US 3786396 A
An electrical connector including plug and receptacle shells, a coupling ring rotatably mounted on one shell and arranged to be rotatably coupled to the other shell, and a locking device preventing rotation of the coupling ring with respect to the rotatably mounted shell. The locking device includes an axially compressible wave washer coupled to the coupling ring and an apertured lock ring axially movable towards the wave washer by action of the connector shell being coupled to force the detents into the apertures as the wave washer is compressed to prevent release by lower torques associated with vibrational effects. The lock ring also includes resilient plastic sealing rings which engage the two shells during coupling action and provide a seal across the shells.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Ilnited States Patent Kemmer et a1.
[ Jan. 15, I974 ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR WITH LOCKING DEVICE  Inventors: Harry P. Kemmer, Woodstock;
Joseph A. Storcel, North Riverside, both of 111.
 Assignee: Bunker Ramo Corporation, Oak
 Filed: Apr. 28, 1972  Appl. No.: 248,647
 U.S. Cl. 339/89 R, 339/94 R  Int. Cl H01r 13/54  Field of Search ..339/8991, 94
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,202,956 8/1965 Hennessey, Jr 339/90 3,552,777 1/1971 Heinrich ct a|.... 285/81 3,462,727 8/1969 Blight et a1. 339/89 3,594,700 7/1971 Nava et a1 339/89 R 3,669,472 6/1972 Nadsady 285/87 Primary Examiner-Joseph H. McGlynn Attorney-Frederick M. Arbuckle  ABSTRACT An electrical connector including plug and receptacle shells, a coupling ring rotatably mounted on one shell and arranged to be rotatably coupled to the other shell, and a locking device preventing rotation of the coupling ring with respect to the rotatably mounted shell. The locking device includes an axially compressible wave washer coupled to the coupling ring and an apertured lock ring axially movable towards the wave washer by action of the connector shell being coupled to force the detents into the apertures as the wave washer is compressed to prevent release by lower torques associated with vibrational effects. The lock ring also includes resilient plastic sealing rings which engage the two shells during coupling action and provide a seal across the shells.
9 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR WITH LOCKING DEVICE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention was involved with the general purpose of providing locking means for electrical connectors of the type which include a pair of connector shells and a coupling ring mounted on one of the shells and threaded onto the other shell to hold the shells together. Each shell includes a dielectric member which usually supports a plurality of individual contacts mateable in a predetermined pattern with corresponding contacts in the other shell.
Connectors of this type have been utilized in the aircraft and other industries where shock and other vibrational effects are encountered which can cause accidental rotational movement of the coupling ring, thereby releasing one of the shells. The unintentional release of the connector shells results in disruption of the circuits connected thereby and is naturally objectionable.
Various devices for preventing accidental rotation of the coupling ring have been utilized in the past. In some instances, safety wire has been fastened to the coupling ring and at least one of the shells to prevent rotation of the coupling ring. In other instances, other locking devices have been provided which are moved to their locking position after the connector shells have been coupled.
While these devices generally enable the coupled connector to resist effects of vibration, they are not completely satisfactory when release of the connector shells is desired. With several of these devices, release of the connector shells requires a multi-stage operation in which the locking device must be first moved to a releasing position, and only then, can the coupling ring be rotated. If attempts are made to rotate the coupling ring first without proceeding with the required first stage, damage can occur to various parts of the connector.
When used in industry, connectors of this type are often installed in locations where the release features of the connector are not easily visible; and therefore, it is not always possible to determine the particular steps required for release of the connector. Under these circumstances, it is not uncommon that attempts are made to release the connector shells by forcing the coupling ring to rotate without being first released, resulting in damage to the connector.
Another problem associated with connectors of this type involves the sealing of the shells together against environmental effects. Usually, the coupling action between the connector shells places their dielectric members in an abutting relationship to seal all or most of the contacts. However, it is also often desirable that the shells are sealed together to provide a seal surrounding the dielectric inserts. Often, the arrangement of the sealing members is determined by the action of the other connector parts during the coupling action and adequate sealing is not always easily obtainable.
Therefore, it is desirable that electrical connectors be provided which do not require a multi-stage releasing operation and which include sealing means for sealing the connector shells together when coupled.
SUMMARY This invention relates to a locking device for connectors of the type utilizing a pair of connector shells and a rotatable coupling for coupling the shells together and more particularly, to a locking device which maintains the coupling action during vibration of the connector while permitting release of the connector shells during intentional rotation of the coupling ring by the application of torques higher than those associated with vibrational effects.
The locking device of the invention includes locking means which are operative between the coupling ring and one of the two shells. to prevent relative rotation thereof and includes an axially compressible resilient member and a lock ring member normally spaced apart axially when the shells are uncoupled. Adjacent surfaces of the members include means for their being intermated together as one or both of the members are axially moved together during the coupling operation. The intermating means, when engaged, provides resistance against accidental application of lower torques associated with vibrational effects while being releasable during the application of higher torques associated with intentional rotation of the coupling ring.
Advantageously, the lock ring member includes sealing means interposed between the shells such that when the shells are coupled, the sealing means provides a seal between the shells without reducing the effectiveness of the lock ring member with respect to the desired locking action.
The connector also includes visual means for indicating the different positions of the locking means when the intermating means are in a non-engaging and engaging relationship. These visual means advantageously include one or more annular slots in the coupling ring to reveal the presence or absence of axial movement of one or both of the members to reveal whether the locking means has been engaged.
FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of an electrical connector partially in cross section and incorporating a locking device according to the principles of this invention.
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary cross section similar to a portion of FIG. 1 illustrating connector in a coupled position and the locking device in a locked position.
FIG. 3 is a view of the front face of a wave washer illustrated in FIG. ll.
FIG. 4 is a side-elevational view of the wave washer of FIG. 3.
FIG. 5 is a view of the front face of the lock ring of FIG. 1.
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the lock ring of FIG. 3 along line 6-6.
FIG. 7 is a side-elevational view of a coupling ring of FIG. 1.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION Referring to FIG. 1, reference 10 generally designates an electrical connector incorporating the locking device in accordance with the principles of this invention. Connector includes plug shell 12 and receptacle shell 14 which, as illustrated in FIG. ll, are spaced apart in a non-coupled position 15. Coupling ring 16 is rotatably mounted by retainer ring 18 on plug shell 12 and arranged to be rotably coupled to receptacle shell 14. lntercoupling means as illustrated by threaded portion 20 is arranged on coupling ring 16 to be coupled with an externally threaded portion 21 of shell 14.
Plug shell 12 includes dielectric insert 22 and a plurality of metallic contacts 24 mounted therein and axially extending from front face 26 of insert 22 for mating in a predetermined pattern with corresponding contacts (not shown) in shell 14. As illustrated, insert 22 is constructed of front section 22a which may be composed of a resilient or hard dielectric material, intermediate section 22b which is usually hard for retaining contacts 24 and rear grommet 220 which is usually resilient and seals insulated wire 28. Axially aligned bore sections 30a, 30b, and 300 extend through insert 22 and receive contacts 24. Clip 32 is positioned in bore section 30b and serves to retain contacts 24. Insert sections 22a, 22b and 220, bonded together to form a mono-block assembly, are retained in shell 12 by insert retainer ring 34 positioned in groove 36 of shell 12. Clamp shell 38 provides support for insert 22c.
In the preferred embodiment, as illustrated in FIGS. 1-7, plug shell 12 includes radially flanged portion 40 rotatably coupled to coupling ring 16 by retainer ring 18 and axially extending inner sleeve 42 disposed within hollow interior 44 of ring 16 and spaced apart from threaded portion 20. Inner sleeve 42 is arranged to telescope within shell 14 with key 46 being disposed within keyway 48 during such coupling action. Elongated radially flange portion 50 of coupling ring 16 is outwardly spaced apart from sleeve 42 to form coupling slot 51, and outer sleeve 52 is spaced around flange portion 40 to complete the arrangement. Flange portions 40 and 50 are axially spaced apart and include inner faces 54 and 56 which form inner pocket 58 provided with a locking device of the invention.
During the coupling action in which shell 14 is inserted in the coupling slot 51 and coupling ring 16 is rotated to axially move shell 14 into a coupled position 59 (FIG. 2), a locking device becomes operative for locking coupling ring 16 in a fixed position relative to plug shell 12. Action of the locking device thereby prevents accidental release of coupling ring 16 by shock or other vibrational effects.
In the preferred embodiment, the locking device comprises locking means which include a resilient, axially compressible wave washer 60 disposed in pocket 58 and in juxtaposition with inner face 54 of shell 12. Front face 62 of washer 60 is curved to include a plurality of equally spaced, axially extending high points 64 and detents 66 axially extending therefrom. Washer 60 is rotatably coupled to coupling ring 16 by key 68 being positioned in key notch 70.
Lock ring 72 serves as a second member of the locking means and is disposed in pocket 58 in axial alignment with washer 60 and opositely disposed with respect to threaded portion 20. Rear face 74 from ring 62 is provided with a plurality of recesses as illustrated by apertures 76 arranged to receive detents 66 in intermating engagement during axial movement of at least one of faces 62 and 74 towards the other. As illustrated in FIG. 1, washer 60 and lock ring 72 are normally spaced apart axially and include adjacent faces 62 and 74 with intermateable means illustrated by detents 66 and aperture 76.
Frontwardly disposed on lock ring 72 is front face 78 in juxtaposition with radial shoulder 55 forming inner face 56 of coupling ring 16. Front face 78 is provided with portion 79 disposed in slot 51 and arranged to be movable axially by shell 14 during the coupling action. Although lock ring 72 is coupled to plug shell 12 by key 80 disposed in keyway 48 and, therefore, does not rotate during rotation of coupling ring 16, axial movement of lock ring 72 in a direction towards washer 60 is permitted by extension 81 on keyway 48.
During the coupling action, portion 79 of lock ring 72 is engaged by shell 14 and is inwardly moved towards washer 60 whose front face 62 is being rotated with respect to rear face 74 by movement of coupling ring 16. As adjacent faces 62 and 74 are moved towards each other, detents 66 become engaged with oppositely positioned apertures 76. Initially, detents 66 can be released by further rotation of ring 16; and as a result, ring 16 is rotated until washer 60 is compressed to an extent preventing further rotation. During the later stages of the coupling action, detents 66 rachet between apertures 76 to their final position. Usually, excess apertures 76 over detents 66 are provided so that only limited rotational movement is required to move detents 66 to their final locking position from a prior engagement position.
The locking position of plug 14, illustrated in FIG. 2, is visually indicated through annular slots 82 provided in coupling ring 16 and color may be provided on lock ring 72 to emphasize its movement to locking position 90. Annular slots 82 may be arranged to reveal axial movement of one or both of the locking members 60 and 72 depending on the particular construction of the locking device.
As illustrated in FIG. 4, detents 66 are formed to readily mate and unmate in apertures 76. However, as wave washer 60 is compressed, substantial force will be developed to resist further coupling action and will be sufficient to prevent unmating by vibration. Preferably, detents 66 are rounded with minimum areas of contact on rear face 74 of lock ring 72.
Although in general, the intermating means may be interchanged, preferably detents 66 are present on washer 60. This arrangement utilizes the compressible high points of the washer for the detents csn be readily manufactured as can the apertured lock ring.
Another advantage provided by the invention is the utilization of a sealing means on portion 79 of lock ring 72 to form a seal between shells l2 and I4 and to seal the interior of the shells from the environment. As illustrated, sealing means include elastomeric rings 84 and 86 disposed on rear and front faces 74 and 78 of lock ring 72. Ring 84 on face 74 is positioned in axial alignment with shell 14 as it moves in coupling slot 51. As ring 86 is moved axially against face 54 of shell 12 during movement of lock ring 72 in intermating relationship with washer 60, rings 84 and 86 are resiliently compressed to provide the desired seal. In the preferred embodiment, lock ring 72 includes notches 88 as seal retaining means in rings 84 and 86 are advantageously formed by molding during which the elastomeric material is formed in notches 88 to interconnect the rings.
As described above, the locking device of the invention serves to prevent accidental rotation of the coupling ring 16 by vibrational effects normally associated with lower torques, while permitting rotation of coupling ring 16 by higher torques to intentionally uncouple the connector. The locking device also includes a sealing means which acts in combination with the locking device to provide a seal between shells l2 and 14 from environmental effects.
The foregoing description of the present invention is only illustrative of an exemplary form which the invention may take. Still other modifications and variations will suggest themselves to persons skilled in the art. It is intended, therefore, that the foregoing detailed description be considered as exemplary only and that the scope of the invention be ascertained from the following claims.
1. In an electrical connector including first and second shells and a coupling ring rotatably mounted on said first shell and arranged to be rotatably coupled on said second shell, locking means operative between said coupling ring and said first shell to prevent relative rotation thereof, said locking means including an axially compressible resilient member and a lock ring member normally spaced apart axially when said shells are uncoupled and including adjacent surfaces with intermateable means operative by movement of at least one of said surfaces axially towards the other during coupling of said second shell, said resilient member being rotatably coupled to said coupling ring with rotation of said member providing rotation of its associated surface with respect to the other said surfaces, and said lock ring being rotatably coupled to said first shell and including sealing means providing sealing of said shells when coupled.
2. In a connector of claim 1, wherein said resilient member is a wave washer.
3. In a connector of claim 1, wherein said intermateable means include axially directed detents on one of said members and corresponding recesses in the other said members.
4. In a connector of claim 3, wherein said one of said members with said detents is a wave washer.
5. In an electrical connector including first and second shells in a coupling ring including inner coupling means and a hollow interior with the coupling ring being rotatably mounted on said first shell and arranged to be rotatably coupled on said second shell, locking means operative between said coupling ring and said first shell to prevent relative rotation thereof, said locking means including an axially compressible resilient member rotatably coupled to said coupling ring and an oppositely disposed lock ring member normally spaced apart axially from said resilient member and rotatably coupled to said first shell, said locking means including adjacent surfaces with intermateable means operative by movement of said lock ring in a direction away from said coupling means and axially towards said resilient member to compress said resilient member and increase the effectiveness of the intermating means, said first shell including an inner sleeve disposed in said hollow interior and coupled to said lock ring member, and said locking member including sealing means providing sealing of said shells when coupled.
6. In a connector of claim 5, wherein said coupling ring includes an annular slot to reveal axial movement of one of said members towards the other and the intermating of said intermating means.
7. In a connector of claim 6 wherein said resilient member is a wave washer and said intermateable means on said washer include axially directed detents.
8. In a connector of claim 7 wherein said lock ring member includes opposite sides with at least one of said sides including a plurality of recesses to receive said detents and said sealing means includes elastomeric rings on both of said sides inwardly from said recesses to resiliently engage said first and second shells.
9. In a connector of claim 8 wherein said lock ring includes notches interconnecting said elastomeric rings. t: i
UNITED ST ATILS PA'i.l:.NT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION C PATENT NO. 3,736,396
DATED January 15, 1974 lNVENTOmS) 1 Harry P. Kemmer and Joseph A. Storcel It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said LettersPatent are hereby corrected as shown below;
Column 2, line 53, change "3" to -5-.
Column 3, line 52, change "coupled" to -fixed; line 56,
Q change "opositely" to -opp,ositely-.
Column 4, line 4, change "coupled" to rotatably fixed-;
line 43', change "csn" to-can-; line 58, after "86" insert -'which-.
Column 5, line 25, change "coupled" to -fixed-; line 28 Q change "coupled" to -fixed-.
Column 6, line 9, change "coupled" to '-fixed-; line 12,
change "coupled" to -fiXed-.
Engncd and Sealed this second D3) Of March 1976 [SEAL] r Q Attest:
RUTH c. MASON c. MARSHALL DANN Arresting Officer Commissioner ofPatents and Trademarks