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Publication numberUS3920309 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 18, 1975
Filing dateApr 18, 1974
Priority dateApr 18, 1974
Publication numberUS 3920309 A, US 3920309A, US-A-3920309, US3920309 A, US3920309A
InventorsGarver William Joseph
Original AssigneeAmp Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Stackable electrical connector assembly
US 3920309 A
Abstract
A plug or connector assembly includes a number of side-by-side housings for containing a predetermined number of electrical contacts, the number of housings employed determining the dimensions of a contact matrix presented by the connector assembly. Each of the housing assemblies includes a plurality of apertures of holes for receiving a corresponding plurality of electrical contacts. A plurality of faceplate members are located over respective housings, each engaging fins outwardly extending from each end of the housing with which it is associated and having a corresponding plurality of holes to enable access to the electrical contacts. The housings and faceplate members are secured in position by screws through the fins and a receiving portion of each of the faceplate members.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Garver Nov. 18, 1975 [75] Inventor: William Joseph Garver, Harrisburg,

[73] Assignee: AMP Incorporated, Harrisburg, Pa.

[22] Filed: Apr. 18, 1974 [21] Appl. No.: 461,833

[52] US. Cl. 339/198 G; 339/65; 339/107; 29/629 [51] Int. Cl. H01R 9/00 [58] Field of Search 339/198 R, 198 G, 198 H, 339/198 S, 198 P, 103 R, 103 M, 65, 66 M, 206 R, 206 P, 176 R, 176 M, 107; 29/629 [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,065,447 1 H1962 Maurer 339/65 3,188,604 6/1965 Mogestad et al.... 339/198 J 3,519,978 7/1970 Taormina et al.... 339/192 R 3,569,900 3/1971 Uberbacke 339/217 3,627,942 12/1971 Bobb 339/198 G 3,652,977 3/1972 Feldberg 339/198 R 3,740,698 6/1973 Jerominek.... 339/103 M 3,854,787 12/1974 Snyder, Jr. 339/103 R 3,858,960 l/l975 Kunkle et al..... 339/103 R 3,865,457 Carter 339/176 M Primary Examiner-Joseph H. McGlynn Assistant Examiner-James W. Davie Attorney, Agent, or FirmWilliam J. Keating, Esq.; Donald W. Phillion, Esq.

[57] ABSTRACT A plug or connector assembly includes a number of side-by-side housings for containing a predetermined number of electrical contacts, the number of housings employed determining the dimensions of a contact matrix presented by the connector assembly. Each of the housing assemblies includes a plurality of apertures of holes for receiving a corresponding plurality of electrical contacts. A plurality of faceplate members are located over respective housings, each engaging fins outwardly extending from each end of the housing with which it is associated and having a corresponding plurality of holes to enable access to the electrical contacts. The housings and faceplate members are secured in position by screws through the fins and a receivingportion of each of the faceplate members.

Strain relief means are also molded onto each of the identical side-by-side housings, the strain relief members intermediate the ends being selectively removeable to effect a pair of cooperating strain relief members to engage the conductors or wires which may be connected to the individual contacts of the connector assembly.

4 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures US. Patent Nov. 18, 1975 Sheet 1 of2 3,920,309

PRIOR ART PRIOR ART Fig. 1

Fig. 4 Fig. 5

U.S.*Patent Nov. 18,1975 Sheet2of2 3,920,309

STACKABLE ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR ASSEMBLY BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to electrical connector assemblies and more particularly to improvements in stackable electrical connector assemblies, and to methods for making same.

2. Description of the Prior Art In many instances it is desireable to use a plug or connector assembly which is adapted to be modified to present a selected number of electrical contacts for connection to a mating plug or pins, for instance, in a matrix arrangement. More specifically, in many cases, it is desireable to provide a plug which can be selectively expanded by rows to achieve a plug having a predetermined number of electrical contacts, such as female plug contacts, in one matrix direction, for example, twenty, and having a selectable number of contacts in the other matrix direction, to provide a plug matrix of 20 X 2, 3, 4, 8, or any other desired number.

Such connector can be particularly employed, for example, in effecting temporary connections to a number of corresponding electrical mating pins or contacts, such as on another plug, or individually mounted upon a panel or other like structure. For instance, in electronics testing, wires connected to the electrical circuit to be tested are commonly connected to pins to which electrical connection can be made by an appropriate testing apparatus. Often the pins are mounted in a configuration which facilitates making electrical connections simultaneously to a large number of the pins, for example in a male (or female) plug, or in a matrix configuration on a panel which can receive a mating plug or connector assembly. Then with the connector of the testing apparatus attached, various tests can be made among various combinations of contacts to the circuit under consideration. Typically, wires of the connector of the testing apparatus are connected to a data processor or computer, programmed to apply test voltages, or currents, test for shorts, measure responses among the various pins or contacts and so forth. The measured responses can then be compared by the data processor or computer to known proper responses, and the circuit under test accept or reject. In manufacturing complex electrical circuitry, commonly a very large number of test pins are employed, typically arranged in matrices to which connectors of the testing apparatus can be connected. However, often the matrices presented are of different dimensions, although usually the number of pins in one dimension of the matrix is made the same. Thus, in testing different sized matrix arrays, for example, some having dimensions of 20 X 2, some 20 X 4, some 20 X 8, etc., it can be seen that a number of different sized connectors or plugs, one for each particular matrix array, is required. This can be cumbersome, especially in the installation and replacement of the test plugs or connectors. For example, to replace a plug which is worn-out or otherwise unsuitable for use, the entire plug assembly must be unsoldered from the test equipment wires, then the replacement resoldered. The replacement of the entire plug additionally is expensive, since ordinarily the plugs used for such test uses are specially manufactured to accommodate the particular matrix array to be tested.

In the manufacture of the plugs, it is desireable that they be formed in as easy a manner as possible, ideally in a single mold, or in a minimum number of molds. Additionally it is desireable that the molds be as simple or uncomplicated as possible; ideally the molds used should be of the single action type, in which the mold motion is constrained to a single axis direction. Double or multiple action molds previously used are not particularly desireable since they are much more expensive, require much more elaborate and sophisticated tooling, and result in a plug or connector which is of significantly increased cost.

In the fabrication of a plug or connector assembly, it is desireable to provide a means for strain relief upon the connector which may be occasioned by forces upon wires soldered or attached to the individual contacts carried by the connector assembly. In the prior art, strain relief has been achieved in several ways. For example, strain relief members have been individually separately fabricated and subsequently attached to a plug housing. Strain relief members also have been molded as an integral part of the plug housing as a single unit. It can be seen that in the separate strain relief member fabrication method, an additional individual mold (if the members are molded) is needed for each desired connector dimension, and in the method in which the strain relief means are integrally molded as a part of the plug housing, the housings of different dimensions are already made in individual molds.

It is further desireable to be enabled to replace the connector in parts. Thus, in the prior art, if only a portion of the connector should wear-out, the entire connector assembly, including parts which may have additional life within them, must be replaced. This disadvantage is particularly significant in testing environments in which the connectors used with the testing apparatus are repeatedly plugged and unplugged, especially with pointed or sharp mating pins, which have a tendancy to wear-out primarily only the initial contacting portion or face of the connector.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In light of the above, it is an object of the invention to present a connector or plug assembly in which the rows, each of a fixed number of contacts, can be easily added or deleted to achieve a matrix array of desired width dimension.

It is another object of the invention to present a plug or connector assembly in which a number of identical contact housings can be stacked to provide a facility for increasing the number of contact rows of the connector.

It is still another object of the invention to present a plug or connector assembly having a replaceable faceplate facility.

It is still another object of the invention to present a stackable connector housing and faceplate assembly which is easily connectable in stacked relation to similar connector and faceplate assemblies.

It is yet another object of the invention to present a plug or connector assembly which can be fabricated from single action molds.

It is yet another object of the invention to present a connector or plug assembly which is fabricated from a plurality of connector housing units of identical construction, and which has a pair of strain relief members to engage wires or conductors running to the individual contact of the plug or connector assembly.

It is another object of the invention to present a plug or connector assembly which can be modified to present any number of rows ofa common number of connectors.

These and other objects, features, and advantages will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawing and appended claims.

The invention, in its broad aspect, presents a plug or connector assembly which includes a plurality of sideby-side housings each having a plurality of contact receiving holes therein. The number of side-by-side housings utilized determines the width of the matrix to which the connector presents. A plurality of faceplates, corresponding to the number of housings are included, each faceplate overlying a corresponding one of the housings, and having contact access holes therethrough. Screw means secure the housings and faceplates in the side-by-side and overlying positions.

The housings and overlying plates are each molded. Each of the housings have a strain relief means molded as an intregal part thereof, which is removeable, if desired, from the housings intermediate the first and last, to present a pair of complimentary strain relief means on the first and last housing to engage wires or conductors running to the individual contacts of the connector assembly.

In another apsect of the invention, the method of fabricating a connector assembly is presented. In the method, a plurality of housings are provided, each having a plurality of contact receiving holes or channels therein. The housings are located in a side-by-side relationship, and a plurality of faceplate members, each having contact access holes therethrough are located upon respective one of the housings. The housings and faceplate members are then secured in the located positions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING The invention is illustrated in the accompanying drawing wherein:

FIG. 1 is a front elevation of a panel having a number of different pin matrix array configurations, illustrative of the type of environment in which the connector, in accordance with the invention, can be employed.

FIG. 2 is a side view of a portion of the panel of FIG. 1 showing two pin members and electrical connections thereto.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an exploded connector assembly, in accordance with the principles of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a cut-away portion of a part of the connector assembly of FIG. 3, showing a single contact element located within one of the contact holes of the one of the connector housings.

And FIG. 5 is a side view of the located contact element within the hole of the housing, of FIG. 4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS As mentioned above, the connector assembly in accordance with the principles of the invention, is particularly useful in conjunction with plug or pin assemblies of different matrix dimensions. For example, in FIG. 1,

a panel 10 is shown on which a number of male plug or 7 pin matrices are presented. The pin matrices each have the same number of pins in each row, buteach of the matrices may have a different number of rows. For.in-,

stance, the matrix 11 has one row of six pins, matrices 12 and 13 have two rows of six pins, matrix 14 has three rows of six pins, matrices 15 and 16 have four rows of six pins, matrix 17 has five rows of six pins, and matri-- ces 18 and 19 have six rows of six pins. Other matrices of any number of rows of six pins (or other convenient number of pins per row) may be located at positions indicated generally by the dots 22.

Each of the pin matrices can be fabricated by well known techniques. For example, as shown in FIG. 2,a I pair of pins 25 and 26 which form a part of one of the matrices of FIG. 1, extend through an insulating sub- Thus, it can be seen that to effect connections to the pins of the matrices 11-19, a plurality of plug or con.-

nector assemblies of various matrix dimensions are required. It is toward achieveing this goal, thatis, to pres ent an assembly formable into a plug or connector as? sembly of the desired matrix configuration, that the present invention is directed, although it should be em phasized that the connector assembly, in accordance with the invention, can be equally advantageously employed in other environments in which connection is to be made to any desired pin matrix, whether presented upon a panel, an individual plug, or otherwise.

With reference now to FIG. 3, a connector assembly 35 is shown, partially exploded, which, upon assembly, presents a matrix of 4 X 20 individual contacts.,The contact assembly 35 includes four identical contact blocks or housing 37, 38, 39 and 40, which are arranged side-by-side in the stacked configuration shown.

Each of the housings 37-40 has a number (20 being il- Iustrated) of side-by-side channels or apertures, such as f the apertures 42. shown in the housing 37, extending from the top face 44 to the bottom face 45, eachto receive a contact member, as below described in detail.

The housings 37-40 are formed of an electrical insulation material, moldable plastic being particularly well suited.

Each of the housings 37-40 has a pair of fins or planar wing members extending outwardly fromopposite ends to facilitate interconnection between the adjacent housings, and the faceplates located thereon, as below described. For example, the housing 37 has wings or fins 48 and 49 thereon, the housing 40 has wings or fins 52 and 53 thereon, and the intermediate housings 38 and 39 likewise have fins or wings, wings 56 and 57, being visible in the perspective view of FIGI3.

At the bottom face ofeach of the housings 37-40 are tab portions, for example, tab 60 on housing 37, of width equal to that of the housing from which it ex- 7 tends. Similar tabs are located at opposite ends of the housings, as can be seen upon housing 40, having tabs 61 and 62 at opposite bottom ends thereof. Each of the tabs upon the respective housings has a hole .there-- through, such as the hole 65 through the tab 60 on' housing 37, to receive shaft of a screw to enablerthe side-by-side arranged or stacked housings to be fastened togehter. For example, in the embodiment illustrated, the shaft 68 of the screw 69 extends through the hole 65, and through the respective holes of the tabs of the intermediate housings 38, 39 and 40, to secure the housings in their side-by-side or stacked relationship. Likewise, the shaft (not shown) of the screw 71 extends through the holes of the opposite tabs to secure the opposite ends of the housings 37-39.

A hole, such as the holes 73 and 74 in the wings 48 and 49 of the housing 37, is formed at the top portion of each of the wings extending from the ends of the housing 37-40. The holes in the upper portions of the wing, similarly receive the shaft portion of a screw or other fastening means, as below described, to further maintain the sideby-side or stacked relationship of the housings 37-40.

Located over each of the housings 3740 is a respective top or faceplate member. In the embodiment illustrated, faceplate members 77, 78, 79, and 80 are located respectively over housings 37, 38, 39, and 40. The faceplate members 7780 each are of an insulation material, preferably plastic, or the like, and includes a number of holes 82 in an elongated planar portion, formed to align coaxially with the holes 42 in the housings upon which the faceplate member is located. Thus, the holes 82 provide access to the individual contact members located within the apertures or channels 42 within the respective housing.

The ends of the faceplate members 77-80 are formed into a J configuration, as shown by the end members 85 and 86 of the faceplate member 77. Slots or channels 88 and 89 are provided in the .I" shaped members 85 and 86 to receive therewithin the fins 48 and 49, respectively, of the housing 37 upon which the faceplate member is located. Similar J shaped members and slots are provided at each end of the faceplates 7880 overfitting the respective fins of the housings upon which they are located. The width of the faceplate members 77-80 are approximately equal to the width of the housings on which they are located. Thus, the edges of the J shaped members at the ends of the faceplate members are juxtaposed to provide a tight fitting contact between the side-by-side or stacked housings. Additionally, the shaft of the screw located within the upper holes of the outstanding wings fits within the .I shaped members, as shown, to maintain the location of the faceplate members 77-80 in their located positions. Thus, as can be seen, the shaft 90 of the screw 91 fits through the holes of the respective wings 52, 57, 56, and 48, and additionally engages the J shaped members of the faceplate members 80, 79, 78, and 77. Likewise, the shaft portion 100 of the screw 101 is located through corresponding holes in the wings opposite those above mentioned, and engages the J shaped portions of the faceplate members at the opposite sides. Thus, nuts 105, 106 and 107 can be threadably secured onto the shaft 90, 68, and 100 (the nut for the screw 62 is not shown) to secure the housings 37-40 and faceplates 77-80 in their respective side-byside and located positions.

Additionally, each of the housings 37-40 has formed at the bottom portion thereof a strain relief means, such as the members 110 and 11] illustrated. Each of the strain relief members 1 and 111 are molded at an integral part of the respective housing, and is attached thereto by tabs, for example, tabs 115, 116, and 117, attaching housing 110 to housing 42 its strain relief member 110. Thus, in the fabrication of the contact as sembly of desired matrix dimensions, such as the 4 X 20 matrix llustrated, the strain relief members of the intermediate housings 38 and 39 can be cut or removed at the tab portions corresponding to the tabs 115, 116, and 117, of the strain relief member 110. The strain relief members 110, and 111, therefore, can be rotated towards each other in the direction of the arrows and 121, respectively, to ultimately come together and retain therebetween the wires or conductors (not shown) attached to the individual contacts (not shown) within the holes or apertures 42 of the housings 37-40. It should also be noted that since the housings 37-40 are identical and symmetrical, it is necessary to reverse one or the other of the outside housings 37 or 40, whereby the strain relief means 110 and 111 will be of mutually complimentary configuration to properly engage the conductors or wires to be positionally maintained thereby. The strain relief members 110 and 111 can be held in their wire or conductor maintaining relationship by bolts or screws (not shown) located within holes 130.

With reference to FIGS. 4 and 5, the interior construction of the holes or apertures 42 of the housings are shown, partially cut-away, with a contact member located therewithin. The apertures 42 are formed within the housing 143 with shoulders 144 and 145 in the front aspect of FIG. 4, on opposite sides of the aperture 42. Likewise in the side aspect of FIG. 5, shoulders 147 and 148 are provided. In the side apsect shown in FIG. 5, additional horizontal shoulders 150 and 151 are provided. Thus, a contact 140 which can be, for example, of a stamped and formed single piece of a conductor material, can be inserted directly into the aperture 42. To secure the position the contact member 140 within the aperture 42, tangs 155 and 156 are provided on opposite sides of the contact 140. The tangs 155 and 156 engage the inwardly extending shoulders 150 and 151 on the contact housing upon insertion of the contact 140 into the aperture 42, thereby preventing its undesired withdrawal. Additionally, tangs or tabs 160, 161, I62, and 163 are formed, such as by stamping a triangular portion outwardly, as shown, to engage the shouldered portions 145, 147, 144, and 168, respectively, of the housing thereby to limit the upward movement of the contact 140 within the channel 42.

The faceplate member is located upon the housing 143, in the manner above described with reference to FIG. 3. Each of the apertures 42 has an essentially truncated conical configuration, presenting walls 171 inwardly sloping to facilitate the insertion of a male contact pin and to direct it to within the female contact 140 within the aperture 42. Additionally, a truncated conical or pyramidal shoulder portion 172 is provided on the underside of the hole 82 in the faceplate member 170, extending partially within the opening 174 of the female contact 140 to provide stability of the contact 140 within the aperture 42.

As mentioned above, each of the portions of the connector assembly 35 can be easily fabricated by molding in a single mold. For instance, the housings 37, 38, 39, and 40, of identical configuration, can be molded in a single mold, and, additionally, the faceplate members 7780, of identical configuration, can also be molded in another single mold, then the entire assembly fabricated to the desired matrix dimensions, as above described. Furthermore, it should be emphasized that the housings 37-40, can each be fabricated in a one or single-action mold by fabricating the strain relief member thereon at a right angle to the general plane of the housing, as shown in FIG. 3. By molding the strain relief means at such right angle, the holes 130, as well as the general features of the strain member 110, can be easily created.

After the individual, identical housings and faceplates have been molded, as above described, they can be assembled to present the desired matrix array dimensions merely by stacking or arranging the desired number of housings and faceplate combinations. Thus, to form an array of 2 X 20, two housings and two faceplatescan be attached together in a manner similar to the construction of the assembly of FIG. 3. Likewise, if more rows are needed, the appropriate number of additional faceplate and housing combinations can be added by just placing them upon the screws as shown.

Furthermore, if, after considerable use, one or more of the faceplate portions of connector assembly be-.

comes worn, for example, through frequent contact with sharp pins of the pin matrix, the worn faceplates can be easily replaced simply by removing the two screws at the top of the connector assembly, such as the screws 91 and 101 of the assembly 35 in FIG. 3, removing and replacing the worn faceplate members, and reinserting the constraining screws.

Although the invention has been described and illustrated with a certain degree of particularity, it is understood that the present disclosure has been made only by way of example and that numerous changes in the details of construction and the combination and arrangement of parts may be resorted to without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as hereinafter claimed.

1 claim:

1. A connector assembly comprising:

a plurality of s'ide-by-side housings each having a plurality of contact receiving holes therein;

' a plurality of faceplates each overlying and engaging a corresponding one of said housings and having contact access holes therethrough;

means engaging said housings and faceplates for coupling each of said faceplates and its said corresponding housing and securing said housings in side-by-side positions; and

strain relief means attached to at least two of said housings moveable to a position adjacent each other to retain therebetween conductors running to said contacts.

2. A connector assembly for carrying a matrix array of electrically conducting female contactscomprising:

a plurality of side-by-side housings, carrying said contacts in said matrix array; and

a plurality of individually removeable faceplates,

each fastenable to a respective one of said housings and having holes therethrough located to align with said contacts carried by its said respective one of I rial and of identical configuration; and each of said housings further comprising a strain relief member integrally and removeably attached to a portion of said housing away from said faceplate.

3. A connector comprisingi at least two molded rectangular blocks of electrically thereof, each having a screw receiving hole i therethrough, and a strain relief member adapted to be selectively separated from said block, whereby when the strain relief members of said blocks intermediate the ends of the stacks are separated from their respective blocks, the strain relief members upon the blocks at the ends of the stack are positionable to engage a wire bundle located therebetween,

at'least two molded top members each locatable upon a respective one of said at least two blocks, each of said at least two top members comprising: a planar member extending over the block and hav-.-

ing a plurality of holes therethrough aligned with the contact receiving holes in said block, a plurality of shoulders each adjacent a respective one of said holes in said planar member to extend partially into the aligned hole in said block to a position adjacent and inserted contact to maintain its axial position,

two pairs of fin engaging members, each locateda an end of said planar member separated from each other to receive therebetween a fin of said block upon which said planar members located,

and having a recess to align with the screw receiving hole in said fin, whereby a screw can be inserted into said hole in said fin and said recess in said engaging members to hold said planar member in position and to maintain the blocks in I their stacked relationship.

4. The method of fabricating a connector assembly comprising: 7

providing a plurality of housings each having a plurality of contact receiving holes therein and a strain relief member integrally and removably attachedt a side of each housing; removing from each of a given group of one or more housings the strain relief member of each of said given group; locating the housings of said group of housings side-by-side; locating on each end of said side-by-side groupof housings one of said housings having a strain relief member attached thereon; locating a plurality of faceplate members having contact access holes therein upon said side-.by-side housings; and securing said housings and said faceplate members in said located positions.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4099821 *Feb 24, 1977Jul 11, 1978Cgee Alsthom S.A.Electric connection block with multiple circuits
US4468082 *Jul 15, 1982Aug 28, 1984Mitsubishi Denki Kabushiki KaishaTerminal assembly for circuit interrupter
US4592610 *May 4, 1984Jun 3, 1986General Electric CompanyPrinted circuit card frame assembly
US4735583 *Apr 24, 1987Apr 5, 1988Amp IncorporatedSpring latch for latching together electrical connectors and improved latching system
US5222168 *Dec 6, 1991Jun 22, 1993The Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd.Method for stacking ferrules of a stacked-type optical connector and a stacked-type optical connector
US5251103 *Jul 13, 1992Oct 5, 1993Mercedes-Benz A.G.Vehicle component holding case
EP0285860A2 *Mar 14, 1988Oct 12, 1988Burndy CorporationElectrical connectors and clip and methods of use
EP0285860A3 *Mar 14, 1988Sep 5, 1990Burndy CorporationElectrical connectors and clip and methods of use
EP0360625A2 *Apr 11, 1989Mar 28, 1990Augat Inc.Modular electrical connector
EP0360625A3 *Apr 11, 1989Aug 28, 1991Augat Inc.Modular electrical connector
EP0490698A1 *Dec 13, 1991Jun 17, 1992The Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd.Method of stacking ferrules of a stacked-type optical connector and a stacked-type optical connector
EP1221630A2 *Dec 17, 2001Jul 10, 2002Molex IncorporatedConnector assembly floating mount
EP1221630A3 *Dec 17, 2001Jul 21, 2004Molex IncorporatedConnector assembly floating mount
Classifications
U.S. Classification439/460
International ClassificationH01R13/428, H01R13/432, H01R13/514, H01R13/58, H01R13/595
Cooperative ClassificationH01R13/595, H01R13/514, H01R13/432
European ClassificationH01R13/514