US 3611255 A
Abstract available in
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Inventor Larry L. Shroyer Kendlllvllle, Ind.
Appl. No. 878,020
Filed Nov. 19, I969 Patented Oct. 5, 1971 Asslgnee Lynll Electric, Inc.
MOISTURE RESISTANT ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR 5 Claims, 3 Drawing Figs.
us. 01 339/60 11, 339/75 P 1m. 01 non 13/52,
HOlr 13/54 Field of Search V 339/59-61, 75, 91
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,124,405 3/l964 Massa 339/60 R 3,266,007 8/]966 Sullivan 339/6l FOREIGN PATENTS l,l 11,347 4/1968 Great Britain 339/6l R Primary Examiner-Joseph H. McGlynn Attorney-Jeffers and Riekert ABSTRACT: A moisture resistant electrical connector of partially conventional design but having improved moisture resistant characteristics is disclosed. The connector comprises first and second members having male and female electrical connectors disposed therein, one of said members having a forwardly extending surrounding portion which conforms to the lateral exterior of the other member and which serves to protect the connector from dirt and moisture as well as to improve the mechanical connection between the two members.
PATENTEI] mm s Ian INVENTOR LARRY 1.. SHROYER BYMAoML w ATTORNEYS MOISTURE RESISTANT ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The prior art electrical connectors and their defects may be most readily understood by considering a standard home extension cord type of connector. These connectors typically consist of two members one of which is provided with a pair of male connectors the other of which is provided with a pair of corresponding female electrical connectors. When the two halves of the prior art connector are mated there is a slight gap between the two members'which will allow moisture, dirt or even a paper clip to get in between the two abutting surfaces and short out the two conductors. The effectiveness of the mechanical connection between these prior art connectors is quite variable, some being almost impossible to separate while others will unplug or disconnect due to the weight of the connector and cord alone.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention overcomes the above noted prior art defects by providing an electrical connector having first and second members and corresponding male and female connectors disposed therein and additionally having a forwardly extending surrounding portion which conforms to the lateral exterior surface of the other member and serves to protect the connector from dirt, moisture, and other foreign matter as well as improving the mechanical connection between the two members.
Accordingly, it is one object of the present invention to provide an electrical connector having improved moisture resistant characteristics.
It is another object of the present invention to provide an improved electrical connector.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an electrical connector which is not subject to dirt, moisture, and other contamination from the environment.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a connector having improved mechanical or strain relief proper- I ties.
According to the teachings of the present invention one-half of the present connector is supplied with a series of ridges and grooves or corrugations and the other half of the connector has on the interior of its forwardly extending surroundingportion a corresponding series of ridges and grooves which, when the two halves of the connector aremated, intermesh so as to enhance the moisture resistant, as well as the mechanical connection aspects of the present invention.
Accordingly, it is a still further object of the present invention to provide an electrical connector with a forwardly extending portion which portion securely grips the lateral sides of its mating connector half.
These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will appear more clearly from the following detailed disclosure of a preferred embodiment read in conjunction with the accompanying drawing in which:
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. I is a perspective view of two electrical connector members;
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the connector members of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view showing the two members properly connected together.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring first to FIG. 1, the moisture-resistant electrical connector of the present invention is seen to comprise a first member 11 and a second member 13, the first member being provided with a pair of male electrical connectors or conductors and 17 and thesecond member being provided with a second pair of female electrical connectors of conductors l9 and 21 which are visible only in FIGS. 2 and 3. The connector of course has wires 23 and 25 of the same number of conductors as the corresponding male and female electrical connectors. The wires 23 and 25 may be permanently sealed to the members 11 and 13 as for example by an integral rubber molding process. The male connectors 15 and 17 may have any desired configuration and any reasonable number of conductors may be used from a single conductor to a multiconductor cable so long as the corresponding or mating female portions 19 and 21 are correspondingly disposed so that the one member may be plugged into the second member.
The most salient feature of the present invention is the provision of a surrounded portion 27 having a series of ridges 29 and grooves 31 and adapted to be encompassed by the surrounding portion 33 of the other member. The surrounding portion 33 is provided with a corresponding series of internal annular grooves 35 and protuberances 37 as more clearly seen in FIG. 2. In the preferred embodiment shown, the member 11 having the surrounding portion or sleeve 33 is the member provided with the male contacts 15 and 17 and this fonn is preferred in that it alfords more protection for the electrical parts of the two members when the connector is disconnected, however, it should be clear that the female connectors 19 and 21 could be made to reside in the member 11 with the male connectors 15 and 17 being switched over to the member 13. It should also be clear that the surrounded portion 27 may be corrugated or contoured in any desired configuration so long as the surrounding portion 33 is correspondingly contoured so that when the two members are fitted together a tight seal is achieved.
The specific configuration of the mating surfaces of the exterior lateral surface of the encompassed portion of the twopiece connector and the interior of the encompassing portion is most easily seen in reference to FIG. 2. The encompassed portion 13 has a series of annular protuberances 29 which in cross section are in a right triangular configuration. The leading portion of this right triangular cross section is sloped so as to allow the two portions to be readily pushed together while the backside of this right triangular cross section is essentially perpendicular to the axis of the connector pair so that the two members do not part easily. Similarly, the annular protuberances interior to the encompassing portion are again of right triangular cross section with the leading edge sloped so as to allow ready connection of the connector halves while the rear portion is essentially perpendicular to the axis of the connector pair so that the pair does not separate readily. While it is clear that these protuberances could be of any desired cross section and that one member might be provided entirely with the raised portions or ridges while the other was provided entirely with grooved or trough portions the groove and trough configuration of triangular cross section as shown in FIG. 2 is the preferred form. The triangular cross section and spacing of these corrugations is such that when the two members are assembled the protuberances of one member intermesh with the grooves of the other member to form an extremely good seal both to moisture and to prevent separation of the connector as illustrated in FIG. 3.
Turning now to FIG. 3 which shows the two members mated or interlocked with the corresponding male and female conductors also interlocked, it should be clear that the electrical connector when assembled defines an interior portion which contains the connectors 15, 17, 19 and 21 and an exterior portion which is exposed to the ambient environment outside the connector. As thus assembled we see that there is a path by which moisture or other contaminants might travel from the environment exterior to the connector along this path to the interior portion where it might contaminate or otherwise short out the conductors. It should be clear that the length of this path which the contaminant must transverse has been substantially increased and made more tortuous than that of the standard extension cord connector as discussed earlier. FIG. 3 also graphically illustrates how the protuberances and corresponding annular grooves intermesh to form both a good seal and a tight mechanical fit between two members of the connector.
The protuberances and corresponding annular grooves are both of a 30-60 right triangle cross section although other cross sections are possible and within the scope of the present invention. When joining the two components of the connector, the 30 or gently sloped portion of the protuberances and grooves slide rather readily over one another, but when attempting to disengage the two components, the perpendicular portions lock together rather tightly and the protuberances and grooves must be somewhat distorted and in one specific embodiment of the present invention approximately 40 pounds of pull was required to disengage to two components. Thus, the present invention provides substantial strain relief to connectors of this type as well as providing moisture-resistant characteristics.
The moisture-resistant properties as well as the strain relief properties of the electrical connector of the present invention may be yet further enhanced by providing a snap ring 41 as shown in FIG. 1 which when in position serves to compress the surrounding portion 33 so as to force the annular rings and grooves into closer contact. Thus, the connector of the present invention is provided with an exterior annular groove 39 adapted to accept this snap ring 41 or any equivalent structure. An equivalent structure might, for example, be to insert the present connector in a panel much as a normal grommet would be inserted in a panel.
Thus while the present invention has been described in reference to a specific embodiment numerous modifications will suggest themselves to persons of ordinary skill in the art and the scope of the present invention is to be measured only by that of the appended claims.
I. A moisture-resistant electrical connector comprising:
a first member having a first axis and having at least one male conductor extending from said member in the direction of said first axis;
a second member having a second axis and having at least one female conductor extending inside said second member in the direction of said second axis, said first and second members adapted to be interconnected by relative axial motion to establish electrical connection between the male and female conductors;
one of said first and second members being provided with a surrounded portion of generally cylindrical configuration and the other of said first and second members being provided with an annular surrounding portion of generally cylindrical configuration wherein when said members are interconnected said surrounded portion is surrounded by said surrounding portion and said first and second axes are colinear;
one of said surrounded and said surrounding portions being provided with at least one annular protuberance having a triangular cross-sectional configuration with a gently sloped leading portion and an abruptly sloped backside and the other of said surrounding and said surrounded portions being provided with at least one corresponding annular groove of mating triangular cross-sectional configuration, said gently sloped leading portion allowing said members to be readily interconnected and said abruptly sloped backside holding said members in their interconnected position, said surrounding portion having an exterior annular groove; and
means removably engaging said exterior annular groove for compressing said surrounding portion to thereby further enhance the moisture-resistant characteristics of the electrical connector.
2. The connector of claim 1 wherein each said triangular cross-sectional configuration is substantially a 30-60 right triangle, said backside being substantially perpendicular to the corresponding member axis and said gently sloped leading portion forming substantially a 30 angle with the corresponding member axis.
3. The connector of claim 1 wherein said first member is provided with three male conductors each extending from said member in the direction of said first axis and said second member IS provided with three female conductors each extending inside said second member in the direction of said second axis, said male conductors and said female conductors being correspondingly disposed so as to allow pairwise inter connection when said first and second members are interconnected.
4. The connector of claim 1 wherein said second member is the member provided with said surrounded portion and said first member is the member provided with said surrounding portion.
5. The connector of claim 1 wherein both said surrounded and said surrounding portions are provided with alternate annular protuberances and annular grooves of mating triangular cross-sectional configuration.