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The Must-Know PCB Connectors as an Enthusiast

Do you like designing printed circuit boards but have no idea about PCB connectors? Take it easy, as you might not be alone in this wilderness. Most PCB enthusiasts and designers understand the importance of PCB to electronics and procure the best products and services from the best PCB manufacturing companies. However, only a small proportion often gets into understanding the diverse types of PCB connectors. This article will delve into this crucial aspect of printed circuit boards and ensure you get well-acquainted by the time you finish reading. So what are PCB connectors?

PCB Connectors

PCB connectors are essential components mounted on a printed circuit board and play an instrumental role in transferring power or signals from one printed circuit board to the next.  It becomes crucial because most PCBs require other PCBs to function properly within an electronic device. Different connectors exist and include a PCB wire connector, flex PCB connectors, PCB board to board connectors, PCB connectors wire to board, etc. It proves probable that you might have interacted with these in your circuit board endeavors.

PCB connectors come as one of either female or male gender to accomplish the mating cycles. It implies that they can get connected or disconnected a specific number of times before breaking down. For instance, a USB connector by design can get mated in thousands of cycles or times, while for some connectors like Molex power, it can only get mated a few times before breaking down.

The female and male connectors mate through a process inferred as a contact. Every connector possesses metal segments, which press together to create a connection. Connectors have unique polarities, which imply an ability to only getting oriented towards a specific direction. It, therefore, means that PCB connectors can only make contact with specific connector kinds and not just any other connector. Connector orientation also gets inferred as connector keying, another one of their renowned names.

Additionally, PCB connectors possess strain relief, a self-protecting mechanism that helps keep the sensitive metal pieces from breaking due to mechanical vibrations and jostling by hands.

Connectors often require mounting on the printed circuit board panel, which can happen through the through-hole or surface mount method. Therefore, mounting becomes a critical activity for PCB connectors as it also determines the angling of the connector (either right-angled or straight)

Types of PCB Connectors

pcb connectors wire to board

Plenty of printed circuit board connectors exist out there, and they get used primarily to join PCB sections together or the PCB with other devices. Every connector comes with its unique attributes, including physical shapes, sizes, vibration resistance, etc. However, this transcends beyond this classification as you can also categorize them into specific families. It will help with the tracking, especially concerning your design needs.

The PCB connector families or classes include the following.

  • Terminal blocks. The connector family arose from the need by engineers to find a simpler way of connecting electrical wires without the need to connect mechanical fragments physically. Therefore, it comes as a common sighting to get terminal blocks on PCBs where a segment of it attaches to the PCB board while the other segment with wires can willfully get removed to allow for a simple swapping process.
  • Posts. The connector family proves a bit like terminal blocks, especially when it comes to the wire-attachment mechanism devoid of mechanical joining of parts. It proves common in audio devices and electronic test machines and possesses attached wires locked in place by clamps and screws attached to the post (metallic)  
  • Sockets and plugs. It proves the most popular connector family and will form the focal point for this article. The connectors come as female or male and entail multiple pin sets that can get inserted into the socket to transmit power, data, displays, etc.

Comprehension of the connector family becomes pivotal in knowing the typical features shared by connector types in that family. For instance, a USB proves a part of the socket and plugs family, complete with a female and male counterpart. While other USB connector types exist, they all share similar family attributes, even if they look somewhat different.

Suppose you want to buy a USB connector type or any other connector in this socket and plug family or any other family type. It can prove prudent to rely on our services as RayMing PCB and Assembly Company. The company is equipped with technical expertise, manufacturing, assembly, and fabrication capacity to produce printed circuit boards. What’s more, you can get quality connectors of your choice at affordable prices as well. It also has awesome customer care service and an incredible experience as a client.

Socket and Plug Connector Family

The family has various connector types that every PCB designer needs to comprehend for a better PCB design and experience. It includes the following.

  • USB connectors. It comes as a popular connector type, the USB connectors have multiple applications that include connection of keyboards and mouse to the computer, charging systems for smartphones, to display ports. Like all other connector types in this family, USB connectors have a specific polarization (excluding the mysterious and new USB-C types). It comes with not less than four contacts, with one for the ground, another for power, and the last two for transmission and reception of data. Additionally, it possesses a metal shielding that safeguards the data, especially from noisy buzzes from the surrounding electronics.  USB connector types you will likely get to encounter include USB-A, USB-B, USB-Micro, and USB-C.
  • RCA connectors. It is a connector type almost becoming non-existent as it increasingly gets phased out by the HDMI. However, the existence of RCA connectors for decades makes it a popular connector for appliances like home theater systems. It cannot seem possible to comprehend the exact period these crucial connectors will completely become non-existent. The connectors handle four types of signals: composite video, component video, S/PDIF audio, and stereo audio.
  • Audio connectors. It is a renowned connector type, especially in this age and day, uncles you only use an iPhone 7. Similar to USB connectors, the audio connectors come in varied sizes, and this determines their application. For instance, a 6.35mm gets used in the audio and music production industry, primarily in amplifiers and electric guitars. Another crucial one entails the 3.5mm that proves perfect for headphones, especially those that get plugged into MP3 players, smartphones, and laptops. The 2.5mm type gets used in microphones and headphones via one jack because of the presence of TRRS.
  • Power connectors. It proves popular and with widespread application in the sphere of electrical connectors.  The power connectors provide power to devices and include barrel connectors, IEC connectors, Molex connectors, JST connectors, Pin header connectors, etc.

Prototyping and Testing Connectors

Prototyping and testing circuits can prove an arduous task, and therefore, you will not desire to solder on these permanent connectors already talked about. In such instances, it becomes essential to prototype and test connectors as an alternative. Such an approach will allow you to alter the fly, devoid of any need for resoldering parts on the PCB.  

The connector types involved include the following.

  • Banana connectors. Connectors of these kinds get used in electronic test machines or equipment such as multimeters and entail multiple or single banana jack connectors. The male jack plugs into the female banana plug, thereby establishing a sole power connection.
  • Alligator clips. The connector type proves perfect for experimenting with diverse connections during the circuit test run. However, you cannot rely on the durability of these connectors because, by design, they should only get used temporarily. Therefore, it becomes common to find yourself potentially wrestling with its slippery grips besides generating unintended short-circuits, especially when you happen to touch the surrounding metals.  
  • IC clips. It comes as a connector loaded with finesse and one that can get used by attaching them to the IC‘s pins without the risk of touching the surrounding pins. The attribute makes it perfect for troubleshooting needs.

Plenty of connector types exist, and it becomes impossible to discuss every type in this article. You may have noticed that some connector types like the D-sub and the RJ have not been featured. D-sub connectors prove common and a classic for computers and come in diverse types based on the number of pins each contains besides the shell size holding the pins. The connectors prove crucial for providing communication and power abilities between two electronic devices.

RJ connectors, on the other hand, prove common in the telecommunication world. Originally invented and developed by the Bell System, it brings numerous conductors in a low-cost and flexible packaging that can distribute current (100-200 milliamps) and data from one electronic device t the other.  It, therefore, explains why office phone get powered over the Ethernet to receive power and data from a simple cable (Ethernet)

Conclusion

The journey concludes here, and after going through the diverse aspects of PCB connectors and the PCB connector types, we hope you now know how to go about your printed circuit board design needs, especially about PCB connectors. We have canvased the importance of PCB connectors, especially concerning the functionality of printed circuit boards with other PCBs. Further, in case you have additional inquiries, choose the better option of visiting our homepage. It contains information on how to contact us to get the advice you need regarding your connector and printed circuit board needs you might have. Good luck!