Omnetics Spring 2018 Newsletter
In this Issue:
- Low Profile Micro-D Connectors
- Life in the Lab
- From the Engineer's Desk
- Did you know?
- On the Road With Omnetics
Low Profile Micro-D Connectors
Omnetics Low Profile Micro-D Connectors fit well with New Compact and Portable Electronic Modules
As circuit modules continue to evolve into more and more portable electronic systems, the “Total Circuit” itself must become smaller, lighter and lower profile without losing its overall rugged characteristics. These systems include portable Ethernet controllers, tri-mode seeker-heads, surveillance modules, downhole monitoring electronics, and many others all searching for size reduction.
Markets all across the globe are focused on SWaP (size, weight, and power). In the defense world, designers are searching for newer componentry to usher in newer compact, smarter missile designs capable of protecting today’s modern warfighters. In the space world, the goal is similar: mass reduction. Companies such as NASA continue to focus on this requirement. Today, it is estimated to cost $10,000 to put a single pound of payload in Earth’s orbit. NASA's goal is to reduce the cost of getting to space to hundreds of dollars per pound within 25 years, and tens of dollars per pound within 40 years. With this goal in mind, these newer SWaP options must not only be smaller than their incumbent, they must also survive and thrive in some of the harshest environments.
Omnetics Connector Corporation offers their Low Profile ¬Micro-D series for this market. This new connector type offers designers a savings of roughly 30% in height, while assuring users the same performance and reliability expected from previous MIL-DTL-83513 iterations. Omnetics’ Low Profile Micro-D Connectors are ideal for critical, high-reliability industries, including aerospace, military, petroleum, and medical applications. These Low-Profile Micro-D connectors are built to exceed the specifications of MIL-DTL-83513, while allowing designers the ability to squeeze more and more into less and less.
Low-profile connector types enable designers the ability to utilize board-stacking efforts. This allows for a fast design of each individual section of the instrumentation allowing for more components in a smaller form factor. Applications include hand-launched drones, portable robotic surveillance systems and cube satellites (image of a NASA weather satellite processor board to the right).
Omnetics’ Low Profile Micro-D connectors offer the performance and reliability demanded by this industry niche and beyond. They are designed and manufactured using the identical pin to socket system, shell and insulator materials that pass MIL-DTL-83513. Pins are made of ruggedized BeCu copper alloy that ensure continuous signal performance through 50 gs of shock and 20 gs of vibration. Their performance has been tested and certified from -55 degrees Celsius to + 125 degrees Celsius. The low profile connector’s height is significantly reduced by 30% to less than .208 inches high with some designs. Extensive detailed specifications are available.
Life in the Lab
The Special Projects Laboratory was established at Omnetics last year to assist the engineering team with product design, testing, and research. Below we interview Travis Neumann, the Special Projects Manager, about what he has accomplished and how the Lab helps Omnetics’ customers with their connector design challenges.
What is the purpose of the Special Projects Lab?
Special projects was established to help Omnetics get parts into customers’ hands faster. Our customers are currently the Sales, Engineering and Manufacturing departments at Omnetics. We do this by researching and testing new processes and products, building samples, and responding to trends in the industry.
How does the Special Projects Lab help Omnetics’ business?
A lot of time, being the first one to the table with a design and a sample can help us win new business. There have been a number of our sales reps that have touted Omnetics’ ability to quickly provide the customer with an engineering drawing and following that up with a sample. That responsiveness indicates to the customer that we’re serious about helping them solve a problem, and that Omnetics is the right team to make it happen.
In addition, the Special Projects Lab does a lot of research and testing to help Omnetics’ manufacturing department become more efficient and cost effective. We are constantly trying new things and establishing new processes that ensure Omnetics’ connectors are up to speed on the latest trends and exceed expectations for the customer.
How does the Special Projects Lab help Omnetics’ customers?
In some instances we may be trying to find a new method to manufacture an existing part to make it easier to load. For example, we have some parts in the lab for a customer that need to be more flexible. We’re testing out the idea of putting on less shrink tube and leaving a short wire gap at the back of the connector rather than potting it all together. That gap will allow them to test their assembly where the latching connector needs to fit through a hole and quickly make a turn. It’s all about testing and trying new things that will ultimately help solve the customer’s unique connector problems.
What are some projects you’ve worked on for Omnetics?
We have quite a number of projects going on in the lab at any given time. There are different materials that we’ve been looking into, such as UV epoxy and different overmold or premolds. We’ve also done some testing on different metals for connector housings as well as looking into some new plating offerings for upcoming connectors. The Special Projects Lab is also heavily involved in designing and testing new connector offerings for Omnetics.
What are some innovations you’ve accomplished for Omnetics?
One of the Aha moments in the lab is when Grant and I spent some time working on coax samples. We would strip the jacket, trim the braid, strip the insulator and then struggle to load the coax into the connectors as the braid would fray. Once we tried tinning the braid and then prepping the rest of the coax assembly, getting it loaded into the connector was a piece of cake as the braid was contained. It all seems so simple now even though it took us two days of struggling to figure that out.
Small victories are happening every day in the Special Projects Lab. Our continuous ideation, testing, and reporting have allowed us to solve problems for Omnetics’ customers time and time again, all while responding quickly and improving efficiency.
From the Engineer's Desk: High Speed Connector Design
Selecting the Right Jacket for Your Application
This is the fourth installment in our series on Cable Design. The previous installments focused on conductor, insulator, and shielding materials. This installment will focus on selecting the right cable jacket.
The cable jacket is a non-conductive material that surrounds the entire wire bundle. The purpose of a jacket is to protect the internal components of the cable from the outside environment – chemicals, flames, moisture, etc. – and to improve the organization and appearance of the wire harness.
Figure 1: Characteristics of the four primary cable jacket materials used in Omnetics cable assemblies.
There are several parameters that should be considered when selecting a cable jacket:
- Flame Retardancy: Measures the ability of a material to resist catching fire.
- Low-Smoke-Zero-Halogen (LSZH): Halogens emit toxic fumes into the air when burned. LSZH jackets ensure that no toxins are emitted if the jacket were to catch fire.
- Ruggedness: Defines the ability of the cable to withstand rugged environments. Key factors in ruggedness are abrasion resistance, which is the ability to resist surface wear, and flexibility.
- Outgassing: The unwanted release of a gas from within the jacket material. Minimizing outgassing in components is critical in aerospace applications where outgassed substances condense onto nearby electronics and optics, impacting their functionality.
- Maximum Temperature: The maximum temperature that a jacket can operate without noticeably impacting any of its critical properties.
- IP67/IP68: IP67 and IP68 ratings describe the ability of a component to remain dustproof and waterproof. In order for a cable assembly to achieve these ratings, the overmold must maintain a leakproof bond to the cable jacket.
Jacket Material Options
The four cable jacket materials listed below make up the jackets in about 90% of the cables used in Omnetics cable assemblies:
- Polyurethane is an excellent cable jacket material. Its combination of excellent ruggedness, ability to meet IP67/IP68 requirements, and availability in LSZH make it a highly desirable option for a significant number of cable applications.
- PVC is a low-cost option that works great for applications that do not have stringent ruggedness or IP67/IP68 requirements. PVC is used in nearly all commercial cables.
- Silicone is smooth, soft, and flexible, and is a leading jacket material in medical applications. Silicone is desirable in applications where the look and feel of the cable are important, but there are no stringent environmental requirements.
- Teflon has an excellent temperature range and very low outgassing specifications. These characteristics make it the ideal solution for aerospace applications (low outgas) and down-hole applications (high temperature).
The jacket is an important part of the cable that must be chosen carefully in order to properly protect the internal components of the cable. Understanding how common jacket materials compare in various categories should help ensure that the correct material is used for each application.
Did you know?
The Mars Rover Curiosity is 9 feet (2.7 m) long and weighs 1,984 pounds (900 kg), and will carry a payload of scientific experiments more than ten times as massive as earlier Mars rovers. (www.space.com)
See Omnetics' products optimized for space here.
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