.
Furthermore, if the connector is used in an explosive atmospheric environment, it is most important that the contacts be completely shielded when making or breaking the circuit to avoid explosions due to any possible arcing.
In addition to the foregoing, it would be desirable to provide a fluid proof connector as well as a switch in which multiple connections could be effected between several wires. Such is readily achieved with a fluid proof connector as described in the above-mentioned co-pending patent application by simply adding further plug contacts longitudinally along the elongated plug portion itself and providing additional socket contacts in the interior wall of the. socket spaced along the wall in corresponding longitudinal positions, all as described in the application. With such an arrangement, when the plug is wholly received within the socket, additional electrical connections are completed. On the other hand, should power exist on the various wires while the plug is being inserted into the socket, the first contact on the plug will engage the first contact in the socket, it will break its connection with the first contact and then successively engage the second and third and any additional contacts. In other words, the final connections between the desired wires are not actually completed until the plug is wholly received within the socket and some of the wires in the circuit will be connected to the other wires in the circuit in which an undesirable connection may be efiected during the plugging or unplugging operation.
With the foregoing considerations in mind, it is accordingly a primary object of the present invention to provide an improved fluid proof switch which also serves as a connector for multiple connections and yet in which a connection or multiple connections may be broken or disconnected without having to physically separate the plug and socket bodies themselves, all to the end that the various contacts are completely protected from the surrounding fluid even when they are in disconnected condition.
Another important object is to provide an underwater connector meeting the foregoing object which enables the connection of multiple conductors wherein no electrical connections are effected until after the plug is fully received in the socket so that there'are no inadvertent connections between wires during the plugging and unplugging operations.
Other objects of this invention are to provide an improved underwater switch also serving as a connector which is compact, completely fluid proof, and which meets the various other objects outlined in the above referred to co-pending application.
Briefly, these and other objects and advantages of this invention are attained by providing a plug body having an elongated plug of circular cross-section over substantially its entire length. At least one electrical plug con tact is embedded in the plug and has an exposed surface portion substantially flush with the surface portion of the plug at an area intermediate the ends of the plug. This exposed surface portion extends circumferentially about the plug for a first given distance. An insulated wire is connected internally to the plug contact within the plug body.
Cooperating with the plug body is a socket body including an elongated socket of circular cross-section throughout its length corresponding to the circular cross; section of the plug so that the plug is receivable in the socket in snug relationship therewith. A socket contact is embedded in the interior wall of the socket and has an exposed surface extending circumferentially about the Wall for a second given distance. An insulated wire is connected to this socket contact within the socket body.
The sum of the circumferential extents of the plug contact and the socket contact is less than 360.
With the foregoing arrangement, an electrical connection is elfected by urging the elongated plug into the elongated socket to a position in which the plug contact is juxtaposed the socket contact. After complete insertion of the plug in the socket, the plug may be rotated relative to the socket from a first position in which the exposed portion of the plug contact is circumferentially spaced from the exposed portion of the socket contact, to a second position in which these exposed portions are in electrical engagement. It is thus possible to effect a connection or a disconnection, thereby providing a switching action without having to remove the plug from the socket, but by simply rotating the plug through substantially 180,
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the elongated plug includes additional plug contacts similar to the first-mentioned plug contact spaced longitudinally along the plug and connected to additional insulated wires extending from the plug body. Similarly, the internal wall of the socket includes additional socket contacts embedded therein and having exposed portions in a manner similar to the first-mentioned socket contact and also connected to additional insulated wires extending from the socket body. By this arrangement, multiple connections may be 3 i made without inadvertent connections being effected during the insertion of the plug into the socket. In other words, the plug is longitudinally urged into the socket with the exposed plug contact surfaces oriented in a direction so as to not effect any engagement with the socket contacts. After the plug is completely received within the socket, it may then be rotated relative to the socket to bring thevarious plug contacts into electrical engagement with the socket contacts substantially simultaneously so that the desired connections between the multiple conductors or wires are effected.
In both forms of the invention, the contacts are completely watertight during the time that the plug is within the socket whether in connection or disconnected position.
The plug and socket construction also provide the various advantages for an underwater connection as fully described in the above referred to co-pending application.
A better understanding of the present invention will be had by now referring to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIGURE 1 is a side elevational view of a plug and socket body in connected condition for effecting multiple electrical connections between various insulated wires extending from the plug and socket bodies, respectively;
FIGURE 2 is a cross-section of the plug and socket bodies of FIGURE 1 in separated condition, some of the components being shown in full lines;
FIGURE 3 is a cross-section taken in the direction of the arrows 3-3 of FIGURE 2; and,
FIGURE 4 is a cross-section taken in the direction of the arrows 44 of FIGURE 2.
Referring first to FIGURE 1, there isshown a plug body 10 connected to a socket body 11 at a connection line 12. As shown, the plug body 10 includes insulated wires such as indicated by insulation 13 and various wires 14, 15, and 16 extending from the body. The socket body 11 includes an offset portion 17 from which similar insulated wires extend as shown by the insulation covering 18 and Wire conductors 19, 20, and 21. The plug body 10 and socket body 11 include indexing means 22 and 23, respectively, which may be in the form of simple arrows or markings so that the relative rotational position of the plug body in the socket body can be set.
When the plug body and socket body are oriented as illustrated in FIGURE 1, the various wires 14, 15, and 16 are respectively electrically connected to the wires 19, 20, and 21.
Referring now to FIGURE 2, it will be noted that the plug body includes an elongated plug 24 defining with the remaining portion of the body an annular shoulder 25. Embedded within the elongated plug 24 is a rigid conductor in the form of a tubular member 26 extending over a major portion of the length of the plug. An electrical plug contact 27 may constitute an enlarged peripheral portion of the tube 26 such that there is provided an exposed convex cylindrically shaped surface extending circumferentially about the plug 24 a given distance. As shown, the exposed surface of contact 27 is substantially flush with the remaining exterior surface of the plug and is disposed in an area intermediate the ends of the plug.
Also shown in FIGURE 2 are additional contacts 28 and 29 of similar exterior exposed configuration to the contact 27, these additional contacts extending about the plug 27 for given circumferential distances.
Electrical connections are effected between the various insulated wires 14, 15, and 16 and the plug contacts 27, 28, and 29 as follows. The wire 14 is connected directly to the rigid tubular member 26 and thus is electrically connected to the contact 27. The wires and 16, in turn, simply extend within the tubular member 26 being held in insulated relation thereto by the plug body interior and pass through suitable wall openings in the tubular member 26 to connect to the contacts 28 and 29, respectively. In the embodiment illustrated in FIGURE 2,
40 as the end 31.
55 plug moves therepast,
0 contacts will be juxtaposed the socket contacts.
ringshape with a major circumferential portion of the ring embedded within the plug so that the exposed portion defines the desired cylindrical convex surface extending over a limited circumferential distance.
Referring now to the socket body 11 -as shown in FIG- URE 2, it will be noted that the body includes an elongated socket 30 having opposite open ends 31 and 32. The socket 30 is of circular cross-section corresponding to the circular cross-section of the plug, and in the particular embodiment illustrated, this cross-section is consistent throughout the entire length of the socket as is the case with the cross-section of the plug.
Suitable socket contacts in the form of split rings 33, 34, and 35 are embedded in the interior wall of the 15 'socket 30 but have exposed inner cylindrical concave surfaces extending second given circumferential distances about the interior wall. It will be noted that the ring contacts 33, 34, and 35 are slotted or split as at 36, 37, and 38, respectively, so that they are each individually capable of circumferential expansion and contraction.
The respective contacts are connected to the insulated wires 19, 20, and 21 within the socket body 11 as shown.
With particular reference to the cross-sections of FIG- URES 3 and 4, it will be noted that the exposed convex circumferential extent of the plug contact such as the contact 28 as shown in FIGURE 3, extends for a first circumferential distance of'approximately 90, the remaining portion of the contact being fully embedded within the plug 24. The second given circumferential distance of the convex exposed surfaces of the socket contacts such as the contact 34, on the other hand, is approximately 180, the remaining portion of the contact being fully embedded within the socket body.
With the foregoing description of the various components in mind, the operation of the underwater switch of this invention will now be described. Assuming that the plug and socket bodies are underwater, a diver or other person to effect an electrical connection simply urges the elongated plug 24 into an open end of the socket, such As the end plug is urged into the socket, it is oriented in such a manner that the exposed portions of the contacts 27, 28, land 29 are circumferentially spaced from the exposed portions of the socket contacts 33, 34, and 35, this circumferential spacing in the embodiment shown being approximately 180. The orientation may readily be determined by simply positioning the arrow 22 on the opposite side of the arrow 23 as viewed in FIGURE 1.
As the elongated plug is received in the socket 30, water in the socket will be urged out the opposite open end 32 and the corresponding cross-sectional dimensions result in a very snug engagement such that the exterior walls of the elongated plug 24 will wipe clean the interior walls of the socket as well as the various socket contacts as the This wiping action is important in that it will dry and clean the contacts.
When the plug has been inserted to the extent that the shoulder 25 engages the periphery of the opening 31 so that the plug is entirely within the socket, the plug After the elongated plug 24 is completely inserted within the socket 30, the plug may be rotated approximately 180 until the arrows 22 and 23 of FIGURE 1 are in alignment. In this position, the various plug contacts 27, 28,
5 and 29 will effect electrical connection with the respective socket contacts 33, 34, and 35, thereby electrically connecting the conductors 14, 15, and 16 to the conductors 19, 20, and 21.
If it is desired to break the electrical connection, it is only necessary for the user to rotate the plug body apthe various contacts 27, 28, and 29 are shown to be of ential extent of the various contacts is concerned is that the total of the circumferential extent for any one plug contact and its corresponding socket contact be less than 360. It will be desirable that there be all-owed some rotative movement without making or breaking a contact and; therefore, to avoid the necessity of critical adjustments, the circumferential extent may be distanced such that the total of the circumferential distance is from approximately 180 to 270.
An important consequence of the particular configuration described is the fact that only electrical connections will be effected between desired ones of the respective wires, there being no inadvertent engagement of one of the wires with one of the other wires during the insertion or removal of the plug, provided that the plug body is in proper rotative position so that the contacts are circumferentially spaced during such insertion or removal. There is thus no making before breaking situations involved.
In addition to the foregoing features, it will be appreciated that the various advantages of balanced pressure permitting easy insertion and removal of the plug as a consequence of both ends of the socket being open at great depth underwater as well as the feature of increased water tightness with increased depth, all as described with respect to the underwater connector in applicants copending application are fully realized by the structure of the present invention.
While the cross-sectional area or diameter of the plug has been defined as corresponding substantially to the cross-sectional area orinternal diameter of the socket, it is meant by these terms that the dimensions are such as to realize the desired interference type fit or snug fitness configuration sufficient to provide a complete waterproofing. Thus, the socket could be purposely moulded to a slightly smaller internal diameter than the plug exter nal diameter, thereby resulting in a force-fit, the internal diameter expanding somewhat as a consequence of the resilient material of the socket. These very slight differences in diameter or cross-sectional areas are deemed to be encompassed within the statement that the areas or diameters substantially correspond.
What is claimed is:
1. A fluid proof switch comprising, in combination: an elongated plug of circular cross-section throughout substantially its length; at least one plug contact embedded in said plug and having an exposed surface substantially flush with a surface portion of said plug at an area intermediate the ends of said plug, said exposed surface extending circumferentially around said plug for a first given distance; a socket body including an elongated socket of circular cross-section throughout substantially its length corresponding to said circular cross-section of said plug so that said plug is receivable in snug relationship in said socket; and at least one socket contact embedded in the internal wall of said socket and having an exposed surface extending circumferentially about said wall for a second given distance, the sum of said first and second given distances being less than 360 whereby said plug may be rotated in said socket from a first position in which the exposed portion of said plug contact is circumferentially spaced from the exposed portion of said socket contact to a second position in which the exposed portion of said plug contact engages the exposed portion of said socket contact to thereby effect an elec trical connection of said plug contact to said socket contact.
2. An underwater switch for enabling connection and disconnection of at least two insulated wires while underwater without exposing said wires to the Water, comprising, in combination: a plug body including an elongated plug of circular cross-section having a uniform external diameter throughout substantially its length; an electrical plug contact embedded in said plug and having an exposed convex surface of cylindrical shape extending for a first given circumferential distance about a portion of said plug intermediate the ends of the plug in substantially flush relationship with the exterior surface of said plug, one of said two wires being electrically connected to said plug contact within said plug body; a socket body including an elongated socket of circular cross-section having a uniform internal diameter throughout substantially its length corresponding substantially to the external diameter of said plug; and an electrical socket contact embedded in the internal wall of said socket and having an exposed concave surface of cylindrical shape extending a second given circumferential distance about the interior wall of said socket intermediate the ends of said socket, the other of said two wires being electrically connected to said socket contact within said socket body, the sum of said first and second circumferential dfstances of the exposed surfaces of said plug and socket contacts being less than 360 whereby said plug may be urged into said socket in snug engagement therewith until said plug contact is juxtaposed, said socket contact and said plug then rotated relative to said socket from a first position in which the exposed portion of said plug contact is circumferentially spaced from the exposed portion of said socket contact so that no electrical connection is effected therebetween, to a second position in which the exposed portion of said plug contact engages the exposed portion of said socket contact so that an electrical connection is effected, the external surface portions of said plug on either side of said plug contact forming a watertight seal with the internal wall portions of said socket on either side of said socket contact.
3. An underwater switch according to claim 2, including additional plug contacts embedded along said plug and having exposed convex surface portions simiar to said first-mentioned plug contact; and additional insulated wires electrically connected respectively to said additional plug contacts within said plug body, said socket body including additional socket contacts embedded along the internal wall of said socket and having exposed concave surface portions similar to said first mentioned socket contact; and additional insulated wires electrically connected respectively to said additional socket contacts within said socket body, whereby multiple connections can be made between the insulated wires in said plug and the insulated wires in said socket upon rotation of said plug from said first to said second position without having any electrical connections effected during and prior to the time said plug is fully received in said socket.
4. An underwater switch according to claim 2, including a rigid tubular conductor embedded in said plug throughout a major portion of the length of said plug, said rigid conductor electrically connecting said plug contact to said one of said insulated wires and serving to lend rigidity to said plug.
5. An underwater switch according to claim 2, in which said socket communicates with the exterior of said socket body at a portion other than the opening into which said plug is inserted so that water in said socket is urged out of said socket as said plug is urged into said socket.
6. An underwater switch according to claim 2, including indexing means on the outer surfaces of said plug body and socket body such that when said plug is rotated to said second position, the indexing means on said plug body is juxtaposed the indexing means on said socket body.
7. An underwater switch according to claim 2, in which said plug defines an annular shoulder with a remaining portion of said plug body, said shoulder seating against the periphery of the opening in said socket into which said plug is urged when said plug contact is juxtaposed said socket contact.
No references cited.
ROBERT K. SCHAEFER, Primary Examiner. H. O. l ONES, Assistant Examiner.