Developments in the global military market in recent years have resulted in re-engineered products and all-new technologies. Here, Günter Rohr of ODU offers advice on how to specify miniature and subminiature connectors for military applications.
There have been many new market developments and changes in the military and security sectors around the world in recent years. Existing products have been re-engineered and new ones have been developed, but the requirements of the manufacturers and users have remained constant: Reduced weight, robustness, simple handling, and reliable transmission of a higher number of signals in the most compact available space. Users want technologies and equipment that are increasingly powerful but smaller, faster, and lighter, as well as reliable in extreme conditions. A number of factors must be considered when specifying connectors for military applications:
The material’s weight is the primary factor for miniature and subminiature mil/aero connectors. If the end device must be lightweight, the weight reduction starts with the connector. For example, using aluminum reduces the weight of the housing. When combined with a special, low-reflection surface, the connector is ideally suited for field use.
Field use calls for a lot of technology in a compact package, which makes it all the more important to have 360-degree EMC shielding, even for miniaturized connectors. This shielding blocks the penetration of interference (both external and among the various systems) that could impair the signal and data transmission. For example, radio and GPS equipment are often located close together, but neither system can interfere with the other. In a system solution, an especially critical factor is the flawless contacting of the cable on the housing. Here again, it is necessary to guarantee 360-degree shielding.
Connectors used in military and security systems face extreme conditions such as water, dirt, salt, temperature, and mechanical stress. No matter how small they are, all connectors must withstand these environments. Connector solutions must be tested in accordance with MIL standards and offer an IP68 rating to ensure that they are tightly sealed and resistant to salt water spray. Easy-clean versions, such as the ODU AMC connector series, offer the additional benefit of being easy to clean while in use.
Mating reliability is also a critical criterion for miniature and subminiature connectors. Mechanical and color coding guarantee reliable and simple handling, while scoop-proof design offers additional reliability during mating as the connector pin contacts are not damaged if the mating shell is incorrectly “scooped” into the shell during the mating process. Connectors that offer a break-away function also offer greater reliability and a flawless connection.
Günter Rohr is the global portfolio manager at ODU GmbH & Co. KG.