US 3706066 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
DQC. 12, L. SHROYER ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR Z/NgENTOR, 8e r096! Cl'fi ys 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed April 19, 1971 ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR Filed April 19, 1971 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 meV q" I I I II II United States Patent O US. Cl. 339-59 R 21 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE An electrical connector to be mounted in an opening in a wall by means of mechanical retaining portions formed on the connector elements is disclosed. The connector consists of male and female elements, each of which has a retaining portion or portions formed thereon, so that when they are mated the retaining portions of each element will engage around the sides of a Wall opening. The male and female elements will be maintained in electrical contact with each other and then the assembled connector will be held in the wall opening. In one embodiment the retaining elements constitute groove segments which, when the elements are mated, form a grommet which engages the wall opening completely around its sides.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to improvements in electrical connectors. More specifically, it relates to an improvement in electrical connectors which are intended for mounting in the openings in relatively thin walls so that conductors on one side of the wall may be detachably connected to conductors on the other side of the wall.
There are many situations where it is desired to detachably connect one set of electrical conductors from a source to another set connected to a load mounted in a housing, casing, or the like, formed by walls or separated from other elements by a partition. To this end the conductors from the load may be brought to an opening in the wall and terminated in a connector. The connector may then be provided with a groove around the periphery of its body. The bottom and sides of the groove are dimensioned so that the bottom will contact the interior surface in the wall opening while the sides extend slightly beyond the opening over the surface of the wall constituting what is termed a grommet so as to retain the connector in the wall.
Very commonly, the connector so constructed is a receptacle or female connector. The conductors that are to be connected thereto terminate therefore in a plug or male connector to be inserted into the female connector. The holding force exerted by the mechanical engagment of the actual metallic electrically conducting engaging elements is depended upon to maintain the electrical connection. Alternatively, in many prior art devices of this type mechanical locking or holding elements engaging the plug and the receptacle are provided to insure that the connection will not be broken accidentally as the result of vibration or of any rotation or movement of the load being supplied. Some conectors of this type are provided with mechanical interlocks integrally molded on their bodies for this purpose.
3,706,066 Patented Dec. 12, 1972 As may be seen, therefore, the object of such connections is to provide an electrical circuit which may be disconnected for any number of purposes such as shipment, installation, and for mainteinace or replacement of the load or some other part of the device. At the same time it is desired to prevent accidental or unwanted interruption of the circuit and to maintain the conductors in desired locations determined by the design of the apparatus involved. The grommet mounting of one of the connectors serves these purposes. In addition, such a grommet may also serve the purpose of providing a sealed opening permitting electrical energy to be supplied to a load otherwise desired to be maintained in a closed housing.
As pointed out above, it has heretofore been necessary to provide a mechanical fastener or holder between the male and female connectors when it is desired to insure against unwanted interruption of the circuit. The provision of such mechanical fasteners necessitates that the cOnnector bodies be of sufficient size to accommodate them. When electrical apparatus, including connectors of this type, are manufactured in mass production lines, there is a measurable added cost in material and labor involved. In addition, their size requires that a designer incorporate space to accommodate them and permit their assembly and disassembly during manufacture and for maintenance purposes.
Therefore, it is an object of this invention to provide a novel electrical connector which may be mounted in a wall opening and be securely maintained without the necessity of any mechanical fasteners or holding elements.
It is another object of this invention to provide an electrical connector for mounting in a wall opening which means mounting the connection means in a wall opening.
It is still another object of this invention to provide an electrical connector for mounting in a wall opening which is relatively compact so as not to require excessive space for installation and service and may be formed with a minimum amount of material.
It is a further object of this invention to provide an electrical connector to be mounted in a wall opening wherein the size of the wall opening and the means mounting the connector in that opening do not have to bear any particular dimensional relationships to the size of the connectors.
It is still a further object of this invention to provide one of several directions with respect to the wall opening. wherein the conductors may enter the connector in any one of several directions with respect to the wall opening.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The foregoing and other objects are achieved in one embodiment of the invention by providing an electrical connecting means including male and female elements each of which is formed with retaining portions matching each other so that when the male and female elements are electrically connected the retaining portions retain the connector in a wall opening and hold the elements in electrical engagement.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The invention itself is set forth in the claims appended hereto and forming a part of this specification while an understanding of the structure and mode of use of various embodiments thereof may be understood by reference to the detailed description taken in conjunction with the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a side view of an assembled electrical connector in accordance with the invention mounted in wall opening;
FIG. 2 is a side view of the connector of FIG. 1 showing the male and female elements in their relative positions when being connected or disconnected;
FIG. 3 is a view along the lines 3-3 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a view along the lines 44 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 5 is a view along the lines 5-5 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 6 is a side view of an alternative embodiment of an electrical connector in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 7 is a side view of the plug or male electrical connector of FIG. 6 showing the connector in its relative position when being connected or disconnected of the embodiment of FIG. 6;
FIG. 8 is a side view of the connector of the embodiment of FIG. 6;
FIG. 9 is a top view of the assembled embodiment of FIG. 6;
FIG. 10 is a bottom view of the assembled embodimentof FIG. 9;
FIG. 11 is a side view of an assembled electrical connector constituting an alternative embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 12 is a side view of the male and female elements of FIG. 11 in their relative positions when being connected or disconnected;
FIG. 13 is a side view, partially in section, of an alternative embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 14 is a side view of the male and female elements of FIG. 13 in their relative positions While being connected;
FIG. 15 is a side view, partially in phantom, of still another embodiment of the invention; and
FIG. 16 is a side view of the male and female elements of FIG. 13 in their relative positions while being connected or disconnected.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION As may be seen in FIGS. 1 through 5, a first embodiment of the invention comprises a receptacle body 2 and a plug body 4.
The receptacle body 2 is preferably formed from a moldable thermoplastic or thermosetting material having some degree of resilience, good electrical insulating properties, and is able to retain its mechanical properties at the temperatures expected to be encountered in the normal usage of the device. The receptacle 2 includes a plurality of contact openings 6 for receiving the projecting electrically conducting contacts forming a part of the plug 4. Molded within the receptacle 2 within the openings 6 are electrical contacts 8, each one individually electrically connected to an associated one of the conductors 11.
The receptacle 2 includes a first or contact holding portion 10 and a retaining portion 12 formed as one-half of a frusto-conical body. Preferably, the receptacle 2 is molded as an integral unit in order to take advantage of obvious economies in manufacture. Separating the retaining portion 12 from the contact portion 10 is a reduced portion 14 so as to form a retaining element, in this case a groove segment 16 extending partially around the periphery of the surface of the receptacle. As may be seen in FIG. 5, the receptacle is formed with a fiat face 18 in which the contact openings 6 are provided. The groove segment 16, as may be seen, does not exetnd across the face 18.
The plug or male connector 4 is formed of similar materials and in a similar fashion, and includes a first or contact holding portion 20 and a retaining portion 22, also formed as one-half of a frusto-conical body. Molded into the contact holding portion 20 are protruding electrical connectors or prongs 24, each one of which is individually connected to an associated electrical conductor 26. A sealing element 25 may be provided at the base of each prong to engage in an opening 6 to exclude moisture from the connector. The body of the plug 4 is formed in the same manner as the body of the receptacle 2 with a reduced portion 28 so as to form a retaining element or groove segment 30 extending partially around its periphery. As may be seen in FIG. 4, the plug 4 is provided with a flat face 32 and the groove segment 30 is not formed on that face.
Obviously, the number of actual electrical connections provided, their particular physical shapes and disposition can be varied to meet particular situations or industry standards required when electrical energy of certain voltages and currents is to be conducted.
By reference to FIG. 1, the manner in which an electrical connector in accordance with the invention may be used can be understood. The reference numeral 34 designates a portion of a wall forming a part of a housing or compartment in which there is disposed an electrical load to be supplied from a source external to the housing or compartment. In the arrangement illustrated, the conductors 26 are to be disposed Within the interior of the housing and compartment and to be connected to the load, whatever it may be. The conductors 11 are connected to the electrical source and it is desired to provide an electrical connection between them and the conductors 26.
In order to do this, the plug 4 is connected into the receptacle 2 by inserting the prongs 24 in the openings 6 so that they will engage associated contacts. When this connection is made, this brings the face [18 of the receptacle 2 in contact with the face 32 of the plug 4 disposing the groove segments 16 and 30 in a confronting relationship so as to form a continuous groove around the periphery of the now-joined connectors. As may be seen, the retaining portions 12 and 22 now engage each other and form a truncated cone or retaining element, at the base of which is the groove formed by 16 and 30.
Inasmuch as the connector bodies are formed of a resilient or slightly yielding material, the truncated cone retaining element formed by the joining of the two connector elements may be forced through an opening 36 in the wall 34. Suflicient pressure is applied until the bases of the tuncated cone 12, 22 adjacent the groove have passed through the hole so that the interior surface of the opening is in contact with the bottom of the groove and the sides of the groove, formed by the connector bodies, overlie the surface of the wall adjacent the opening 36. When so situated, the connector is now supported by the wall with the conductors positioned as desired. At the same time the wall opening engaging in the groove maintains the connectors in their assembled position so that they Will not become accidentally dislodged and/or disconnected. In this manner, a positive locking together of the two connectors is provided without the necessity of mechanical fastening elements, either applied or molded as part of the connector elements.
As stated above, it is an object of the invention to provide a connector wherein the conductor can enter the connectors from varying directions. As may be seen, the embodiment of FIGS. 1 through 5 illustrates a form in which the conductors 11 enter the connector 2 parallel the wall while the conductors '26 enter the connector 4 perpendicular to the Wall.
FIGS. 6 through 10 illustrate another embodiment of the invention wherein both sets of conductors enter their respective connectors at right angles to the wall. In this embodiment, a plug or male connector 40 is molded to have a substantially semi-circular configuration with its lower portion 42 forming half of a truncated cone. An
upper or first portion 44 providing a support for the mole connector prongs 46 is separated from the lower portion by a relatively narrow portion 48 to form a groove segment 50.
The female receptacle 52 of the embodiment of FIGS. 6 through is molded to have a substantially semicircular truncated cone portion 54 separated from an upper portion 56 by a reduced diameter area 57 to form a groove segment 60. Integrally molded with the portions 54, 56, and 57 is a bracket or carrier 62 supporting an integrally molded contact holding portion 64. Molded in the contact holding portion 64 are openings 58- to accommodate electrical contact elements to be engaged by the prongs 46. In this embodiment the conductors 68 have an electrical connection with the prongs 46 while the conductors 70 have an electrical connection with the contact elements positioned in the openings 58.
In order to make an electrical connection and mount a connector in accordance with this embodiment of the invention, the prongs 46 are inserted into the openings 58 to establish the electrical connection. When the elements 40 and 52 are assembled a fiat face 72 of the element 52 is in engagement with a flat face 74 of the element 40. At the same time a bottom surface 76 of the portion 64 of the element 52 engages an upper surface 78 of the portion 44 of the element 40. When the elements and their associated surfaces are so engaged, the portions 42 and 54 form a frusto-conical element in the same manner as the previously described embodiment by virtue of the contact of the surfaces 72 and 74. At the same time, a groove is formed by the segments 50 and 60. The contact of the surface 76 with the surface 78 seals off the actual electrical connection and therefore a connector unit is provided which may be mounted in a wall opening in the same fashion as the previously described embodiment. As may be seen in this form of the invention, the conductors 68 and 70 both enter their associated connector elements at right angles to the wall surface.
In each of the embodiments previously described the retaining portions constitute groove segments which, when the male and female elements are joined, form a grommet. In some instances, sufficient mechanical holding strength can be obtained without the necessity of a complete holding grommet. Thus where no seal is required around the opening, the retaining portions may be discontinuous and provided in such numbers and dimensions to produce the desired retaining force.
FIGS. 11 and 12 illustrates an embodiment of the invention wherein the retaining elements are discontinuous and are provided in accordance with the requirements of a particular design or application. In this embodiment, 100 designates the male plug while 102 designates the female receptacle. As shown in FIG. 11, the two elements have been joined together and mounted in an opening in a wall or panel 104.
The male element 100 may be formed as a unitary molded body having a contact supporting portion 106 and a retaining portion 108. Formed on the retaining portion 108 are a plurality of upwardly sloping and outwardly extending retaining elements 110 and 112. It should be understood that the number, dimensions and relative positions of the retaining elements may be varied as required by a designer. Male prongs 114 extend from a flat face of the element 100 and are individually electrically connected to the conductors 118.
The female element 102 is formed in a similar fashion and includes a contact supporting portion 120 and a retaining portion 122. Upwardly sloping, outwardly extending retaining elements 124 and 126 are formed on the retaining portion. Openings 128 formed in a flat face 130 surround electrical contacts which engage the prongs 114 and are electrically connected to the conductors 132.
When it is desired to mount a connector corresponding to the embodiments of FIGS. 11 and 12 in a wall, the elements 100 and 102 are mated, bringing the flat faces 116 and into contact with each other. At the same time, the retaining elements 112 and 126 contact each other so as to form what is in effect a single retaining element. The assembled connector is then inserted through the opening in the wall 104 with the sides of the opening bearing on the sloping faces of the retaining elements so as to deform them slightly as they move through the opening. After the retaining elements have been forced through the opening they engage the opposite side of the wall and the sides of the opening engage in the spaces or groove segments 134 between the bottom of the contact holding portions and the retaining elements. In this manner the assembled connector is re tained in a desired position wherein the electrical contact between the two elements is securely maintained.
In still other embodiments of the invention it is possible to provide a means whereby the electrical load is provided directly on one of the elements. Thus in FIGS. 13 and 14 the electrical load desired to be supplied may be a lamp and, for this purpose, one element is formed as by molding a suitable material so as to have a light socket 142. The light socket is provided with threads 144 which conform with national standard threads for lamp holders. The element 140 also includes a retaining portion 146 formed as one-half of a frusto-conical element spaced from the socket 142 so as to provide a reduced portion 148 which constitutes the bottom of a groove segment 150. Male connectors or prongs 152 extend from a flat face 154 of the element 140. The prongs 152 are electrically connected to the elements of the socket 142 so as to supply current to a lamp which may be screwed therein.
The other element 156 of the connector likewise comprises a retaining portion 158 formed as one-half of a frusto-conical element. A reduced portion 160 forms the bottom of a groove segment 162 a side of which is constituted by a flange 164. Openings 166 are provided in a flat face 168 and have provided therein electrical contacts electrically connected with conductors 170 and engageable with the prongs 152.
When it is desired to use a connector in accordance with this embodiment of the invention the elements 140 and 156 are joined by engaging the pron-gs 152 in the contacts held in the openings 166. When these two elements are mated the flat faces 168 and 154 contact each other and the groove segments 150 and 162 form a continuous groove or grommet for mounting and sealing purposes. The connector may then be mounted in an opening in a wall panel as desired and an electrical load such as a lamp or similar device may be threaded into the socket 148.
Another embodiment of the invention wherein means may be provided in the connector for accommodating electrical load directly is shown in FIGS. 15 and 16. In this figure, a first element is provided with a retaining portion 182 formed as one-half of a frusto-conical element. A reduced portion 184 constitutes the bottom of a groove segment 186, one side of which is provided by the side of a load support portion 190. In this embodiment a socket 192 is provided at the bottom of an opening 194 to receive a load such as a relay 196. The socket 192 is provided with a plurality of socket holes 198 in which are mounted electrical contacts to receive the prongs through which electrical circuits are completed to the operating coil and contacts of the relay. Electrical conductors 200 are molded in the portion and engage the contacts in the holes 198 to provide circuit connections for the relay contacts. A pair of conductors 202 make electrical connections with the contacts in the holes 198 of the socket 192 which receive the prongs connected to the relay operating coil. The conductors 202 in turn are connected to the male contacts 204 extending from a flat face 206 of the element 180.
A second element 210 is likewise formed as one-half of a frusto-conical element and is provided with a reduced portion 212 forming the bottom of a groove segment 214 one side of which is constituted by a flange 216. Openings 218 provided in a flat face 220 of the element 210 hold electrical contacts which receive the prongs 204 and are in turn electrically connected to the conductors 222.
This embodiment of the invention may be utilized by mating the elements 180 and 210 as before and, after it is mounted in a wall or panel opening as desired, a load such as the relay 196 may be inserted into the socket 192. The energization current for the relay coil is then derived through the conductors 222, prongs 204, and conductors 202 connected to appropriate ones of the holes 198. The circuits to be controlled by the relay contacts may then be connected to appropriate ones of the conductors 200. Alternatively, the relay or similar type of electrical load could be molded permanently into the portion 190, if that is desired.
While the description proposes that the connector bodies be formed from a resilient plastic material, it should be understood that no specific amount of resilience is intended by this term. Thus, it is contemplated that relatively hard materials such as hard rubber-natural or synthetic-resin plastics or the like as well as relatively soft materials such as polyvinylchloride may be used. All that is required is that the material be capable of deforming to a degree sufiicient to permit the retaining elements to pass through a panel opening and to resume a position engaging the sides of the opening.
Obviously, numerous modifications can be made in the invention without departing from its scope. For instance, various materials can be used, the terminal and conductor configurations can be reversed or altered and the shape can be altered for whereas the embodiments illustrated are designed for engagement in circular wall openings, they can be designed equally well for mounting in rectangular or other kinds of straight-sided openings. In such cases, the connector elements could be molded to have grooves corresponding to the conformation of the wall opening. It is intended by the claims to cover all such modifications and variations as fall within their scope.
What is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:
1. Electrical connecting apparatus comprising: a pair of bodies each formed from a resilient electrically insulating material, a first set of electrical contacts supported in one of said bodies, a second set of electrical contacts supported in the other of said bodies and engageable with said first set of electrical contacts, each body having a first portion, a retaining portion and a retaining element formed on said retaining portion, said retaining portains being in contact with each other when said electrical contacts are engaged whereby said retaining portions can be inserted through a wall opening against the first portions so that the sides of the wall opening are engaged by said retaining elements with said retaining portions on one side of the Wall opening to maintain said bodies and their sets of electrical contacts in engagement with each other.
2. The electrical connecting apparatus of claim 1 where in said retaining elements are constituted by groove segments between said first portions and said retaining portions.
3. The electrical connecting apparatus of claim 1 wherein said retaining elements are constituted by spaced outwardly extending elements formed on said retaining portions.
4. The electrical connecting apparatus of claim 3 where in said retaining elements taper outwardly and toward said first portions.
5. The electrical connecting appartus of claim 1 wherein the first portion of one of said bodies is provided means to receive, support, and electrically connect an electrical load to the set of electrical contacts supported in said body.
6. The electrical connecting apparatus of claim 5 wherein said means to receive, support, and electrically connect the electrical load is constituted by a socket molded into said body.
7. Electrical connecting apparatus comprising: a pair of connectors, each having a body formed from a resilient electrically insulating material, a first set of electrical contacts supported in one of said bodies, a second set of electrical contacts supported in the other end of said bodies and engageable with said first set of electrical contacts, each body having a first portion, a retaining portion and a groove segment formed therebetween, said retaining portions being in contact with each other and said groove segments confronting each other when said electrical contacts are engaged to form a groove whereby said retaining portions can be inserted through a wall opening so that sides of the wall opening will engage in said groove withsaid retaining portions on one side of the wall and said first portions on said other side of the wall to maintain said bodies and their sets of electrical contacts in engagement with each other.
8. Electrical connecting apparatus as set forth in claim 7 wherein each retaining portion is formed as one-half of a frusto-conical body.
9. Electrical connecting apparatus as set forth in claim 8 wherein the body of each connector has a flat face and said fiat face of one of said bodies contacts the fiat face of the other of said bodies when said connectors are in engagement with each other.
10. Electrical connecting apparatus as set forth in claim 9 wherein the body of one of said connectors is provided with openings in the flat face thereof and said first set of electrical contacts are disposed within said openings and wherein said second set of electrical contacts extend from the fiat face of the other of said bodies and are engageable with said first set of electrical contacts within said openings.
11. Electrical connecting apparatus as set forth in claim 10 wherein one of said connectors has a bracket extending upwardly from its first portion and a contact holding portion supported on said bracket.
12. Electrical connecting apparatus as set forth in claim 11 wherein said contact holding portion is supported laterally of the retaining portion.
13. Electrical connecting apparatus as set forth in claim 12 wherein the first portion of the other said connectors is engageable with the bottom surface of said contact holding portion.
14. Electrical connecting apparatus as set forth in claim 10 including sealing elements extending from the flat face of said other of said bodies and surrounding the contacts of said second set of electrical contacts and are engageable with said openings.
15. An electrical connector formed from a resilient electrically insulating material and comprising: a first portion; a retaining portion; retaining means on said retaining portion providing a groove segment between said first portion and said retaining portion; said retaining portion having a free end spaced from said groove segment; said retaining portion having a surface sloping outwardly from said free end to a side of said groove segment permitting said free end to be inserted through an opening in a wall in which the connector is to be mounted and said sloping surface to be deflected inwardly by the side of the wall opening so as to pass therethrough and permit said side of said groove segment to overlie the surface of said wall adjacent said opening; said retaining portion having a flat face formed thereon extending from said free end to at least said groove segment; and at least one electrical contact mounted within the connector.
16. The electrical connector of claim 15 wherein said set of electrical contacts are mounted within said first portion.
17. The electrical connector of claim 16 wherein openings are provided in said flat face and said set of electrical contacts are mounted within said openings.
10 18. The electrical connector of claim 16 wherein said References Cited set of electrical contacts extends from sad flat face. UNITED STATES PATENTS 19. The electrical connector of claim 18 wherein seal- 1 740 52 12 1929 Hughes 339 12 RS ing elements are provided around each connector of said 5 2,190,230 2/1940 Cole 339-75 R set of electrical connectors adjacent said face. 3,344,392 9/1967 Brlscoe 339-48 X 20. The electrical connector of claim 15 having a gi zs fi:::' 33?;g
bracket extending upwardly from said first portion and a contact holding portion supported on said bracket.
21. The electrical connector of claim 20 wherein said contact holding portion is supported laterally of said retaining portion. 339-62, 75 126 R 10 RICHARD E. MOORE, Primary Examiner US. Cl. C.X.
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION 6 -.Patent No. 3, 706,066 Dated December 12, 1972 Inventor(s) Larry L. Shroyer It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:
celuhn 2, lines 31 through 34, should read as follows:
It is another object of this invention to provide an electricalconnection means which is maintained by the means mounting the connection means in a wall opening.
Column 2 lines 46 through 49, should read as follows:
-It is still a further object of this invention to provide an electrical connector for mounting in a wall opening wherein the conductors may enter the connector in any one of several directions with respect to the wall opening.-
Column 5, line 2, "mole" should be --v-male-..
Signed and sealed this 1st day. of May 1973.
EDWARD M. FLETCHER, JR. ROBERT GOTTSCHALK Attesting Officer Commissioner of Patents ORM PO-IOSO (10-69) USCOMM-DC 60376-P69 u.s. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1969 0-366-336