(19)
(11)EP 3 667 828 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
17.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/25

(21)Application number: 19216012.5

(22)Date of filing:  13.12.2019
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
H01R 9/05(2006.01)
H01R 13/434(2006.01)
H01R 24/40(2011.01)
H01R 13/11(2006.01)
H01R 4/18(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 13.12.2018 US 201862779030 P

(71)Applicant: Amphenol Corporation
Wallingford, CT 06492 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • Hoyack, Michael A.
    Sandy Hook, CT 06482 (US)
  • Barthelmes, Owen Robert
    Putnam Valley, NY 10579 (US)
  • Capozzi, Kenneth
    Naugatuck, CT 06770 (US)

(74)Representative: Staeger & Sperling Partnerschaftsgesellschaft mbB 
Sonnenstraße 19
80331 München
80331 München (DE)

  


(54)CONTACT MEMBER FOR ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR


(57) Contact members and electrical connectors incorporating the contact members. The contact members have an outer conductor, an inner conductor, and a protective insulator that extends outside of the front end of the outer conductor for closed entry mating.


Description

RELATED APPLICATION



[0001] The present application claims priority to U.S. provisional application no. 62/779,030, entitled Contact Member for Electrical Connector, filed on December 13, 2018, the subject matter of which is herein incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE



[0002] The present disclosure relates to a contact member for an electrical connector, the contact member being configured for both high density and high frequency capabilities for the connector.

BACKGROUND



[0003] Next generation RF interconnect systems require increased channels and higher data bandwidth, which in turn require smaller, higher density and higher frequency RF connectors. Automobiles, for example, have an increasing need for RF interconnect to support new technologies, such as autonomous driving, 5G wireless networks, and V2X communications. The current automobile industry interface standard "FAKRA" is limiting based on size and frequency range. Also, this standard does not include a multi-channel version for higher density packaging.

SUMMARY



[0004] Accordingly, the present disclosure may provide a contact member for an electrical connector that comprises an outer conductor that has a mating interface section including a front end of the outer conductor, a termination section including a rear end of the outer conductor, and a middle section therebetween joining the mating interface and termination sections. An inner conductor is received in the mating interface section. A protective insulator may be provided that comprises a main portion received in the mating interface section supporting the inner conductor and an end portion configured for closed entry mating. The end portion may have an end face that extends outside of the front end of the outer conductor.

[0005] In certain embodiments, the front end of the outer conductor may include a plurality of spring fingers that extend over at least part of the end portion of the protective insulator; the end portion of the protective insulator may include longitudinal spokes each extending between the spring fingers; the end face of the end portion of the protective insulator may be an outer ring from which the spokes extend; distal ends of the spring fingers may rest behind a rear wall of the outer ring for the closed entry mating; and/or one or more openings may be provided behind the rear wall of the outer ring allowing for free movement of the distal ends of the spring fingers; the outer conductor may be formed as one-piece.

[0006] In some embodiments, a sleeve is disposed around the middle section of the outer conductor; the middle section includes at least one window that is covered by the sleeve; the sleeve has a least one inwardly extending tab that is configured to fit in a slot in the middle section of the outer conductor; and/or the main portion of the protective insulator has at least one outer notch or annular groove configured to receive the at least one inwardly extending tab.

[0007] In another embodiment, the termination end is deformable and/or the termination end includes one or more extensions shaped to fit together when the termination end is deformed.

[0008] The present disclosure may also provide an electrical connector that comprises one or more contact members. Each contact member may comprise an outer conductor that comprises a mating interface section including a front end of the outer conductor, a termination section including a rear end of the outer conductor, and a middle section therebetween joining the mating interface and termination sections. An inner conductor is received in the mating interface section. A protective insulator that comprises a main portion received in the mating interface section and supports the inner conductor and an end portion configured for closed entry mating. The end portion may have an end face that extends outside of the front end of the outer conductor.

[0009] In certain embodiments of the electrical connector, the front end of the outer conductor includes a plurality of spring fingers extending over at least part of the end portion of the protective insulator; the end portion of the protective insulator includes longitudinal spokes each extending between the spring fingers; the end face of the end portion of the protective insulator is an outer ring; one or more openings are provided behind a rear wall of the outer ring allowing for free movement of distal ends of the spring fingers; and/or the outer conductor is formed as one-piece.

[0010] In another embodiment of the electrical connector, a sleeve is disposed around the middle section of the outer conductor and the middle section has a smaller outer diameter than that of the termination section; and/or the middle section includes at least one window that is covered by the sleeve.

[0011] The present disclosure may yet further provide an electrical connector that comprises one or more contact members. Each contact member may comprise an outer conductor that may have a mating interface section that includes a front end of the outer conductor, a termination section that includes a rear end of the outer conductor, and a middle section therebetween joining the mating interface and termination sections. The middle section may have at least one slot. Each contact member may also comprise an inner conductor received in the mating interface section, a protective insulator that has a main portion received in the mating interface section and supports the inner conductor and an end portion configured for closed entry mating wherein the main portion has at least one outer notch or annular groove. A sleeve may be disposed around the middle section of the outer conductor of each contact member. The sleeve may have at least one inwardly extending tab received in the at least one slot of the middle section of the outer conductor and the at least outer notch or annular groove of the protective insulator.

[0012] In some embodiments of the electrical connector, the sleeve has an end shoulder configured to abut an inner portion of a housing of the electrical connector, thereby retaining the respective contact member in the housing; the end shoulder abuts a captivation ring extending around the contact members; and/or the middle section of the outer conductor has an outer diameter that is less than an outer diameter of the termination section and the sleeve is disposed around the outer diameter of the middle section.

[0013] In another embodiment of the electrical connector, the end portion of the protective insulator has an end face that extends outside of the front end of the outer conductor; and/or the front end of the outer conductor includes a plurality of spring fingers that extend over at least part of the end portion of the protective insulator and between spokes of the end portion.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0014] A more complete appreciation of the disclosure and many of the attendant advantages thereof will be readily obtained as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1A is a perspective view of a contact member according to an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 1B is an exploded perspective view of the contact member illustrated in FIG. 1A;

FIG. 1C is an exploded cross-sectional view of the contact member illustrated in FIG. IB;

FIG. ID is a perspective view of the contact member illustrated in FIG. 1A, showing a cable terminated to the contact member;

FIG. IE is a cross-sectional view of the contact member illustrated in FIG. ID;

FIG. 2A is an enlarged partial end perspective view of the contact member illustrated in FIG. 1A;

FIG. 2B is an enlarged perspective view of a protective insulator of the contact member illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 2A;

FIG. 2C is an enlarged partial perspective end view of an inner conductor of the contact member illustrated in FIG. 1A;

FIG. 3A is a partial cross-sectional perspective view of the contact member illustrated in FIG. 1A;

FIG. 3B is a partial cross-sectional elevational view of the contact member illustrated in FIG. 3A;

FIG. 4A is another partial cross-sectional perspective view of the contact member illustrated in FIG. 1A;

FIG. 4B is a partial cross-sectional elevational view of the contact member illustrated in FIG. 4A;

FIGS. 5A-5C are various perspective views of RF connectors components and the assembly of the same according to an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 6A is a side elevational cross-sectional view of the assembly illustrated in FIG. 5C, showing a right hand configuration;

FIG. 6B is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view of the assembly illustrated in FIG. 6A;

FIG. 7A is a side elevational cross-sectional view of the assembly similar to FIG. 6A, showing a straight configuration; and

FIG. 7B is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view of the assembly illustrated in FIG. 7A.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION



[0015] Referring to the figures, the present disclosure provides a contact member 100 that may be used in electrical connectors, such as RF connectors, that may be used in automobiles, for example. The design of contact member 100 is compact for a higher density connector 200 and also provides electrical loss and mechanical protection to the conductors/contacts of the connector 200, thereby providing the connector 200 with improved performance and higher frequency capability. Contact member 100 incorporates a robust closed entry mating; a low mating force contact configuration for improved ergonomics; and/or a geometry configuration that provides good impedance matching for high frequency operation with the standard mating interface.

[0016] Contact member 100 generally includes an outer conductor 102, an inner conductor 104 received in outer conductor 102, and a protective insulator 106 that is at least partially received in outer conductor 102 and supports the inner conductor 104, as seen in FIGS. 1A-1E. A sleeve 103 may also be provided that wraps around the outer conductor 102. The sleeve 103 may be formed of a conductive material.

[0017] Outer conductor 102 may include a front end 108 for engaging a mating connector 300 (FIG. 5A) and a rear end 110 for electrically connecting to cable 10 (FIGS. ID and IE), wires, and the like. Outer conductor 102 may comprise a mating interface section 112 that includes the front end 108 of the outer conductor 102, a termination section 114 that includes the rear end 110 of the outer conductor 102, and a middle section 116 therebetween joining the mating interface and termination sections 112 and 114, as seen in FIG. 1. The mating interface section 112 is designed to mate with a corresponding interface of a contact 302 of the mating connector 300 and the termination section 114 is designed to terminate and fasten to a prepared end of the cable 10, such as by crimping. The sleeve 103 may be disposed on the middle section 116. In an embodiment, the outer conductor 102 is formed as one-piece.

[0018] At the front end 108 of outer conductor 102 there may be one or more grounding spring fingers or tines 118 that define slots 120 therebetween. The distal end 122 of each spring finger 118 can be designed for electrical contact and connection with the mating connector 300. Each distal end 122 of the spring fingers 118 may have a generally convex shape that projects outwardly, as best seen in FIGS. 2A and 3B, to facilitate the electrical contact with the mating connector 300.

[0019] Protective insulator 106 may comprise a main portion 130 and an end portion 132, as seen in FIGS. 1B and 1C. Main portion 130 is configured to support the inner conductor 104 and may be elongated, as seen in FIGS. 3A and 4A. End portion 132 is configured for closed entry mating to protect both the mating end 105 (FG. 2C) of the inner contact 104, which may be a socket, for example, and the spring fingers 118 of the outer conductor 102, when mating contact member 100 with corresponding contact member 302 of the mating connector 300. Main portion 130 has an inner bore 134 sized and shaped to accommodate inner conductor 104 and to fit within the body of the outer conductor 102.

[0020] End portion 132 of insulator 106 may have an end face 136 that extends outside of the front end 108 of the outer conductor 102 past the spring fingers 118, as seen in FIG. 2A. In an embodiment, the end face 136 forms a protective outer ring, as seen in FIG. 2B. A rear wall 138 of the end face 136 provides a barrier for the distal ends 122 of springs fingers 118, as best seen in FIG. 3B, thereby protecting the distal ends 122 from being damaged, stubbed or bent during mating of the connectors 200 and 300. End portion 132 may include one or more openings 140 behind the rear wall 138. Openings 140 may be located and configured to give the distal ends 122 of the spring fingers 118 free movement without interference from the insulator's end portion 132, as best seen in FIGS. 2B and 3B. Openings 140 can be arranged on end portion 132 to correspond to the location of the distal ends 122 of the fingers 118.

[0021] Longitudinal spokes 142 may also be provided on the end portion 132 of insulator 106 which extend back from the end face's rear wall 138. Spokes 142 are designed to provide structural support to strengthen the outer ring 136 and further protect fingers 118. In an embodiment, each spoke 142 may be received in one of the slots 120 between spring fingers 118, as seen in FIG. 2A. Spokes 142 may be positioned around the end portion 132 such that the spaces 144 between spokes 142 are sized to receive one of the fingers 118, as seen in FIGS. 2A and 2B. In an embodiment, the spokes 142 are uniformly spaced on end portion 132.

[0022] The termination section 114 of outer conductor 102 may be deformable for terminating to cable 10, wire, or the like. In an embodiment, termination section 114 may be crimped to the cable 10, wire, or the like. Rear end 110 of outer conductor 102 is initially open for receiving the cable 10 such that one more extensions 150a and 150b of termination section 114 extend outwardly, as best seen in FIG. 1A. Extensions 150a and 150b are located opposite one another on section 114 and are configured to fit together when termination section 114 is deformed, such as by crimping. For example, one extension 150a may have a tail 152 that fits into a corresponding cut-out 154 of another extension 150b. As such, when termination section 114 is crimped, the extensions 150a and 150b fit together to close or nearly close the rear end 110.

[0023] Sleeve 103 may comprise a generally cylindrical shaped body 160, as seen in FIG. 1B, that fits over the middle section 116 of outer conductor 102, to provide added strength to contact member 100 and improved mechanical performance. The sleeve's body 160 may have one or more end shoulders 162 configured to assist with retaining contact member 100 within the housing of connector 200. Sleeve 103 may have one or more engagement features, such as tabs 164 and 166, for engaging outer conductor 102 and insulator 106. As seen in FIGS. 1C and IE, the tabs 164 and 166 may extend inwardly from the sleeve's body 160. The tabs 164 and 166 can be positioned and spaced on the sleeve's body 160 to engage corresponding engagement features disposed in the middle section 116 of outer conductor 102 and in the main portion 130 of insulator 106. For example, the engagement features of the outer conductor's middle section 116 may be one or more slots 168 (FIG. IB) and the engagement features of the insulator's main portion 130 may be one or more outer notches or annular grooves 170 and 172 (FIG. IE). When contact member 100 is assembled, as seen in FIG. ID, tabs 164 and 166 extend through slots 168 of the middle section 116 of outer conductor 120 and into outer notches or annular grooves 170 and 172, respectively, of the main portion of insulator 106, as seen in FIG. IE. Other known engagement features may also to be used to engage the sleeve 103 with the middle section 116 of the outer conductor 102 and the main portion 130 of the insulator 106.

[0024] In an embodiment, the middle section 116 of outer conductor 102 has an outer diameter that is smaller than the outer diameter of the termination section 114, thereby making contact member 100 more compact in size. Sleeve 103 may be disposed around the smaller outer diameter of the middle section 116. One or more windows 176 may be provided in the middle section 116 of outer conductor 102, as seen in FIGS. 1B and 1C. Windows 176 are positioned and configured to improve electrical performance by adding air inside outer conductor 102 and around insulator 106 and inner conductor 104 for impedance matching, as seen in FIG. IE. Sleeve 103 can be positioned to cover the windows 176 to prevent signal leakage therethrough.

[0025] FIGS. 5A-5C illustrate an exemplary connector 200 having one or more of the contact members 100 of the present disclosure, an exemplary mating connector 300, and the assembly 400 of the connectors 200 and 300. Connector 200 may be, for example, a four (4) position cable plug and mating connector 300 may be, for example, a four (4) line PCB jack.

[0026] FIG. 6A shows a cross-section of the assembly 400 of connectors 200 and 300 and FIG. 6B shows an enlarged view of the mating interface between connectors 200 and 300. In the assembly, each contact member 100 may be mated with a corresponding contact member 302 of the mating connector 300 by inserting the front end 108 of each contact member 100 into an interface end 306 of each mating contact member 302. The inner conductor 104 (e.g. socket) of each contact member 100 engages (electrically and mechanically) a corresponding inner conductor 304 (e.g. pin) of mating connector 300 at one end and engages (electrically and mechanically) with cable 10, wires or the like at its other end. The end shoulder 162 of sleeve 103 of each contact member 100 may abut with the inside of the housing of connector 200 and/or with a captivation ring 180 disposed around the contact members 100. The captivation ring 180 may alternatively be disposed around the housing of connector 200, as seen in FIG. 7A. A tail end 308 of each mating contact member 302 may have a right hand configuration, as seen in FIG. 6A or a straight configuration, as seen in FIG. 7A. The inner conductors 304 may have tail ends 310 corresponding to the tail ends 308 of the contact members 302 that are configured to engage (electrically and mechanically) a printed circuit board 12.

[0027] As best seen in FIGS. 6B and 7B, when mated, end portion 132 of protective insulator 106 provides a closed entry and barrier to protect the front end 108 of outer conductor 102 and particularly its fingers 118. The mating end 105 of inner conductor 104 (e.g. socket) may be set-back from the front end 108 for closed entry mating with the corresponding inner conductor 304 (e.g. pin) of mating connector 300. And the end face 136 of protective insulator 106 can be configured to prevent the contact member 302 of mating connector 300, and particularly its inner pin 304, from being inserted too far into the mating end 105 of socket 104 of connector 200.

[0028] While particular embodiments have been chosen to illustrate the disclosure, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the scope of the disclosure as defined in the appended claims or e.g. such as the contact member comprising an outer conductor including a mating interface section including a front end of the outer conductor, a termination section including a rear end of the outer conductor, and a middle section therebetween joining the mating interface and termination sections, an inner conductor received in the mating interface section and a protective insulator including a main portion received in the mating interface section of the outer conductor and supporting the inner conductor and including an end portion configured for closed entry mating, the end portion having an end face extending outside of the front end of the outer conductor, wherein the termination end is deformable. Additionally the termination end may include one or more extensions shaped to fit together when the termination end is deformed.

[0029] A further embodiment is configured as an electrical connector, comprising one or more contact members, each contact member including, an outer conductor including a mating interface section including a front end of the outer conductor, a termination section including a rear end of the outer conductor, and a middle section therebetween joining the mating interface and termination sections, an inner conductor received in the mating interface section and a protective insulator including a main portion received in the mating interface section and supporting the inner conductor and an end portion configured for closed entry mating, the end portion having an end face extending outside of the front end of the outer conductor.

[0030] Additionally to the aforesaid features the electrical connector may be configured in such that the front end of the outer conductor includes a plurality of spring fingers extending over at least part of the end portion of the protective insulator.

[0031] Additionally to the aforesaid features the electrical connector may be configured in such that the end portion of the protective insulator includes longitudinal spokes each extending between the spring fingers.

[0032] Additionally to the aforesaid features the electrical connector may be configured in such that the end face of the end portion of the protective insulator is an outer ring.

[0033] Additionally to the aforesaid features the electrical connector may be configured in such that one or more openings are provided behind a rear wall of the outer ring allowing for free movement of distal ends of the spring fingers.

[0034] Additionally to the aforesaid features the electrical connector may be configured in such that the outer conductor is formed as one-piece.

[0035] Additionally to the aforesaid features the electrical connector may be configured in such that a sleeve is disposed around the middle section of the outer conductor and the middle section has an outer diameter that is smaller than an outer diameter of the termination section.

[0036] Additionally to the aforesaid features the electrical connector may be configured in such that the middle section includes at least one window that is covered by the sleeve.

[0037] A further embodiment is an electrical connector comprising one or more contact members as described before, wherein each contact member including, an outer conductor including a mating interface section including a front end of the outer conductor, a termination section including a rear end of the outer conductor, and a middle section therebetween joining the mating interface and termination sections, the middle section having at least one slot, an inner conductor received in the mating interface section, a protective insulator including a main portion received in the mating interface section and supporting the inner conductor and an end portion configured for closed entry mating, the main portion having at least one outer notch or annular groove and a sleeve disposed around the middle section of the outer conductor, the sleeve having at least one inwardly extending tab received in the at least one slot of the middle section of the outer conductor and the at least outer notch or annular groove of the protective insulator, wherein the middle section has an outer diameter that is less than an outer diameter of the termination section and the sleeve is disposed around the outer diameter of the middle section.

[0038] Additionally to the aforesaid features the electrical connector may be configured in such that the front end of the outer conductor includes a plurality of spring fingers extending over at least part of the end portion of the protective insulator and between spokes of the end portion or wherein the outer conductor is formed as one-piece.


Claims

1. A contact member for an electrical connector, comprising:

an outer conductor including a mating interface section including a front end of the outer conductor, a termination section including a rear end of the outer conductor, and a middle section therebetween joining the mating interface and termination sections;

an inner conductor received in the mating interface section; and

a protective insulator including a main portion received in the mating interface section of the outer conductor and supporting the inner conductor and including an end portion configured for closed entry mating, the end portion having an end face extending outside of the front end of the outer conductor.


 
2. The contact member of claim 1, wherein the front end of the outer conductor includes a plurality of spring fingers extending over at least part of the end portion of the protective insulator.
 
3. The contact member of claim 2, wherein the end portion of the protective insulator includes longitudinal spokes each extending between the spring fingers.
 
4. The contact member of claim 3, wherein the end face of the end portion of the protective insulator is an outer ring from which the spokes extend.
 
5. The contact member of claim 4, wherein distal ends of the spring fingers rest behind a rear wall of the outer ring for the closed entry mating.
 
6. The contact member of claim 5, wherein one or more openings are provided behind the rear wall of the outer ring allowing for free movement of the distal ends of the spring fingers.
 
7. The contact member of claim 1, wherein the outer conductor is formed as one-piece.
 
8. The contact member of claim 1, wherein a sleeve is disposed around the middle section of the outer conductor.
 
9. The contact member of claim 8, wherein the middle section includes at least one window that is covered by the sleeve.
 
10. The contact member of claim 8, wherein the sleeve has a least one inwardly extending tab that is configured to fit in a slot in the middle section of the outer conductor.
 
11. The contact member of claim 10, wherein the main portion of the protective insulator has at least one outer notch or annular groove configured to receive the at least one inwardly extending tab.
 
12. An electrical connector, comprising:
one or more contact members according to claim 1, each contact member including,

an outer conductor including a mating interface section including a front end of the outer conductor, a termination section including a rear end of the outer conductor, and a middle section therebetween joining the mating interface and termination sections, the middle section having at least one slot;

an inner conductor received in the mating interface section;

a protective insulator including a main portion received in the mating interface section and supporting the inner conductor and an end portion configured for closed entry mating, the main portion having at least one outer notch or annular groove; and

a sleeve disposed around the middle section of the outer conductor, the sleeve having at least one inwardly extending tab received in the at least one slot of the middle section of the outer conductor and the at least outer notch or annular groove of the protective insulator.


 
13. The electrical connector of claim 12, wherein the sleeve has an end shoulder configured to abut an inner portion of a housing of the electrical connector, thereby retaining the respective contact member in the housing.
 
14. The electrical connector of claim 13, wherein the end shoulder abuts a captivation ring extending around the contact members.
 
15. The electrical connector of claim 12, wherein the end portion of the protective insulator has an end face extending outside of the front end of the outer conductor.
 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description