US 3345604 A
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0 1967 H. E. HE INSCHEN ETAL 3,345,604 j ELECTRICAL CONDUCTOR I Filed April 8, 1966 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 1967 H. E. HENSCHEN ETAL 3,345,604
ELECTRICAL CONDUCTOR Oct. 3
4 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed April 8, 1966 Oct. 3, 1967 HENSCHEN ETAL 3,345,604
ELECTRICAL CONDUCTOR 4 Sheets-Sheet 3 Filed April 8, 1966 Oct. 3, 1967 Filed April 8, 1966 H-E.HENSCHEN ETAL ELECTRICAL CONDUCTOR 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 United States Patent 3,345,604 ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR Homer Ernst Henschen and Marvin Leo Yeager, Carlisle, Pa., assignors to AMP Incorporated, Harrisburg, Pa. Filed Apr. 8, 1966, Ser. No. 541,373 6 Claims. (Cl. 339-186) This invention relates to multi-electrical connector assemblies of the type comprising a pair of engageable connector parts, each part containing a plurality of contact terminals.
An object of the invention is to provide an electrical connector assembly comprising a pair of connector parts, each part containing contact terminals in an arrangement such that the terminals of the two parts can be engaged with, and disengaged from each other while the connector parts are coupled. A further object is to provide a multicontact electrical connector having improved coupling means for the contact terminals which permits coupling and de-coupling of the contact terminals with a relatively low force. A further object is to provide a connector assembly which is virtually completely foolproof and the parts of which can be coupled and de-coupled by inexperienced personnel. A further object is to provide a connector assembly comprising connector parts which cannot be mated with each other unless the parts are in the proper orientation and are properly aligned with each other. A further object is to provide a connector assembly in which the contacts are protected against damage as a result of careless or abusive handling.
These and other objects of the invention are achieved in a preferred embodiment comprising a pair of connector parts, each of which comprises a shell and an insert in the shell containing the contact terminals. The shell members have interengaging means on their mating ends, this interengaging means being arranged such that the two shells can be coupled to each other by positioning them in opposed but offset relationship, moving them towards each other, and finally, moving them laterally with respect to each other. The insert means in one of the shell members is movable relatively towards and away from the mating end of the one shell member and means are provided for preventing coupling or engaging of the shells with each other when this movable insert means is in its forward position. The shells of the connectors can thus be engaged with each other only when this movable insert means is in its retracted position. After the shells have been engaged, the contacts can be coupled by manipulation of a moving means for moving the insert in the shell. The contacts can thus be electrically engaged and disengaged while the two parts of the connector are coupled to each other.
In the drawing:
FIGURE 1 is a perspectiveview of a connector assembly in accordance with the invention showing the two connector parts coupled to each other;
FIGURE 2 is a view similar to FIGURE 1 but with some parts partially exploded and showing thetwo connector parts disengaged from each other;
FIGURE 3 is a sectional side view showing the two connector parts mechanically engaged with the contact terminals disengaged from each other;
FIGURE 4 is a view similar to FIGURE 3 but showing the positions of the parts when the contact terminals are engaged with each other;
FIGURE 5 is a view taken along the lines 55 of FIGURE 4; and
FIGURE 6 is a fragmentary sectional side view showing details of the mating ends of the shells.
Referring first to FIGURES 1 and 2, a preferred connector assembly 2 in accordance with the invention com- 3,345,634 Patented Oct. 3, 1967 prises a panel-mounted connector part 4 and a part 6 which can be coupled to and de-coupled from the part 4. The part 4 comprises a shell or frame having vertical sides 10 and upper and lower sides .12. This shell, and the shell of the part 6, may be of metal or of a suitable plastic such as a firm nylon. Ledges 14 (FIGURE 4) extend between the opposed internal faces of the sides 10 at the upper and lower ends of the shell and a plurality of spaced-apart openings 16 are provided in these ledges for mounting modules 18 which collectively comprise the insert. Suitable contact terminals, comprising contact sockets in the disclosed embodiment, are contained in these modules as shown. The modules have ears 20 (FIGURE 4) on their ends which extend over the ledges 14 and mounting bolts 22 extend through these openings, and through the openings in the ledges 14. As shown in FIGURE 5, the openings 16 are enlarged at their rearward ends and nuts 24 are threaded on the bolts 22 to hold the modules in the shell member. The mounting bolts 22 are then extended through suitable holes in panel 8 and additional nuts 28 are threaded on the ends 26 of the bolts to hold the entire assembly on the panel 8 and in alignment with an opening therein through which the Wires attached to the contact sockets extend. It will be understood that the panel 8 might comprise a housing or cabinet for any conventional type of electronic equipment such as a computer, an electronic control apparatus, etc.
The upper side 12 of the shell is provided with square bosses 30 at the corners thereof and adjacent to the mating end of the shell and the vertical sides 10 are pro vided with similar bosses 32 at the lower end of the shell. An additional boss 34 is provided on one of the sides 10 at the upper end thereof to prevent improper mating of the two connector parts as will be described below. Slots 39 are also provided on the opposed faces of the sides 10 to receive portions of the slidable insert means of the connector part 6 as will also be described below.
A keying pin 36 is mounted in one of six holes 40 on the upper side 12 of shell 4, these holes being arranged in a circular pattern as shown. This keying pin can thus be mounted in any one of six positions in the embodiment shown for cooperation with a keying socket on the connector part 6. A
The connector part 6 is composed of two half sections which abut each other in a vertical axial plane 44 and which are held together by suitable screws indicated at 42. This connector part comprises a shell portion 46 and an integral rearwardly extending shield portion. The shell portion comprises vertical sides 48 and an upper side 50, the lower end of the shell portion being open as shown best in FIGURE 6.
A pair of spaced-apart openings 54 are provided on the side 50 which are spaced inwardly from the mating end of the shell portion and a pair of recesses 56 (FIGURE 6) are provided on the internal surface of the sides 48. These recesses extend upwardly from the open lower end of the shell portion. The openings 54 are adapted to receive the bosses 30 and the recesses 56 are adapted to receive the bosses 32 of the panel mounted connector part. A slot 58 (FIGURE 6) extends inwardly on the right-hand side 48, as viewed in the drawing, to receive the boss 34, this slot being directed upwardly at its inner end as shown at 60 so that the boss can seat in this upwardly directed portion when the parts are coupled.
A hexagonal recess is provided on the inner surface of the side 50 in which there is mounted a hexagonal block 62 having a circular opening 64 adapted to receive the keying pin 36. The block 62 can be mounted in any one of six orientations to receive the similarly oriented pin 36 of the connector part 4. Where two or more connectors are mounted adjacent to each other, the keying pin 36 and the key socket 64 of each pair can thus be arranged such that cross-mating cannot take place.
The shield portion of the connector part 6 extends rearwardly from the shell section and comprises a top wall 66, depending sidewalls 68, and a bottom wall 70 (see FIGURE 3). A pair of slidable frame parts 72, 74 are mounted against the internal surfaces of the side walls 68 and are substantially similar to each other so that a description of one will sutfice for both. The frame part 72 (FIGURES 3 and 4) thus comprises a stamping of sheet metal which generally conforms to the cross-sectional shape of the cavity formed by the hood and has bearing edges 76, 78, 80, 82 which engage ledge portions of the internal surface of the sidewall so that it is guided in a straight line path towards and away from the shell portion of the housing. Additionally, a screw 84 extends through a slot 86 in the frame part 72 and into a blind threaded opening 87 in the sidewall to keep the frame part 72 disposed against the sidewall. An arm 88 extends forwardly from the leading edge of the frame part 72 and is adapted to enter one of the slots 39 of the connector part 4. Upper and lower laterally extending arms 90, 91 project transversely from the frame parts 72 and 74 and extend across the interior of the shell portion of the housing, the extensions 90, 91 overlapping and being disposed against complementary extensions 90, 91' of the other frame part 74 which is disposed against the opposite side of the shell portion. The extensions 90, 91 have a plurality of spaced-apart threaded holes 96 while the other extensions 90, 91 have slots 96. The modules 98 which contain contact pins in this instance have ears 99 extending from their opposite ends which bear against these extensions and the modules are secured to the extensions by means of screws 100 which extend through openings in the modules, through the aligned slots in the frame extensions 90, 91, and into the threaded holes in frame extensions 90', 91. It will be understood that the group of modules shown could be replaced by a single module insert if desired.
Rotatable hubs 102, 102' (FIGURE are mounted in circular openings 101 in the sidewalls 68 and cam pins 104 extend through vertical slots 108 in the frame members and are fastened into these hubs by means of screws 105. The cam pins 104 are eccentric with respect to the hub 102 so that when the hub is rotated, the cam pins will move along an arcuate path causing the frame parts 72, 74 to be moved towards or away from the mating end of the connector. A U-shaped handle 110 straddles the shield portion of the housing and has end portions 112 on its arms which are secured to the hubs 102 by screws 114. The arrangement is such that when the handle is swung to the limit of its clockwise motion and occupies the position of FIGURE 3, the slidable frame assembly including the modules and contact terminals is in its retracted position. The slidable frame is in its forward position with the contacts fully engaged when the handle is rotated counterclockwise to the position shown in FIG- URE 4. The arrangement is advantageously such that the cam pins 104 move over center as is shown in FIGURE 4 when the handle is in the position of FIGURE 4 and the insert is in its forward (contacts engaged) position. The advantage of moving these camming pins over center is that the insert assembly (including the contact pins) cannot be moved to the retracted position by merely pulling on the cable. In other words, if the pin 104 were not slightly over-center in FIGURE 4, it might be possible to pull rightwardly on the cable and thereby move the plates 72, 74, the modules 98, and the contact pins rightwardly, the pins 104 causing the handle to be cammed through a clockwise arc during such movement of the insert. It should be added that this possibility of disengaging the contact pins by pulling on the cable is avoided if the pins 104 are in exact dead center when the parts are in the position of FIGURE 4; it is advantageous to design the parts such that the pins 104 are moved overcenter to provide a safety factor.
A suitable two-part cable clamp 116, 118 is mounted on the rearward ends of the frame parts 72, 74 by means of slots 120 in these frame parts. This cable clamp extends beyond the rearward end of the hood portion at all times but is movable with the frame assembly so that its location relative to the hood gives immediate visual indication of the positions of the contacts, i.e., indicates whether or not the contact pins are engaged with the contact sockets. If desired, the portion 122 of the cable clamp can be painted a distinctive color to give a clear indication of the condition of the contacts.
In use, and when it is desired to engage the two connector parts with each other, the handle is first rotated clockwise to the position shown in FIGURE 3 in which the insert means in the part 6 is retracted. The part 6 is thereafter held in opposed offset relationship to the part 4 in a position that allows the polarizing pin 34 to enter the slot 58 thereby permitting part 6 to be moved relatively towards the part 4 until the bosses 30, 32, 34 are in alignment with the complementary openings and recesses 54, 56, and 60. The part 6 is then lowered until the bosses enter the openings and recesses 54, 5'6, and 60. Also, the keying pin 36 enters the hole 64 in the keying plug 62. The two connector parts will be mechanically mated although the electrical contacts will be disengaged from each other. When it is desired to complete the electrical circuits involved, the handle is merely rotated counter-clockwise from the position of FIGURE 3 to the position of FIGURE 4 to cause the movable insert to move forwardly with respect to its shell.
It is virtually impossible to engage the connector part 6 with the connector part 4 if the procedure outlined above is not followed. For example, if the operator should attempt to engage the two parts of the connector with each other when the movable insert is in its forward position, the extensions 88, 88 of the frame members 72, 74 will function as a stop means and bear against the sides of the shell of the part 4 before the bosses 30 and 32 are aligned with their complementary openings and recesses. It is thus impossible to couple or engage the contact terminals of the two parts with each other while the two connector parts are being mechanically engaged. The boss 34 interferes with any attempt to move the parts towards each other when they are not properly axially aligned since this boss must enter the slot 58 during movement of the parts towards each other. Thus, if the operator should invert the part 6 with respect to the part 4 and attempt to engage the two parts, such engagement would be prevented since one of the bosses 32 would bear against one side of the shell portion of part 6.
It will be noted that the bosses 30, 32 bear all of the reaction thrust when the handle 110 is swung to engage the contacts in the part 6 with the contacts in the part 4. The keying arrangement (the pin 36 and the socket 62) prevents mechanical engagement of the parts 4, 6 of dilferently keyed connectors which are located near to each other. It follows that it is impossible to damage the contacts in two different connector parts by an attempted forced mismating since no thrust for mating the contacts can be developed when the connector parts are not mechanically engaged.
Since the modules 98 are supported on the frame members 72, 74, and these frame members are accurately guided during movement towards and away from the mating end of the connector, there is no danger of misaligned loading of the contacts causing the modules to be cocked dur ng mating of the parts. Thus, relatively large contacts havmg a high insertion force can be used in one or more of the modules at the same time a large number of small contacts having a low insertion force are used in the remaining modules.
Disengagement or decoupling of the contact terminal in the inserts is impossible while the contacts are engaged and the handle is in the position of FIGURE 4. Decoupling of the two parts of the connector can thus be brought about only by a deliberate premeditated series of manipulative operations. A connector in accordance with the invention provides a high degree of assurance against accidental disengagement although the manipulative steps required can be easily understood and carried out by inexperienced personnel.
Finally, it should be noted that the arms 88, 88' will bear any upward force on the part 6 if this part should be pulled upwardly while the contacts in the parts are engaged with each other and the contacts themselves will not be stressed to any substantial degree. This feature, like many of the other features described above, renders the connector suitable for use by inexperienced or non-technical personnel.
Changes in construction will occur to those skilled in the art and various apparently different modifications and embodiments may be made without departing from the scope of the invention. The matter set forth in the foregoing description and accompanying drawings is oifered by way of illustration only. The actual scope of the invention is intended to be defined in the following claims when viewed in their proper perspective against the prior art.
1. A multi-contact electrical connector comprising, a pair of connector shells, said shells having interengaging means on their mating ends, said interengaging means comprising external boss means on one of said shells and opening means in the other one of said shells, said opening means being adapted to receive said boss means and being located inwardly from the mating end of said other shell whereby, said shells can be engaged with each other only by moving said shells towards each other while they are in aligned offset relationship until said boss means is in registry with said opening means and then moving said shells laterally and into axial alignment with each other to move said boss means relativly into said opening means, insert means in each of said shells, one insert means in one of said shells being axially movable within said one shell between a forward position and a retracted position, insert moving means for shifting said one insert means between said positions, and stop means on said one insert means for preventing engagement of said shells with each other when said one insert means is in said forward position whereby, said connector shells can be engaged with each other only when said one insert means is in said retracted position, and contact terminals in said insert means can be engaged with and disengaged from each other while said shells are engaged by shifting said one insert means.
2. A device as set forth in claim 1 wherein said one insert means includes cable clamping means at the rearward end thereof, said cable clamping means extending rearwardly beyond said one shell whereby the relative position of said cable clamp with respect to said shell indicates the position of said insert means in said one shell.
3. A device as set forth in claim 1 including handle means on said one shell for moving said insert means between said forward and retracted positions.
4. A device as set forth in claim ll wherein said stop means comprises an'arrn on said one insert means extending therebeyond and towards the mating end of said one shell, a slot in the other of said shells for reception of said arm, said arm being movable into said slot only when said shells are engaged with each other and are axially aligned with each other.
5. A device as set forth in claim 1 including keying means for preventing mismating of either of said shells with the shells of adjacent identical connectors, said keying means comprising a projection on one of said shells and an opening in the other of said shells adapted to receive said projection, said projection extending parallel to said boss means.
6. A keying system for a multi-contact electrical connector, said connector comprising a pair of engageable shells, one of said shells having boss means on its external surface and the other one of said shells having opening means for reception of said boss means, said opening means being located inwardly from the mating end of said other shell whereby, said shells can be engaged with each other only by moving said shells relatively towards each other while they are in aligned olTset relationship until said boss means is in registry with said opening means and then moving said shells laterally and into axial alignment with each other to move said boss means relatively into said opening means, and keying means comprising a projection on one of said shells and a second opening means on the other of said shells, said projection extending parallel to said boss means, said projection and said opening being selectively positionable in one of several positions on their shells whereby adjacent connectors having their openings and projections in different positions cannot he cross mated.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,422,241 7/1922 Tomlinson 339-49 X 2,449,660 9/1948 Lawhorne 339- X 2,724,093 11/1955 Preston 339-111 X 3,034,089 5/1962 Curtis 339-91 X 3,179,738 4/1965 De Lyon 339-186 MARVIN A. CHAMPION, Primary Examiner. J. R. MOSES, Assistant Examiner.