Choosing Connectors for Test and Measurement Equipment

choosing the right connectorWhen choosing connectors for test and measurement equipment, there are several criteria that must be met. Every designer must know what type of connector they need for their application. They must examine the attributes of each connector and determine the life span given the expected product use and environment where the product will be used. Here are some suggestions for choosing connectors for test and measurement.

1. Choose Connectors That Can Withstand Abuse
In general, designers need solid body combo D-Sub connectors for applications that require a lot of use. Die-cast housings are designed to withstand great pressures within the field. Engineers have over 100 connector manufacturers to select from when searching for a robust connector. The materials selected should be able to last the lifetime of the test equipment. Select the most robust material available.

2. Select a Connector for T&M Applications
It can be difficult to design a connector that works in all types of applications. Typically, the connector that will work in clean environments such as medical testing rooms and assurance product labs are not the same connectors that would be used in dirty environments such as outdoors or a factory floor. T&M environments will require connectors made of high temperature plastics or rugged contact alloys.

3. Selecting the Right Connector for Test and Measurement Equipment
The test equipment is exposed to a lot of elements. So, designers will want to select a connector that can withstand drops, spills, and submersion in fluids. This type of connector should be robust.

4. Select Glass Reinforced Resins
Select glass-reinforced resins with low flammability ratings as designed by UL standards. This type of material will endure stress cracking and degradation. Any application that will endure hard or accidental abuse will benefit from the use of glass-reinforced plastics. In most instances, these types of plastics will withstand drop shocks of 50g or more.

5. Be Aware of Stamped Versus Machined Connectors
Connectors should be able to withstand their spring characteristics to last for a long period of time even when they are exposed to higher temperatures. In most instances, designers will select tempered phosphor bronze alloys. Machined contacts are, typically, thought to be superior to stamped connectors. They have smoother finishes, and the shapes are more cylindrical. Shrouded contacts can also withstand harsh mating conditions.

6. Size and Latching
Always select the connector with the latching mechanism that works for your application. Different types of latching include bayonet coupling, threaded connections, proprietary push-pull latching, and friction-fit.

7. EMI Filtering
Keep in mind that electromagnetic interference (EMI) can corrupt measurements in many applications that require measurements. Connectors in these applications should be shielded and filtered.

8. Plating
Since most signal contacts are gold-plated, it’s important to find one that’s affordable and stable. Plated signal contacts are typically used in the T&M market. Thicker gold will exhibit less drift and have more stable contact resistance.

Review These Criteria for Selecting Connectors
In addition to meeting the above criteria for connector selection, designers should also meet mating and environmental requirements. Always be intimately familiar with your application to assure that you’ll choose the best connector for you. The process is easier if you consider all the factors.

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