Shielded micro- and nano-sized cables save space and weight in portable electronics.
By Bob Stanton, Omnetics Connector Corporation
Design teams are constantly demanding higher density connections to increase the functionality of each part of their instruments. The problem is, the amount of space available for the internal wiring systems required to route signals from one section of an instrument to another is continually getting smaller, even as it becomes more critical.
The solution? Designing a cable and connector system specifically for individual instruments helps reduce size and weight while improving circuit speed and signal routing. This strategy also helps match signal impedance to other circuits in adjoining modules.
Designers can carefully model wiring harnesses to fit exact dimensions and routes inside miniature electronic equipment. This allows for compact modules that are small, lightweight, and reliable. Micro- and nano-sized connectors with ruggedized spring pin contacts as small as 0.013” in diameter are designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions, including high vibration and physical shock. These custom-designed cabled connector systems also retain high flexibility and offer consistently reliable performance.
In custom designs like these, wire harness routing between modules is kept at the shortest possible length to improve signal quality. Shielded cable is frequently employed to prevent signals from being affected by resulting electro-motive interference, as well as to protect the system from cyber-attack, and Teflon® insulated high-strand miniature copper wiring is commonly used to ensure the flexibility, longevity, and durability needed to withstand the wide operating temperature range that ruggedized portable electronics can experience in the field.
Miniature, application-specific shielded wiring harnesses provide effective solutions for a wide range of miniature electronic equipment, but prove especially beneficial in the portable, high-performance electronics systems used in military field operations, including: sensor system detectors, processors for mine detection, portable cameras, surveillance modules, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). These systems face extreme conditions, and require miniature, minimum-weight electronics to enable easy soldier transport or achieve increased payload and flight times, even while carrying an increased burden of additional cameras, sensors, and broadcast equipment.
Other applications that benefit from custom miniature cabled connection systems range from robotics to healthcare electronics. In the medical industry, handheld surgical tools, dental camera modules, cosmetic lasers, and even spinal pain management tools use custom-designed wiring to enhance patient comfort and technical performance. Shielded connections prevent electro-magnetic interference, which can affect the functionality of major medical equipment, such as ventilators, ECG monitors, cardiac monitors, or defibrillators. These refined electronics help doctors accomplish their work with more precision and success.