US 3594695 A
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United States Patent Inventor Delbert R. Wofford Owensboro, Ky. Appl No 798,738 Filed Feb. 12. 1969 Patented July 20, 1971 Assignec Texas Gas Transmission Corporation Owensboro, Ky.
HERMAPHRODlTlC ELECTRICAL CONNECTORS 7 Claims, 4 Drawing Figs.
[1.8. CI 339/49, 339/45, 339/182 Int. Cl ..H0lrl3/62, HOlr 25/00 Field of Search 339/47- References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,838,739 6/1958 Winkler 339/47 2,963,677 12/1960 Kallenbom .7 339/48 X 3,080,544 3/l963 Stott et a]. 339/48 2,469,397 5/1949 Mezekv 339/l98 G FOREIGN PATENTS 483,151 9/l929 Germany 339/48 Primary ExaminerStephen J Novosad Assistant ExaminerTerrell P Lewis Attorney-Laurence R. Brown ABSTRACT: An elongated semicylindrical or plate insulating member has disposed along it in two different positions along the length contacts comprising a male and a female plug connector so that two similar members can be slid together longitudinally along mating surface portions to contact and register the plug connectors. Locking means is provided'to hold the connectors in place. The male contact is protected from damage by an enveloping hood and the protruding insulating member portion has a female contact so that the contact surfaces are not easily touched or damaged.
PATENTEB M20871 594 695 [NVENTOR DELBERT R. WOFFORD ATTORNEY HERMAPHRODITIC ELECTRICAL CONNECTORS This invention relates to electrical connectors, and more particularly it relates to hermaphroditic plugs for connecting two or more wires.
In the prior art construction of plug connectors several deficiencies exist. In many configurations plugs are not easily registered or simply connected. The terminal connector surfaces may also be exposed in such a manner to become bent, corroded or contacted when connected to a power source, thereby contributing to the problem of mating or registering the contact surfaces with an optimum conductive connection.
When two cables or units are connected together by a plug member it is difiicult to provide simplified locking structure for retaining the members in mated contact and permitting manual release, particularly where plugs are confined in limited space. The ability to make many side-by-side connections is also restricted by many plug designs.
A single universal hermaphroditic plug structure is desired to provide for connections at both contacting surfaces with a plug of similar construction, thus reducing costs of tools and spare part maintenance.
Accordingly it is an object of this invention to provide improved connectors solving these deficiencies of prior art devices.
Another object of the invention is to provide plugs simple to construct, low in cost and adaptable for making a multiplicity of connections.
It is an object of the invention to provide connectors easily mated, yet with structure protecting contactor surfaces from damage and access.
Further features, objects and details of the connectors afforded. by this invention are to be found throughout the following description of the preferred embodiments shown in the accompanying drawing. The improved and simplified connector structure has two or more contacts disposed at different linear positions at one or more levels along an elongated insulating member body presenting a flat registration surface disposed longitudinally parallel to the axis of the elongated member.
IN THE DRAWING FIG. I is a partial perspective view looking into the connection end of a connector constructed in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 2 is a broken away view in section of a modified connector structure taken along the axis plane 2-2 of FIG. 1 passing through the contact structure;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a modified connector embodiment; 5 and FIG. 4 is a partial view in elevation as referred to the embodiment of FIG. 3 of a manual locking lever afforded by the invention. lt may be seen from H08. 1 and 2 that the plug comprises an elongated insulating member 8 disposed along axis 2-2 to present a longitudinally extending flat surface 9 generally parallel with the axis. The insulating member may be semicylindrical in shape to form the core within a cylindrical protective insulating hood portion 10, which serves as a receptacle guide to receive and register a mating member 8 of a similar connector with the flat surfaces 9 in face-to-face contact.
Two connector contact members ll, 12 are disposed lon gitudinally along the insulating member with such metallic electrically conducting surfaces present to mate with similar surfaces on an identical plug connector andform connections between at least two wires l4, 15 extending from the respective contact members. As shown, these contact members have their connector and surfaces disposed at different levels with respect to the flat surface 9. Thus male member 12 protrudes from the surface 9 and female member 11 in indented into the surface 9. Male member 9 comprises, for example, a flat plate with a tab 16 for connecting a wire lead, and female member 11 may comprise a U-shaped leaf spring receptacle plug with connector tab 17.
By indenting female plug 11 in the end of the insulating member 8, it is protected from inadvertent electrical contact in the event the cable is connected to a power source and is not easily bent or subject to contamination by corrosion or handling. Preferably in a two-wire plug, this is the ground connector and the hot wire connector is male plug member 12, which is protected by hood 10 from being bent or touched.
In the version shown in FIG. 2, the male plug member 12 is pushed away from surface 9 by spring 20 shown as a coil spring here, but which could comprise a suitable leaf spring. This structure cooperates with the recessed cavity 21 disposed away from the end 22 of insulating member 8 to form a closed rim 23 for locking two connectors together in mated position. If the end is open as shown in FIG. I, the members may be more easily registered and slid together, but might require other means for locking them together.
The insulating member 8 may be in the form of thin flat wafer plates 8', 8" etc. shown in FIG. 3 to permit side-by-side mounting in sandwich form when a large number of connections are desired in a small space. Apertures 30 may be provided for fastening the plates together. Further apertures 31 and 32 are defined for registration locking pins and a retained plug 33 may be provided for pushing away the end ofa mating connector while disconnecting.
FIG. 4 shows a manually operable lever 34 that can be used with each wafer plate 8', 8" etc. for locking two of them in mating position and for disconnecting them. Two levers 34 at opposite corners of two mating wafter plates 8' would need be operated to release or unlock the mated connectors. This lever 34 is pivoted about pin 35 against the force of a bias member such as leaf spring 36 when tab 37 is forced away from the connector insulating member arm surface 38. This retracts pin 39 from the mating aperture 32 of a mated insulating connector body 8A in the first portion of the motion and thereafter forces cam member 40 against'retained pin 33 to push it against the end (not shown) of body 8A to force it away from the mated position.
From the description of these embodiments it may be seen that several novel features are presented. The alignment of the contacts H and 12 axially along the two longitudinal members of hermaphroditic design permits a construction of high strength and durability with compact dimensions and protection from connector damage or shock. The recessed female contact design 11 and retractable male contact design l220 permit the members to be locked together simply. Coded ridges, grooves or curved mating surfaces may be employed if desired fully equivalent to the flat mating surfaces described, and equivalent hoods 10, contacts 111, 12 and insulation members 8 of different shape can be visualized in connectors provided by this invention with contacts disposed at longitudinally spaced positions in one or more levels along a linear holder member for mating hermaphroditically.
ln the claims:
l. A hermaphroditic connector with a cable at an inner end and a plug portion at the outer end comprising in combination, an insulating member having a generally flat surface disposed along an elongated linear axis supporting at least two electrical contact members disposed longitudinally at different positions along its axial length in such positions and having such mating structure that two similar connectors register in mating position with the insulating members coming together in axial sliding contact of the two flat surfaces and with the contact members physically touching to make electrical connection between the two connectors said flat surface having at the terminal axial end thereof up axial open endedslot defined therein, wherein one contact member comprises a male member protruding from said flat surface and another contact member comprises a recessed female member with the female contact member disposed at the outer end of said elongatedlinear axis of said insulating member surface in said open ended slot in said flat surface registered in a position to receive the male member of a similar connector in a longitudinal axial sliding motion of the two flat surfaces of the two insulating members against each other.
2. A connector as defined in claim I wherein said insulating member is of semicylindrical construction surrounded at the inner end by a cylindrical protective insulating hood which receives and surrounds the outer plug end ofa similar connector, wherein the male member is located inside said hood.
3. A connector as defined in claim 1 including a protective hood stationarily fixed about only the male member and shaped as a receptacle with structure to receive in axial sliding registration thereinto only that the end portion of the insulating member of a further similar connection containing the open ended slot with the female contact therein.
4. A hermaphroditic connector comprising in combination, an insulating member having a generally flat surface disposed along an elongated linear axis supporting at least two electrical contact members at different positions along its length in such positions and having such mating structure that two similar connectors register in mating position with the contact members physically touching to make electrical connection between the two connectors wherein at least two apertures are provided through said insulating member positioned to register respectively with corresponding apertures in a mating plug member and an alongside wafer plate, a movable locking pin that extends through one said aperture in said insulating member of one connector to engage a mating aperture of an adjacent connector in locking position to hold the adjacent connectors in fixed relative position when two similar such connectors are positioned alongside each other.
5. A connector as defined in claim 4 including biasing means for holding said locking pin normally in a position extending from a surface of the insulating member which mates with a similar connector when two connectors are mated in registration.
6. A connector as defined in claim 4 wherein a manual lever member is coupled with said locking pin to permit selective movement of the pin into registration with the second said aperture in a similar mating connector.
7. A connector as defined in claim 6 including a cam operated member on said manual lever member serving to force two mated connectors apart in their axial direction.